Strawberry-rhubarb tartlets

AKA the most beautiful and delightful thing to ever come out of my kitchen, I think. Usually I don’t like cute things, but these are awesome.

So I decided the other day, since it was rhubarb season, that I had to make something rhubarb (this is a yearly tradition that only happens once a summer). I wanted something single-serving because if it’s a whole pie or crisp, I will just sit there digging my fork into it endlessly. I am not worried about portion size or calories, more that this is disgusting and uncivilized and then if I have to feed it to anyone else, I have to be like, “Um, stay away from that corner.” And then people are like, “Ew, what is wrong with you?” and I’m like, “I live by myself.” So I decided I should try to make mini pies in my muffin tin, using the pie dough Jacqui and I made in our pie class. I wasn’t sure if this was a real thing, so I googled around and discovered that because of Pushing Daisies (a show I did not watch much and thus, according to the Consummate Dilettante, caused to be canceled) (note to the Consummate Dilettante: the reason I did not watch it much was that it was not very good), cup pies had a renaissance a few years ago. I.e., like three people made them and then they disappeared again.

I decided I would just improvise. I found various recipes for various strawberry-rhubarb-related things, mostly free-form mini tartlets; I finally chose to adapt the Brown Eyed Baker’s tartlets. (I have brown eyes too! CRAZY.)

I started out by chopping my beautiful rhubarb while, extremely belatedly, watching the finale of Saturday Night Live. (I was coerced; it sucked.)

Most photos courtesy of Marissa! Can’t remember which specifically.

My four stalks came out to approximately a pound and a half. (Look at my Twitter! Fairway Tweeted at me! Because I Tweeted at them first! It was cool.) I then sliced about half a pound of strawberries—half of one of the long giant containers—and left them on the cutting board …

No idea how Marissa managed this one but I kind of like it.

… while I put the rhubarb dice, brown sugar (which I made specifically for this purpose… using my own recipe), white sugar, a bit of vanilla and salt, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. I let them cook for about ten or fifteen minutes, until it was beginning to form a mush, and then turned off the heat and added the strawberries for convenience.

So. All this is assuming you already have your pie crust made. Mine was from the freezer; yours should be some sort of easy påte (well, that’s the wrong accent, but I think it looks cooler) brisée; it might as well be Julia Child’s, or perhaps Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s.

All those white spots are BUTTER.

Here is where things got stressful. There was a lot of, er, banter between Marissa and me.

Me: These tartlets are totally going to stick in these muffin tins.
Her: You should probably buy those muffin cup thingies.
Me: That is not helpful. I need tartlets right now.
Her: Isn’t there something called parchment paper or something?
Marissa: [very excited about saying something intelligent vis-a-vis cooking]

So Marissa started cutting squares out of parchment paper while I rolled out my dough to a suitable thinness and cut circles out of them. At first I used a mug; after I had an idea of how big I wanted them to be, I did it freehand. I put the dough circle on the parchment paper and molded the package together into the muffin … tins. What do you call one thing in the muffin tin?

After a while I was like, shit, the parchment paper is going to bake into the pie dough and we are going to have to eat it. So we switched to just doing a small circle of parchment paper on the bottom, and then the dough just molded by itself into the muffin tin. Then I decided I might as well just put them in by themselves, with no parchment paper. We ended up with twelve tartlets with varying degrees of parchment paper attached.

I added as much strawberry-rhubarb mixture as would fit into each; I have some left over for further uses.

These look EXACTLY like the strawberry tartlets in Amelia Bedelia and the Baby. I loved that book when I was like three. It was clearly an unconscious influence.

They went into the oven. Marissa, who had been asking to leave for several hours but had not been allowed, left. I baked them for  25 or 30 minutes (after I took them out and put them back in, I did not set a timer, so who really knows), until they were lightly browned. (While I was baking them, I had some friends over—non-Marissa friends—and was very frazzled and kind of going crazy with the tartlets. One friend remarked to the other, “Her blog is called The Relatively Shitty Cook.”)

All of the tartlets came out ridiculously easily; I don’t know if this is because the muffin tin is nonstick or because the pie dough is extremely buttery, but either way it was all fine. I did have to use a knife where the filling had stuck to the tin, but it was really easy and noncatastrophic.

The friends who tasted them with me agreed with me (I think?) that they were a bit too tart; regardless, everyone seemed to like them. Because they are awesome.

Since you’re precooking the rhubarb, though, you can test for sweetness in a way you can’t if they’re raw; I would have added a bit more sugar if I had thought to do this. But if you’re baking with rhubarb it’s usually not because you want a super-sweet dessert.

Streusel on top might not have been amiss, but I got lazy. I’d recommend adding a bit of sugar to the top, perhaps confectioner’s, although that always goes into my lungs.

Strawberry-rhubarb tartlets
Adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker

1 recipe pie dough
~  1 1/2 lb rhubarb
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c cornstarch (this felt like a lot to me, but it seemed to work out perfectly)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla (or a few small glugs)
1/2 strawberries (or change the ratio of strawberry:rhubarb according to your preference)

Make your pie dough—enough for one approximately nine-inch pie. (I wasn’t exact; you can definitely use more dough if you end up with it—they’ll just be a little thicker all around.) Preheat the oven to 375°.

Cut your rhubarb into approximately half-inch dice. Add it to a small saucepan along with the sugars, vanilla, cornstarch, and salt. Turn the heat on low and cook for about ten minutes (or really until your desired level of gooiness; it probably won’t break down much more in the oven). Add strawberries after you’ve turned off the heat.

While the rhubarb is cooking, shape your tartlet shells. I would suggest just doing this freehand, in squares; it’s easiest. You can just roll out your dough into a vague circle/square shape and then cut squares out of it with a dough blade or butter knife; just be careful getting the squares off your counter, or they will completely squash and you’ll have to start over. But at this size, you can just sort of stretch them, carefully, by hand.

If your muffin tin isn’t nonstick or you have anxiety problems (high five), line the muffin tins with squares or circles of parchment paper all around. Put the dough squares/circles into the tin, making sure to push them down so they’re not just sitting on top; they should be comfortably fitted to the muffin tin. Add a few spoonfuls of strawberry-rhubarb mixture to each shell.

Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until at your desired brownness. (See original recipe for some notes on egg wash—I didn’t bother because I had completely run out of patience by this point.)


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