Makes 24 miniature tatins
These tasty, savory, miniature pastries are a huge hit in my cooking classes. There is always a great sense of satisfaction when one removes a tray of these fragrant, golden nuggets from the oven. These are best warm from the oven but are also delicious at room temperature. They can serve as appetizers or as sides to a simple green salad.
Equipment: A 2 3/4-inch (7 cm) round biscuit cutter; 2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment; a food processor; 2 nonstick petit four molds or mini muffin tins, each with twelve 2 1/2-inch (6.5 cm) cups, or a 24-cup mini-muffin pan.
A 14-ounce (400 g) sheet of Blitz Puff Pastry or purchased all-butter puff pastry, thawed (see Note)
4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter
1 pound (500 g) onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half-moons
Fine sea salt
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces (125 g) soft fresh goat’s milk cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
3 large eggs, preferably organic and free-range, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme leaves
Fleur de sel, for garnish
1. Evenly center two racks in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. With the biscuit cutter, cut out 24 rounds of pastry. (Note: you will get the most from the pastry if you begin on the outside and cut rings as tightly as possible from the outside. Then work from the next large inside ring. I usually get 31 rounds out of a sheet.) Arrange the rounds side by side on the baking sheets. Prick them with a fork and freeze for at least 10 minutes.
3. In a skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and sweat—cook, covered, over low heat until soft and translucent—about 10 minutes. Season with pepper.
4. In the food processor, combine the goat cheese, lemon zest, eggs, and half of the thyme leaves and process to blend. Add the cheese mixture to the onions in the skillet and stir to blend. Taste for seasoning.
5. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture into each mold or muffin cup. Cover each one with a round of pastry.
6. Place the molds or tins in the oven and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Then remove them from the cups and turn them over, pastry side down. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with the remaining thyme leaves and fleur de sel.
Wine suggestion : The mineral-rich flavors of a blend of Marsanne, Clairette, Ugni Blanc, and Bourboulenc with their touch of spice make Domaine du Paternel Cassis Blanc de Blancs a perfect palate opener to pair with the tatins.
The secret : Make sure that you cut the pastry slightly larger than the diameter of the molds, since the pastry may shrink in baking.
Variations : Replace the goat cheese with grated cheddar and bits of bacon; Feta cheese; crabmeat and tarragon; or peas, scallions, and pancetta. Add herbs. Bake as simple, lighter, “quiche-like” bites without the pastry.
Note : In our tests, we have preferred Dufour brand frozen puff pastry, available at most specialty supermarkets. See www.dufourpastrykitchens.com. Be sure to leave ample time for thawing frozen dough, at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.
Recipe from The French Kitchen Cookbook, reprinted with permission from William Morrow. Copyright © 2013 by Patricia Wells