I like the word pielet. You know, like a tartlet, but a pie? Pielet. Aw.
This post consolidates three sweet tarts (or pielets) that I’ve made in the last few months. They all use the same pate sucree recipe, which I used with great success to make jam tarts for Mothers Day High Tea last year. I’ve never bothered to look for another sweet pastry recipe, this one is so easy to make and so reliable – it’s had so many comments from people on the great flavour and texture.
The first pielets are more jam tarts, using the pear, basil and ginger jam that I made a few months ago. I made them just as I did the Mothers Day ones, with tiny pastry stars on top. They are so adorable, I love those little cutter tools. Very suitable for decorating pielets.
They are a little bit rustic round the edges, but I choose to believe that only lends them more charm.
The next pielets were little pecan pies, which I made for Thanksgiving. I’d never made or even tried a pecan pie before, so I wasn’t sure how they were meant to taste, but I can tell you that they seemed to turn out perfectly and were certainly very well received, especially hot from the oven with vanilla ice cream. Yum. I slightly adjusted this recipe for a full-sized pecan pie – here are the details to fill 12 tart cases:
- 55g unsalted butter
- 55g golden syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 110g brown sugar
- 2 free-range eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp bourbon (or to taste)
- 150g pecan halves, crumbled into small pieces – reserve 12 for decoration
First, make the pastry cases – or buy some, if you like. Once these are ready, preheat the oven to 180C. If you’ve made your own pastry, leave the cases in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Place the butter, golden syrup, vanilla extract and sugar into a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat until melted, and mix well. Leave the mixture to cool for ten minutes, then stir in the bourbon, pecans and eggs.
Spoon the mixture into the pie cases and bake for about 20 minutes, checking half way through and turning if your oven is hotter at one side, like mine. Bring them out of the oven and press one of the reserved pecan halves on to the top of each. Let them cool to a temperature that won’t burn the roof of your mouth before serving with plenty of ice cream.
The final installment in this post is the one I’m most proud of – cranberry bakewell tarts. I made these over Christmas in place of the usual (and, to me, boring) mince pies. Now, I’ll eat a mince pie if it’s offered and I’m in the mood, but I’m not mad about them, and honestly I don’t know anyone who is. I wanted to make something that would be a bit different, and when someone at work gave me a recipe for mincemeat and frangipane pies my brain started whirring.
I started with the cranberry jam, to go in the bottom of the pastry cases – a very easy recipe, as follows:
- 250g fresh cranberries
- 2/3 cup jam sugar
- 1/3 cup water
Put all the ingredients in a pot together and boil until the cranberries have popped and broken down and the mixture is thick. Take off the heat and blend coarsely, taking care not to splash yourself with the hot jam. Decant into a bowl to help it cool down, and set aside while you make the frangipane, the recipe for which is…
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g sugar
- 100g unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- a few drops of almond essence (optional, if you prefer a stronger almond taste)
Mix all the ingredients together – that’s it! How easy is that?
Now, take your pastry cases out of the fridge (if homemade) or out of the cupboard (if not) and place a little jam on the bottom – about a teaspoon in each one. Pipe frangipane round the edges of each case, then smooth across the whole surface of the jam, sealing it in. Try not to fill the tarts right to the top, because the frangipane will expand when it bakes and you want to leave room to ice the bakewells. I would recommend quite deep pastry cases to let you fit in enough of the jam and frangipane for a nice balance of flavours.
Once they’re filled, bake the tarts for about 20 minutes at 180C, again turning half way if necessary. Keep an eye on them towards the end of the cooking time, you just want the pastry to be golden and not too browned. Bring them out of the oven and press the frangipane down with the back of a spoon to make enough room for the icing, if you have to. That frangipane is such a pastry hog, it needs put in its place. You don’t need loads of space though, just enough for a few millimeters thick layer of icing, otherwise it’s too sweet. Allow to cool for about twenty minutes, then you’re ready to ice them.
Make a simple white icing with icing sugar and hot water – sadly I slipped up here and didn’t write down the amounts I needed, sorry! Remember to add the hot water a tiny bit at a time, and then work quickly as the icing will start to set in the bowl. You can microwave it to loosen it up again, or if you place the bowl of icing over a pot of hot water this should help. Put about a teaspoon of icing on to the centre of each bakewell and smooth around until the whole top is covered as neatly as you can manage. Personally I hate this kind of icing and *always* have trouble with it, but I think I’m finally learning not too add too much water so I’m forced to describe it as a glaze rather than an icing and hope people don’t notice…
I chose to decorate the tarts with some red and green feathering, since it was Christmas. If you want to do this, wait until the white icing is cooled before you start. For the feathering, I used the ready-made writing icing you can buy in most supermarkets, which is quite dry and stiff. A freshly made icing piped from a very thin nozzle would be better but would also take considerably more work…
Finally you cover them in gold and silver glitter, because glitter always makes things look better, especially at Christmas.
They were pretty popular, especially with this guy: