Is it time for strawberry shortcake? Or strawberry pie? Or just eating strawberries fresh, one after another? Yes to all of these, but one mark of the strawberry season for me is a batch of strawberry hand tarts.
I know strawberries are available at the grocery store year round. But, in case you haven’t noticed, sometimes they taste just like that plastic container they are packed in and lack that juicy, strawberry flavor. Thankfully, for a few, brief shining weeks each spring you can get the real deal at local fields or farmers’ markets. It is that time of year here. (I met Roxanne’s family at Wohletz Farm and we had great fun picking strawberries.)
I make a batch of strawberry tarts this time of year. Funny thing about these tarts. Just like you I occasionally go to the Internet and find a recipe. I have some sites I trust and this recipe originally came from one of those great sites several years ago. It was a mess. Nothing seemed to work right, but yet, I wanted to make them. I tried again and again and now I finally have it right and I am excited to share it with you. (A note of experience—find cookbooks/websites/blogs you trust and that share tested recipes.)
Warm, out of the oven they are perfect. The rich, buttery crust with beautiful, juicy but not-to-sweet berries nestled inside is heavenly.
I love picnics and these are the perfect picnic food—handheld, sweet, but not gooey. To pack them, wrap each in a napkin or kitchen towel. Forget the plastic zip-top bag or sealable container, for if you put them in a plastic bag, the crust will not stay crisp. Make them the morning of your picnic and you will have a wonderful treat later that day. No, they don’t keep well, for they are as fleeting as the berries themselves, but I think they are worth it.
I am headed to Kansas City’s Celebration at the Station next weekend and love planning the picnic. Great friends and the Kansas City Symphony make for a perfect Memorial Day event. I think I know one thing that will be on the menu. What will you serve this weekend at your picnic?
Strawberry Hand Tarts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1-2/3 cups trimmed, quartered fresh strawberries (coarsely chopped if berries are large)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Sugar Topping and Sealing:
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
To make crust: Place flour, sugar and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Scatter butter over the flour. Pulse to cut the butter into the flour, pulsing until the mixture forms even crumbs that resemble coarse meal. Combine 1 egg and milk. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture. Process just until the crust comes together and makes a ball. Do not over process.
Gather dough and divide evenly in half. Shape each half into a rectangle with smooth sides. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the Strawberry Filling: In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, blending thoroughly. (If your berries are not sweet, add an additional 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar.) Add the strawberries and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the juices come to a boil and thicken, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350⁰F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll one piece of dough on a lightly floured until very thin, making a rectangle 10 by 13-inches. Trim the dough to a make a straight sided 9 x 12-inch rectangle. Cut the large rectangle into nine smaller 3 x 4-inch rectangles. (Use a ruler for straight sides and exact measurements.) Transfer each rectangle to the parchment lined baking sheet, placing about 1/2 to 1-inch apart.
Repeat with the second piece of dough, rolling until thin, then cutting into 9 (3 x 4-inch) rectangles.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon filling into the center of each piece of dough on the baking sheet. Do not over fill and leave a boarder about ½-inch wide on the pastry rectangle without filling. (If filling is liquid, use a slotted spoon to capture more of the fruit and less of the juice.)
Lightly beat the remaining egg. Use a pastry brush to brush the boarder of each tart lightly with egg. Place a second rectangle of dough over the tart. Use finger tips to press and seal lightly, then use the tines of a fork to crimp tightly. Use the tip of a sharp knife to cut steam vents in the top of each tart.
Sprinkle the top of each tart generously with sugar.
Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until golden and crisp. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Makes 9 tarts.
If desired, glaze the tarts. It makes them sweeter and they are pretty, but do not glaze them if you are taking them on a picnic. Allow the tarts to cool completely. Whisk together ½ cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon milk until smooth. Flavor with a few drops of vanilla and if desired, blend in an additional ¼ to ½ teaspoon milk until of spreading consistency. Spoon glaze into a zip-top plastic sandwich bag, seal bag and clip the corner off the bag. Drizzle the glaze over the tarts.