I’m a devout believer in holidays (no work), and my cooking is always spontaneously inspired (sorry, no foresight for bringing you holiday meal plans ahead of time). In this case, it doesn’t matter one hoot, because these tarts are so versatile and phenomenal that you will be making them all summer, firecrackers or not! Today I bring you:

Strawberry, Wild Fennel and Sonoma Balsamic Tarts
Fresh Fig, Buttered Onion and Brie Tarts

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Thank you The Kitchen Sink Recipes for your inspiration, and Shanti of Shantilly Picnic (the flaky tart expert) for your advice!

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Firecracker Tarts

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Yield: 4 6-inch tarts

Ingredients

  • Crust Dough:
  • Flour - 3 cups
  • Butter - 1.5 sticks butter, or 12 tablespoons butter
  • Ice water - 8-9 tablespoons ice water (add ice to a cup and let it stand, or place a cup of water in the freezer for several minutes)
  • Egg (optional) - 1 egg for egg wash, 1 tablespoon milk
  • Fig Filling:
  • Butter - 2 tablespoons
  • Yellow onion - 1 large yellow onion or 2-3 small spring onions, sliced
  • Brie - 10 thin slices brie
  • Figs - 6 figs, sliced
  • Strawberry Filling:
  • Strawberries - 3 cups strawberries, sliced
  • Fennel leaves - 1/4 cup minced wild fennel leaves
  • Balsamic vinegar - 2 tablespoons
  • Lemon juice - 1.5 tablespoons
  • Sugar - 2 teaspoons
  • Brie - 10 thin slices brie

Instructions

  1. Crust:
  2. Put the flour in a bowl.
  3. Using a sharp knife, or pastry cutter, cut in the butter in small flakes, mixing occasionally to coat the butter with flour. When you've finished the butter, use your fingers to break up the butter and mix it into the flour until the flour is a cornmeal-like mixture, or like chunky sand. (If you have a food processor, put the flour and tablespoon-size chunks of butter in the food processor, and pulse until you have a cornmeal-like consistency).
  4. Add one tablespoon of ice water at a time, mixing with a spoon. Stop when the mixture just comes together. Less water is better. Though it will seem flaky, knead the dough in the bowl with your hands about 5 times to form a ball. Divide the ball into four pieces and put the bowl in the refrigerator.
  5. Lay out a large sheet of plastic wrap (about 12 inches by 12 inches) on the counter, and transfer one section of dough to the center of the plastic wrap, leaving the remaining dough in the refrigerator.
  6. Without kneading, use your hands to mold the dough into a ball. It shouldn't be perfect.
  7. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough. Using the roll of plastic wrap, or a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle about 1/4 inch think. This is a rustic tart - the circle won't be perfectly rounded. Put the plastic wrap-sandwiched circle in the refrigerator, laid flat.
  8. Repeat with the remaining sections.
  9. Once you've finished with the dough, preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your fillings.
  10. Grease two baking sheets with butter, or line with parchment paper.
  11. Fig Filling and Tart Assembly:
  12. Put the butter in a medium saucepan and melt partially over medium-high heat.
  13. When the butter is halfway melted, add the onions and mix well.
  14. Let the onions sit, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent. At that time, put a lid on top and let them sit for about 3 minutes. Lift the lid and stir. The onions should begin to brown on the bottom of the pan. Repeat until the onions are browned and supple. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  15. Remove two of the dough circles from the refrigerator. Peel away the plastic from both sides of the dough and lay the circles on one of the baking sheets.
  16. Line the bottom of each dough circle with a layer of 5 slices of brie.
  17. Next, add a layer of onions to each.
  18. Last, arrange your figs on top, in a semi-circle or other beautiful pattern.
  19. Fold up the edges of the tarts, pinching together the dough every 2 inches or so to create pleats, like a skirt. This will cradle the filling and close the dough around the tart more securely, and rustically adorn the edges.
  20. Place the tart on a baking sheet.
  21. Strawberry Filling and Tart Assembly:
  22. In a large bowl, mix together the strawberries, wild fennel leaves, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and sugar. Ideally, let the strawberries marinate for about 15 to 30 minutes.
  23. Remove the remaining two dough circles from the refrigerator, and remove the plastic wrap from both sides. Place them on the second baking sheet.
  24. Line the bottom of the dough circles with brie, 5 slices on each.
  25. Next, arrange the strawberries in a pinwheel or other beautiful pattern. Use them all up!
  26. Fold up the edges of the tarts, pinching together the dough every 2 inches or so to create pleats, like a skirt. This will cradle the filling and close the dough around the tart more securely, and rustically adorn the edges.
  27. Place the tart on a baking sheet.
  28. Baking:
  29. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
  30. Optional: Egg Wash: To fancify your tart, beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk. Using a pastry brush, or improvising with a piece of paper towel or even your fingers, brush the tart dough with the egg mixture. Coat the dough surface with a thin layer. This will give your tart a lovely sheen (of course, I forgot to do this). You can also sprinkle raw sugar over the entire tarts to add some sparkles and crunch.

Notes

Allergens: diary, eggs

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