A weekend breakfast? Easter brunch? A platter of Bacon & Egg Tarts with Cornmeal and Black Pepper Pastry is perfect for either. Another easily prepared morning meal when you start a day ahead. Make the pastry dough, then line and freeze the tartlet pans overnight. (I recommend freezing the dough-lined tartlet pans for at least 30 minutes even if planning to bake the tarts immediately.) Bake the individual tart crusts the morning you plan to serve. Fry the bacon, fill the baked tartlet crusts and bake another 15 minutes or so, depending on size and depth of tins. Add a fruit or leafy green salad and, Voilà... breakfast!
I made small individual tarts filled with Parmesan cheese, apple-smoked bacon, and eggs in cornmeal and coarse black pepper crusts for breakfast today. I used shallow Matfer tin molds, but muffin tins would also work nicely, and hold more of the ingredients. Since the tart crusts I made were small and shallow, I ended up separating the yolks from the whites,and placing one yolk in each tart shell. I then added back egg whites to the tart shells by the teaspoonfull. Cracking a whole egg into a bacon and Parmesan-filled shell resulted in much of the egg white spilling out and onto the baking sheet. Using muffin tins with deeper cavities would prevent this from happening.
Rectangular Financier Molds (3 7/8-by-1 7/8-inches)
Round Tartlet Molds (3 3/8-inch diameter)
or, Muffin Tins
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
• 8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
• 4 tablespoons ice water
FILLING, PER INDIVIDUAL SERVING:
• 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
• 1/2 strip apple-smoked bacon, partially cooked but still pliable; either left whole or diced
• 1 medium organic egg
• minced fresh parsley, for sprinkling
TO MAKE THE TART CRUSTS:
1. Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, and coarse black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once to combine. Add the butter and pulse briefly, until the size of small peas. Slowly add the ice water while continuing to pulse and stop when the dough just begins to clump. Do not over-process.
2. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap; flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic; refrigerate 2 hours before rolling.
3. Roll the pastry dough, dusted lightly with flour, in between a sheet of wax paper and plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Line the tartlet molds and trim along the edges. There should be enough pastry dough to line approximately 20 tartlet molds. NOTE... a little trick I learned from my niece who attended the French Culinary Institute: Top the dough-lined tartlet mold with an identical mold, pressing together gently; freeze for at least 30 minutes. Turn the tartlet molds upside-down on a sheet pan to bake. This will reduce shrinkage of the tart crust while baking.
4. If using muffin tins instead of tartlet molds, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8-inch and cut rounds with a 4-inch diameter cookie cutter (or use a 4-inch diameter plate as a template and cut rounds with a sharp knife). Gently, and without stretching, press the pastry into the muffin tin. Because of the depth of muffin tins, the dough will crease in places. Be patient and genty press pastry onto the bottom and sides. Place the muffin tin in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. When you are ready to bake, line each pastry with a small round of wax paper and fill with dried beans. This will help avoid shrinkage of the tart dough while baking. You will get approximately 10 tarts with this recipe if using muffin tins.
5. Place the tarlet molds on a rimmed baking sheet, and/or muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 400˚F oven. Bake for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven. Carefully remove the wax paper and dried beans from the tart shells. The crusts should be a light golden color. Reduce oven temperature to 350˚F.
FILLING and BAKING:
1. Sprinkle the bottom of each tart crust with enough Parmesan to cover, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. If using an entire 1/2 slice of cooked bacon, lay the slice over the Parmesan, bending to fit molds. Separate the egg yolk from the whites and place egg yolk in tart shell; add egg whites to the tart shell by the teaspoonful. If making tarts using the muffin tins, it will not be necessary to separate the egg yolk from the white; but add the entire egg to the muffin tin tart crust very slowly.
2. Bake tarts on the middle rack of the 350˚F oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the egg is done to your liking. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the minced fresh parsley. Serve.
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