Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall Tartlets

Some might be resisting it, but fall is here - my favorite season (if you couldn't tell from the name of this blog). While pondering what to do with a lot of leftover dried figs, I came up with these autumnal tartlets, with fall fruits and a cheesecake-like topping:




I used shortbread dough for the crusts, cutting out circles and wedging them into mini muffin cups. For an extra-fall touch, I used half white sugar, half brown sugar in this variation and added about 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice to the dough.



I baked the crust-lets for about 10 minutes, let them cool, and started filling. I made half with my fig filling (see below for recipe), and then remembered I had a jar of pumpkin butter from Amish country and immediately knew I had to use that too.



After I filled all the crusts, I made a cream cheese/whipped cream topping, which I scooped into a piping bag and let chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.



Then I started piping - with a large star-shaped tip. A dollop of cheesecakey topping on each one, topped with pumpkin pie spice on the pumpkin tarts and lemon zest on the fig tarts.



Delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or anytime in between.

Pumpkin & Fig Fall Tartlets


Ingredients

Shortbread Crust (adapted from Ina Garten)

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or desired combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or clove)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

Fig Filling

1 cup dried figs
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Dash of salt

Pumpkin Filling

One jar of pumpkin butter (easy, right?)

Cheesecake-like Topping

8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 cup Cool Whip
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon zest and pumpkin pie spice (garnish)

Directions

Crust:

Preheat oven to 350. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and spices; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut with a circular cookie cutter (I used a 3" circle to fit to my mini muffin pan). Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Remove and cool completely (speed this up in the fridge or freezer).

Fig Filling:

Combine figs, water, lemon juice, and salt in a small saucepan. On medium heat, let simmer for roughly five minutes. Put mixture in food processor and blend until smooth.

Cheesecake Topping:

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip and beat until lumps are gone.

Spoon mixture into a piping bag (or large zip-loc) and place in freezer for 30 minutes so it can stiffen.

Assembly

Spoon fig mixture and pumpkin butter into cooled shortbread crusts. Pipe cream cheese mixture onto the top of each tart, and top with lemon zest and/or cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice.

Perfect in one bite!

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