Monday, July 11, 2005

And so it begins

Tartlett dough
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Tartletts are my signature item. They are simple, easy and impressive. Flo Braker taught me how to make these years ago (not personally but through her great cookbook) and I have been making them ever since.

It always amazes me to see how simple ingredients can be brought together in different ways to produce different results. Flour, sugar, a pinch of salt, vanilla, UNsalted butter and an egg. In this edition the egg, and butter must be kept COLD. It doesn't hurt to chill the vanilla with the egg.

Mixing the dry stuff
Many people will tell you to mix your ingredients by hand. You can do it this way, but it sure is a lot easier when you let a food processor do the hard work. Toss your dry ingredients in the food processor. Pulse it a couple of times to combine the ingredients. It is just as if you hand sifted them together, a very important part of the tartlett process. Once this is done, place your chilled cubed butter in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Like this:
Now add the butter
A flaky crust is the essence of pies, tarts and tartletts. I'm sure you've all eaten what was deemed to be a pie crust but upon careful inspection and mouthfeel it turned out to be cardboard! That's because the butter was not combined quickly and thoroughly and the dough was over worked. By using a food processor for this stage of the dough you can easily combine the fats with the proteins and it becomes the perfect flaky crust you desire. Pulse the processor until your dough resembles bread crumbs.
Does this look right
Once you have reached the "breadcrumb" look you can begin adding your liquids. As you can see in the photo above I have poured the vanilla into the egg bowl. I quickly beat the egg and vanilla prior to turning on the processor. Once this is done, turn on the food processor and pour the egg mixture through the feed tube into the combined dough. This is the part I love; it will quickly become a wonderfully combined dough. A perfect lightly colored non sticky ready to chill dough. Keep the processor on until the dough mixes and forms a ball. Don't turn it off until it does. With practice, you should be able to accomplish this in about a minute's time. Note: In newer model Cuisinarts I have found I sometimes have to turn off the processor and move the dough a bit to get it to combine. I think it has something to do with the "built in obsolesence" in newer model machines. They just don't have the powerful motors as the older models. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it in a ziploc bag or wrap it tightly in saran wrap or foil. Chill it for at least an hour. I usually let it chill overnight.
Ready to chill

Tomorrow, I'll show you what I do with this dough. :-)