I failed at making a chocolate caramel pretzel tart a couple of months ago, and, while tasty, it might be the second ugliest thing I’ve ever made, just after those Apricot Pistachio Squares. I had extra ingredients so I made minis of the tart (as shown below), and it’s not so noticeable.
But once I took the tarts out of their pants, the crust completely fell apart. Leslie, Shirley, Tri, and Spencer came over for a little Middle Eastern potluck back in November. You can see my crumbly hot mess of the tart at the top of the photo below.
On top of the fact that the crust fell apart, the caramel didn’t come out creamy enough so it hardened. This all made the tart nearly impossible to cut with a fork without a messy explosion. Case in point below:
I recently had an opportunity to redeem myself with another tart crust that doesn’t fall apart, when I came across a recipe for a deliciously buttery pâte sablée. The flavor is rich and texture is similar to shortbread. I’m super excited to share the filling recipe soon, but I wanted to separate this recipe out since it’s versatile enough to be something I’ll definitely refer to again in the future.
Here is the recipe from a new cookbook I recently got, Baking: From My Home to Yours.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- Put the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in – you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.
- Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses – egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change – heads up.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
- Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
- FOR A PARTIALLY BAKED OR FULLY BAKED CRUST: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and fit the foil, butter side down, tightly against the crust. Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.
- Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).
- FOR A FULLY BAKED CRUST: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. If you want a more browned crust, continue baking for another minute or two, but keep a very close eye on the crust as it can go from golden to too dark quickly. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.
- TO PATCH A CRUST IF NECESSARY: If there are any cracks int he baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.
If you want to try a sweet tart dough with nuts, reduce the amount of flour to 1 1/4 cups and add 1/4 cup finely ground almonds or walnuts, pecans, or pistachios).
Storing tip: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer – it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.