Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tip Tops

Katie's Tip Tops

During my ten years as a pastry chef, I found myself returning again and again to very simple recipes that didn't require a million steps or weren't constructed with caramel cages or chocolate doodads. In my opinion, these little pastries are what baking is all about. There are no fancy ingredients; it doesn't get more basic than butter, eggs, flour, and jam. And if strawberries are out of season, they are pretty darn delicious with just the whipped cream. These tartlets are best accompanied by a big mug of really strong, sweet tea.

The "Katie" in this recipe is the name of a good friend's Irish grandmother, who won her grandson's heart by making these lovely little tartlets for him.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Equipment: Twenty-two 2½-wide, ¾-inch tall tartlet pans.

2 cups all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tbl sugar (I use C&H superfine baking sugar)
8 Tbls cold butter (1 stick)
6 Tbls cold shortening
5-6 Tbls ice water

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl with a whip. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the butter/shortening chunks are pea size. You can also do this in a Cuisinart, just don't over mix it or you will rile up the proteins in the flour, and you will end up rolling out flour cement. Bring the mixture together with your hands and on a floured board, knead into a ball. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

On a floured board, roll out dough until 1/8-inch thick. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut out 22 rounds. Fit into tartlet pans and return these to the refrigerator to chill (and relax) while making the filling.

7 Tbls all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 eggs
6 Tbls soft, room temperature butter
7 Tbls sugar (I use C&H superfine baking sugar)
Strawberry jam

Combine the flour and baking power. Set aside. Lightly whip the eggs. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs slowly until the mixture comes together. Fold in the flour mixture by hand with a whip.

Remove the tartlets from the refrigerator and fill the bottom of each one with ¼ teaspoon of strawberry jam. Then top the jam with a very rounded teaspoon of filling.

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Assembling Tip Tops
¼ cup whipping cream
1 Tbl sugar (superfine please)
1 basket strawberries

Whip the cream and sugar together to soft peak. Place the whipping cream in a pastry bag and pipe a rosette on top of each tartlet, cover the top of the tartlet. Alternatively, with a spoon, dollop on a healthy mound. Slice the strawberries into quarters and place two pieces on top of each tartlets, sort of like wings.

These are truly delicious.

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