Sweet Little Mouthfuls: Jam Tartlets

I have been meaning to make John Barricelli's recipe for Jam Tartlets ever since my husband gave me a copy of The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook. The picture of the tarts in the cookbook is just so darn cute. But somehow I let two and half years go by before I finally got around to trying the recipe.

The tarts are straightforward. At bottom, they are simply pâte sucrée, jam, and streusel. You make the pâte sucrée by beating butter, sugar, and salt until fluffy, adding an egg and an egg yolk, and then adding flour. While it's a snap to make the dough, you do have to chill it for at least a couple of hours before you can use it.

Once the dough is chilled, you roll it out, cut circles slightly larger than the ring molds you are using (I used 2.5-inch ring molds, so I cut out circles 3.25-inches in diameter), and fit the rounds of dough into the ring molds. (The recipe directs you to use 2-inch ring molds and says it yields 16 tartlets; with my slightly larger molds, I got a dozen.) After briefly chilling the filled molds, you spoon some jam onto each tart shell, cover the jam with streusel (made by working cubes of cold butter into a mixture of flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon), and bake.

Even though the recipe is not complicated, I ran into a couple of problems. First, the sweet tart crust was very sticky and soft, and I had difficulty rolling it out and fitting the cut rounds into the ring molds without stretching them. Second, when I made the streusel, it was just gorgeous -- a beautiful mix of distinct crumbs of various sizes. And there was plenty of streusel to go around, so that all of the jam was covered before I put the tarts in the oven. But during baking, the streusel melted, losing all of its crumb-ness and exposing large swaths of jam. I was quite disappointed, because the crumb streusel is one of the most attractive features of the tartlets pictured in the cookbook (the cookbook photo is the same photo you can see here).

Nonetheless, I thought the tarts were fantastic. I was taken back to our July trip to the Pacific Northwest, which included a stay at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia. We had formal afternoon tea at the hotel, which included a three-tiered tray of bite-sized sweet and savory items: scones, lemon curd tarts, maracons, shortbread, cheesecake, Battenberg cake, and various sandwiches. These tartlets would have been right at home at that tea. The rich and buttery crust had a perfectly firm texture, and paired with the berry jam and the cinnamon streusel, the tarts were as delicious as they were adorable.

The only downside to the small size is that it's hard to resist the urge to eat more than one!

Recipe: "Jam Tartlets" from The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook by John Barricelli. Recipe available here at Leite's Culinaria.


Louise said…
It looks like the crumbs sank. :-( At Christmas I make a bar cookie with pretty much these same ingredients. Seeing the photos, I'm tempted to make this in a mini-muffin tin as I just got a tiny pastry tamper.