Now. Now’s about the time when I want to eat all the things that aren’t ready yet. The tomatoes, the melons, the strawberries! I have bought tomatoes more times then I should have this spring, hoping they would be ripe and luscious, only to be greeted with mealy and lack luster flesh. Their red shiny skins trick me, and I’m always disappointed when I cut into them at home. Joel tells me to have patience. One perfectly ripe tomato is better then a million out of season tomatoes.
Strawberries in Oregon fall into the same category. Red, fragrant even, and yet when they are revealed for who they really are under the edge of my knife, they are white straight to the core.
A trick for all the premature fruit? Roasting! Roasting brings out the sweetness of both these little sirens, coaxing something hard and bland into soft and sweet with concentrated flavors.
Because these little tarts are baked, the strawberries are better then if I had served them fresh!
The pastry I use here is what makes these so easy and fantastic. This is a pre-made puff pastry from Grand Central Bakery. I was so excited when I saw it at one of their locations in Portland. It’s in the ready made cases in all their locations (they have other fabulous pastry items too) and it’s made with all butter. It’s far better tasting and quality then what you get in that grocery store puff pastry, and it has all real ingredients! It’s my new secret weapon, and I’m not paid to say that.
If you don’t have a Grand Central Bakery by you, check with your local bakeries. They might have something delicious too! You could also be super ambitious and make your own puff pastry.
Making these tarts just requires cutting up the berries, mixing them with some butter and sugar, and assembling the tarts. They bake up buttery and flaky and smell so maddeningly delicious while they are baking.
I have the whole thing bookmarked. It’s a gorgeous book and really fun to read. Check it out: Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets and Recipes From Our Kitchen. You might like to know that this one was totally on my list!
When the tarts come out of the oven, you can let them cool and top with powdered sugar:
- 1 package Grand Central U-Bake Classic Puff Pastry or 1 pound, 12 oz package other brand prepared puff pastry
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water or milk
- Powdered sugar for dusting, real whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream (optional)
- Defrost puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter for about 3 hours. The dough should be chilled but pliable.
- In a small bowl, crack the egg and add in the water or milk. Lightly whisk and set aside. This is your egg wash for later.
- Melt the butter and toss in a medium bowl with the strawberries. Set aside.
- Unroll the thawed pastry and cut in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out so that you have one side that is at least 14 inches. I like to roll it about 10-12 times, until it gets a couple inches bigger then it is out of the package. Cutting the sheet of pastry in half makes for easier rolling, but requires repeating the rolling and cutting steps. Do whatever works for you and your work surface.
- Cut the pastry into squares that are about 4 inches x 4 inches. Transfer each square to a parchment lined baking sheet, evenly spacing them on the sheet. Save any strips or scraps of puff pastry (see below for ideas).
- Toss the brown sugar, granulated sugar and salt in with the strawberry mixture. Evenly pile the strawberry mixture into the center of each puff pastry square, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Lightly brush, using a pastry brush or two fingers, the borders with the egg wash. Fold the pastry border over like a picture frame, and gently press down on the corners to seal. Freeze for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 month, tightly wrapped.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. When ready to bake, brush the crusts with the egg wash and sprinkle with more granulated sugar. Bake from frozen until deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to keep crisp.
- To serve, put in a low-sided bowl with whipped cream, ice cream or simply dust with powdered sugar.
- Save those puff pastry scraps!
- Joel made a wonderful and quick appetizer by brushing this garlic butter on the dough, and sprinkling grated mild cheddar cheese on top.
- Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese when it comes out and add freshly ground black pepper.
- Another great way to use up puff pastry scraps is to make single crusted mini pot pies. Just fill small ramekins with chicken, turkey or beef filling, drape the pastry on top, arranging in an overlapping pattern and brush with egg wash.
- If you don’t want use the scraps up when you make the tarts, you can re-wrap them and re-freeze them for another day.
Puff pastry, Grand Central Bakery