The Avid Bakers Challenge this month is King Arthur Flour's Mushroom Cheddar Tarts. To make these, I substituted some onion, zucchini, and grape tomatoes for the mushrooms. The result was a delicious savory tart with the wonderful flavor of sharp cheddar cheese shining through.
The crust of this tart is flakey and buttery like standard pie crust, but it also contains a few ingredients that bring it to another level... such as cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese powder, and Tapatio hot sauce.
This is a great make-ahead dish that can be reheated just before serving.
The recipe calls for Vermont Sharp Cheddar Cheese powder, a product sold by King Arthur Flour (of course I had some on hand). Cabot also sells a Vermont cheddar cheese powder. If you don't have either powdered cheese available (they are great in pizza crust) you can also substitute finely grated parmesan cheese.
Some of the other Avid Bakers mentioned that the original recipe produced way too much crust for the filling, so I cut the crust ingredients in half. The original recipe is for bite-sized tarts, which would be perfect for appetizers. By all means, make these tarts in any size you like. The baking time was pretty much the same.
I chose to make these in five 4 1/2 inch tart pans so we could have them for dinner. I think if I had made them in mini muffin tins, I would have popped them all in my mouth. They were that good. Even Mr. Kitchen, who is not a big fan of onions, bell pepper, or zucchini, loved them. Winning!
I am definitely making these again.
Baking tip: I highly recommend using a scale when measuring the crust ingredients.
Vegetable and Cheddar Tarts
1/2 C (4 ounces) cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 C ( 5.75 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 C (1 ounce) powdered cheddar cheese or finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 ounces of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
A dash of hot sauce of your choice (I used Tapatio)
1/4 C ice water
1 T butter
3 to 4 ounces of zucchini, skin on (about 1/3 of a medium zucchini), cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces
1/4 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 large eggs
3/4 C milk (I used low fat)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 C (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
A handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced and placed on paper towels to remove extra moisture.
Assemble the crust
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the dry ingredients and the butter and pulse until you get a crumbly mixture.
- Add the cheddar cheese, hot sauce, and the water, and pulse (not too much) until the ingredients are blended into a chunky mess of pea sized pieces of dough. If it is too dry (mine was not), add a tablespoon or more of water.
- Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, press it into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough out to a 10" by 13" rectangle. Cut the dough into circles to fit five 4 1/2 inch tart pans. Pull the extra pieces together to continue to create dough circles. Press the dough into the pans. Alternatively, to make mini tarts, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and press into the cups of a square mini tart pan or a mini muffin pan. The dough is really easy to shape and patch.
- Place the shaped crusts in the refrigerator while making the filling.
Mix the filling
- Saute the zucchini, onion, and bell pepper in the butter until the zucchini is tender but not mushy. Some pieces can be slightly browned. That is a good thing. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and thyme together.
- When the crusts are chilled, evenly divide the vegetables into the crusts.
- Evenly divide the shredded cheddar and place it into each crust.
- Pour the egg mixture evenly into each crust.
- Top with slices of cherry/grape tomatoes (6 for the larger tart pans, maybe one or two for mini tarts).
- If you are using the 4 1/4 inch tart pans with removable bottoms, place them on a baking sheet so it will catch any leaks.
- Bake the tarts for 18 to 23 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans.
- Serve warm.
- To make ahead, refrigerate and reheat for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.