Great Holiday Appetizer: Savory Cheese Tartlets with Herbed Berries
Delicious passed hors d’ oeuvres are part of the holiday party tradition, but I have to admit–I sure hate fussing over individual appetizers to make them picture perfect. These savory cheese tartlets with a simple cream cheese crust, topped with berries and herbs, are a great appetite-rouser, and they look great, too.
24 tartlets, 8 to 12 servings
Cream Cheese Dough
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (dip and sweep)
- pinch of salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
- 3 ounces cream cheese, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
- softened butter, for the pans (optional)
- 3 ounces rindless goat cheese, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey, preferably full-flavored, such as chestnut or thyme, warmed
- About 1 cup mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries, and sliced strawberries)
- Small fresh thyme leaves, removed from their stems, for garnish
Cream Cheese Dough
- To make the dough: Combine the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade and pulse to combine. Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse about 10 times, until the mixture begins to clump together. Gather up the dough and shape into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and easy to handle, about 2 hours.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Have ready two 12-cup miniature muffin pans (each cup measuring 1 7/8 inches across the top and 7/8 inches deep), preferably nonstick. If the pans are not nonstick, lightly butter them.
- Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. One at a time, place a piece of dough in a muffin cup, and use your fingers to press it firmly and evenly up the sides to make a pastry shell. (A wooden tart tamper can help the job go quickly.) Freeze for 5 minutes.
- To make the filling: Mash the goat cheese and cream cheese until smooth. Add the egg, yolk, minced thyme, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined. Spoon equal amounts of the filling into the chilled pastry shells.
- Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is puffed, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Remove the tartlets from the pans and transfer to a wire cake rack to cool completely. (If you wish, warm the tartlets in a preheated 350F oven for 5 minutes before serving.)
- Just before serving, lightly brush the tops of the tartlets with about half of the honey. Arrange the berries on top as desired. Drizzle with the remaining honey. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and serve.
Note: You will need two 12-cup mini-muffin pans, measuring 1 7/8 inches across and 7/8 inches deep. I also like a wooden tart tamper to press the dough into shape. Both of these are available at amazon.com and kitchenware stores.
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