Friday, December 11, 2009

Tomato Tartlets

Tomato Tartlets

All-purpose flour, for rolling
1/2 pound all-butter puff pastry
30 cherry tomatoes (about 1 pound), halved crosswise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound fresh ricotta

Preheat the oven to 425° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Position racks in the middle and upper thirds of the oven. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 9 1/2-by-17 1/2-inch rectangle. Using a straight edge, trim the pastry to a 9-by-17-inch rectangle. Transfer the pastry to the baking sheet and poke all over with a fork. Top with another sheet of parchment and another baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes on the middle rack, until golden. Remove the top sheet and parchment paper and bake the pastry until lightly browned and dry, about 10 minutes longer. Slide the paper and pastry onto a rack and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and 2 teaspoons of thyme and season with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet, cut side up, and bake on the upper rack for about 15 minutes, until softened slightly. Let cool.

In a food processor, puree the ricotta until very creamy. Spread the ricotta over the pastry and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up on the ricotta in 5 rows of 12. Sprinkle lightly with fresh thyme. Using a long knife, cut the pastry between the tomatoes into 60 squares. Transfer the tartlets to platters and serve at once.

My Comments & Tips
  • Isn't the purpose of puff pastry to puff?  This was the first time I used the two baking sheet method to bake the puff pastry flat.  One very important tip - DO NOT use air bake cookie sheets to do this!  I don't know if all air bake cookie sheets are the same, but mine have 1 small hole on the bottom of each corner.  I think this caused hot air to flow between the cookie sheets and burn my first attempt!  I should have checked earlier but by 25 minutes the pastry was very dark brown.  It's a good thing there are two sheets of puff pastry in each box!  For the second attempt I actually used two baking sheets (aka jelly roll pans) and it turned out fine.  But I did check it after 15 minutes this time.
  • Cutting a tomato crosswise means not through the stem.  The ones I did this way deformed when roasting.  You will essentially want the top and bottom of the tomato.  I know this sounds silly but how was I supposed to be sure what crosswise meant? 
  • The tomatoes smell divine after roasting in the oven!
  • I prepared the puff pastry and tomatoes early to allow them to cool. 
  • Creaming the ricotta in the food processor made it super smooth and creamy!  Nice change of texture for ricotta.
  • A  pizza cutter worked great for cutting the pastry.
  • A tasty treat!

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