Crème Fraîche Tarts with Half-Dried Tomatoes and Cheese
Beast, Portland, OR
This is one of Beard Award winner Naomi Pomeroy’s favorite ways to top her crème fraîche tarts: the tomatoes are bright and acidic and add a beautiful burst of color, while a funky cheese plays against the tender pastry. The whole thing gets balanced with a dose of herbaceous flavor from the thyme or savory in the half-dried tomatoes. You can cut the dough into small pieces for tiny passed appetizers or use the whole batch for a full-sized tart that’s perfect for lunch with a simple salad.
6 to 8 servings
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and refrigerated until needed
- 1 cup cold crème fraîche or sour cream, refrigerated until needed
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 8 ounces cold, strongly flavored soft cheese (such as brie or taleggio), sliced into 1/8-inch thick pieces
- 1 recipe half-dried tomatoes
Make the dough: in a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and process briefly to mix. Using the pulse function, add the butter, a few cubes at a time, pulsing 15 to 20 times until the butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Work quickly to ensure the butter doesn’t warm up too much. Add the crème fraîche directly from the refrigerator and pulse 4 to 6 times to incorporate. Then pulse another 4 to 6 times, until the dough begins to have a slightly uniform but pebbly texture and no dry flour remains.
Stretch a 2-foot-long sheet of plastic wrap across a clean work surface. Turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap. Gather all of the edges of the plastic wrap around the dough, press them together, and form the dough into a ball. Tap the dough ball on the countertop to shape it into a rectangle, about 6 by 10 inches, flattening the top surface at the end to create an even shape. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 or for up to 24 hours.
Unwrap the dough and allow it to rest for no more than 15 to 20 minutes, just until it is slightly pliable. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Using a rolling pin, whack the dough several times across its surface to soften it. Pick up the dough, flour the work surface again ever so slightly, and return the dough to the surface.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches, with the long side parallel to the countertop’s edge. Fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter. The dough will look like a book: with a spine (the folded edge) on one side and the open edge on the other. Now rotate the “book” so the spine is facing your body, parallel to the countertop’s edge. Roll the dough out again to an 8 by 12-inch rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds again. Rotate the “book” one more time so the spine is facing your body and roll out the dough a third time to a 9 by 15-inch rectangle that’s about 1⁄4-inch thick. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into 3 strips, each 3 by 15 inches. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough strips on the prepared baking sheet so they are not touching and prick them all over with a fork, leaving a 1⁄4-inch gap around the edge. Put the baking sheet with the dough into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Make the egg wash: in a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream until well blended.
Make the tart: remove the dough strips from the freezer and, using a pastry brush, brush each strip with the egg wash, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn down the oven to 375°F, and wait for a few minutes for the temperature to adjust. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes more, until the pastry is rich golden brown. Carefully lift up the pastry with a metal spatula to ensure that the bottom is also toasted brown.
Arrange the cheese slices along the baked pastry strips, dividing them evenly and leaving 1⁄4-inch of pastry uncovered around the edges. Spoon the tomatoes, cut side up, over the cheese and return the tarts to the 375°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, until the pastry is very dark golden brown. Cut crosswise into pieces and serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography credit: Chris Court © 2016