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Homemade puff pastry? How’s a caramelized onion tart & some dessert sound?

August 23, 2010

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tarts

Puff pasty isn’t something I’ve ever thought about making myself.  In fact, while I’m sure I haven’t gone my whole life without eating it, I can’t remember a single occasion that I have.  So when Ingrid suggested that she, Monica, and I make puff pastry, I was about as excited as I get when I have to go to the dentist.  Seriously.  I dreaded having to make this the same way I dread those 6 month visits.  {Sorry, Ingrid!}

But I’m in this cheesy trio for the long haul, so I had to climb on board the puff pastry wagon anyway.  As it turned out, I not only enjoyed making it, but I loved eating it.  Flat out, undeniably, adored it.  Puff pastry makes me weak in the knees and I don’t care who knows it.

Would you look at that flaky pastry??

The process of making the puff pastry was a snap.  I didn’t run into any trouble at all, but I give Monica some of the credit for that because she made hers first and told us what to expect.  I wasn’t feeling that invested in the pastry when this adventure began, so I didn’t bother with measuring out the dough as I rolled it.  In fact, I didn’t even make the full recipe, but halved it instead.  (Trust me, once I realized how amazing it was, I totally regretted that decision!)

I decided to go for a sweet treat and a savory one.  The pretty little dessert tarts tasted great and were so easy that the kids could make their own.  A little peanut butter in the bottom, topped with some chocolate and you’ve got it.  Yum.  Finish up with a dusting of powdered sugar and you’ve got an impressive dessert.

As lovely as they turned out, they’ve got nothing on the star of my show, so let’s get right to it.

Caramelized Onion Tart

Oh, be still my heart, you caramelized onion tart.  This baby knocked our socks off.  Jim and I ate the entire thing all by ourselves, and I’m not ashamed to tell you that.  In fact, just looking at the photos makes me wish I had a big piece in front of me right now.  To tell you this is delicious is an absolute understatement.  Words just can’t describe it’s goodness.  Not only did it remind us of the pan-fried onion dip we’re crazy about, but it surpassed it by miles.

I will definitely be making this again, and when I do, it will serve as our main dish with a side of salad, because there’s just no need to expect it to share the spotlight.  And the great thing about it is that it was so darn easy to make.  Just a few everyday ingredients come together to make an incredibly delicious dish.  I will warn you that if you’re the mascara-wearing type, you might want to go for the waterproof version when you prepare this.  I was standing at the stove caramelizing onions with big tears rolling down my cheeks.  Well worth it though, so you’ll get no complaints from me.

I’m sharing a lot of recipes here and I know this post is kind of like a marathon, so if you’re still reading, I thank you.  Will I make my own puff pastry again?  I really don’t know.  It was totally do-able, but when I think that I can just buy it in the grocery store and save my butter for something else, things get a little iffy.  I do thank Ingrid for pushing me into challenging myself though.  The payoff was excellent.

I can’t wait to see what Ingrid and Monica have done with their puff pastry.  Hope you head over and check it out too.

{one year ago:  blackberry ice cream & blackberry lime sorbet}

Recipe:  Puff Pastry

(found at Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet)

4 1/2 sticks (18 oz) cold unsalted butter
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 oz) very cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes.  Transfer the cubes to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the flour and salt to the bowl also and use your hands to mix briefly, until the butter is coated with flour.  Put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.  Combine the water and vinegar in a measuring cup and chill this mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes as well.

After 20 minutes, remove the mixer bowl from the fridge and attach to a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for 1  minute.  You want the butter to break into smaller pieces of varying sizes (the largest about 1/2-inch square); be careful, however, not to over-mix – if the butter is too small, it will be unable to form flaky layers in your puff pastry. 

With the mixer still on low speed, slowly add the water/vinegar mixture to the bowl, drizzling in different points around the bowl.  When the dough begins to come together in large chunks (within about 10 seconds), stop the mixer.  The dough will be slightly moist but it will not look smooth.   Turn the contents of the bowl onto a floured work surface.

Use your hands to shape the dough into a rough rectangle about 6 x 8 inches and 1 1/2 inches thick.  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 14 x 16-inch rectangle.  You can flour the dough a bit if necessary, but brush the excess flour away once you’ve finished rolling the dough out.  Fold the dough into thirds like a letter.   Start with a narrower side facing you and begin by folding the bottom third up.  Next, fold the top third down to complete the “turn.”

After you complete the first turn, roll your rolling pin across the top of the dough gently 1 or 2 times, just to fuse the dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  You’ll want to repeat this process 2 more times – to create three turns total.  Continue to chill the dough for 30 minutes between turns.  Once you’ve completed all 3 turns, chill the dough (wrapped in plastic wrap) for at least 1 hour before using.

The dough can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen (double-wrapped in plastic wrap) for 4-6 weeks.  Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 1/4 pounds of dough

Recipe:  Caramelized Onion Tart

(Thank you, Alice, from Savory Sweet Life!)

2 med-large yellow onions, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves  **(I only had dried thyme available and used it instead of fresh.)

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

4 tablespoons white wine, optional  **(I didn’t use any wine.)

1 package puff pastry, thawed

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, cook butter, thyme, onions, salt, pepper, sugar, and white wine for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and golden brown.  While onions are caramelizing, combine ricotta cheese and egg in a small bowl and set aside.  Unfold puff pastry sheets on a a large cookie sheet making sure both sheets connect in the middle of the pan.  Gently fold in each side of the puff pastry sheets approximately 1 inch.  Spread ricotta cheese mixture evenly over the puff pastry and lightly sprinkle most of the Parmesan cheese on top.  Add caramelized onions evenly over the cheese mixture and top off by sprinkling any remaining Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until puff pastry is golden brown.

Recipe:  Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tarts

puff pastry, homemade or store-bought, thawed

1 tsp. of peanut butter for each tart

your favorite chocolate, about 1 oz. for each tart

powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roll your sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut into 3″ squares.  Gently press each square into the cups of a muffin tin.  Spoon a teaspoon of peanut butter into the bottom of each tart shell.  Sprinkle each with chocolate.  Bake about 10 minutes or until golden.  Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Carefully transfer tarts to serving plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2010 7:54 am

    Kudos to you for making your own puff pasty. I must confess that I am in the “buy-it” puff pastry category. I always have a roll in the freezer waiting for a chicken pie filling or like you, an onion tart. Yours looks absolutely fabulous.
    You may enjoy a look at the recipe I posted for an onion tart on June 25, 2010 http://thecompletecookbook.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/onion-tart/
    Enjoy.
    :-) Mandy

  2. August 23, 2010 8:56 am

    That caramelized onion tart is seriously calling out my name. I can hear it.

  3. August 23, 2010 9:42 am

    Oh, I do love a good savory tart–preferably with a salad and a nice glass of wine. Sounds and looks divine.

  4. August 23, 2010 10:31 am

    You guys are awesome! I love that you push each other to try things you wouldnt normally try!

  5. August 23, 2010 10:45 am

    Yeah! You go girl!!! You got super puffy puff pastry! That’s what I wanted. Mine were only slightly puff. Guess I gotta try the real deal recipe so I can get puffy buttery layers.
    ~ingrid

  6. August 23, 2010 12:03 pm

    Your puff pastry is so puffy! I’m jealous! Everytime I decide I’m not going to make this again you make me change my mind. Between Ingrid’s palmiers and your tarts I want to try it again just so I can see what I’m missing. With your push I might try again. Thanks Michelle.

    BTW, I didn’t wait til the 1.5 minute mark…I didn’t even get that far along. I still had 40 seconds to go before the timer was up before I needed to add the liquid when it had already come together in a ball. It was about 70 degrees in my house so I don’t it was the heat, but a reader just pointed out that she thinks I had issues because of the higher fat butter I used. Apparently it’s softer and melts quicker. Who knew?

    I’m glad to be baking with you two even if they’re not successes every month!

  7. August 23, 2010 4:24 pm

    Even if you don’t make it again, I think I WILL! I always want a homemade alternative to the Pillsbury dough for making ham and cheese pockets or pizza pockets for the kids, and since you can freeze this, it would be so handy! Maybe a little too handy… I’ll really have to try to set it aside for the kids and not devour it myself.

  8. August 23, 2010 4:43 pm

    YUM!! I love making homemade puff pastry and can’t wait to make more in the future for my stepdaughters. Your tarts sound delicious!! Congrats on making this!

  9. August 23, 2010 4:51 pm

    I must admit, I am a little nervous about making my own puffed pasty. I am also one of the “buy-the pastry-dough-from-the-store” girls. BUT… I have been trying to take on a good cooking challenge, so this might just be the challenge I need. Plus, anything with peanut butter and chocolate is hard to resist!

  10. August 23, 2010 5:29 pm

    kudos, kudos, and more kudos to you! i’ve never endeavored to make puff pastry, but i love the stuff. your little puffs look delicious, and the onion tart ain’t bad either. :)

  11. August 23, 2010 8:01 pm

    Great job on the puff pastry! I just made some turnovers with frozen puff pastry and I must admit, I felt like I should at some point, at least try to make my own. It was great to read your experience making it. I think I’ll end up agreeing with you about the saving the butter for something else. And the fact that if I don’t make it myself, I can live in denial that there really is that much butter in the frozen stuff ;)

  12. oneordinaryday permalink
    August 23, 2010 8:34 pm

    Jen – Thanks for the kind comments. I’m a little proud of myself for making the puff pastry too. : ) But, listen, my gal Monica says there is no real butter in the frozen kind you buy at the grocery store!! I had no idea, so now I may have to keep making my own. I can’t imagine how they do it w/o the butter, but I might not want to know, right? Hope you let me know if you try it yourself. I’d love to hear how it turns out for you.
    ~ Michelle

  13. oneordinaryday permalink
    August 23, 2010 8:36 pm

    Megan – I think the fact that I wasn’t too thrilled with the puff pastry idea in the first place helped me not be nervous about it. It turned out to not be very hard at all and just a lot of chilling and clock-watching. Do it! You’ll be glad you did!
    ~ Michelle

  14. August 23, 2010 8:38 pm

    Amazing and delicious. I made it once (well, helped someone)…I can’t imagine doing it again either. Although it certainly makes for a great blog post!

  15. August 23, 2010 9:21 pm

    Not all brands of frozen puff pastry are butter free. I haven’t checked them all out but I’m certain the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry does not contain butter- I’ve looked!

  16. August 24, 2010 4:59 pm

    Oh my goodness. That caramelized onion tart. Yes please!!!! Wow that looks so good! Great job on the puff pastry!!!

  17. August 24, 2010 8:31 pm

    Okay, the chocolate and peanut butter tarts sound freaking delicious. I wish I could have one RIGHT NOW!!!

  18. August 24, 2010 11:27 pm

    Oh my, that onion tart, both of them really, but that tart needs to be on my dinner table this week. And bravo on the puff pastry, I failed miserably on my attempt :)

  19. August 25, 2010 7:56 am

    Wow, Michelle. This all looks so incredibly good, I wouldn’t know where to start if I had them in my home. Great job with making your puff pastry from scratch. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at that, but I always struggle with keeping buttery pastry cold and am afraid of wasting all that butter.

  20. August 26, 2010 12:15 am

    Your puff pastry is so nice and fluffy. Loving that onion tart! Of course the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tarts are something I will have to add to my bribery arsenal, as my boys love any PB!

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