Category Archives: Pies and Tarts

Homemade Pop Tarts

My daughter loves to read ever since she was very young, and she loves all kinds of books…novels, science, history, comics and even cook books ! So, a lot of times, our bedtime reading will include looking at recipes, sweet or savoury, and deciding what we should try. Pop tarts was one of them that’s on the top of our list. It’s easy, colourful, fun and of course, super yummy ! Personally, I like them without the sprinkles, but my daughter will definitely disagree. She had so much fun putting on the glaze and the sprinkles….yeah, might be just a little too much…..    

Makes about 6 tarts

For the crust

  • 360 g all-purpose flour
  • 20 g granulated sugar
  • 2 g salt
  • 240 cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 2 eggs
  • 30 ml milk
  • 5 ml pure vanilla extract

For the glaze 

  • 120 g icing sugar 
  • 30-45 ml milk

Other ingredients

  • Fruit jam of choice (I used raspberry)
  • 1 egg white for brushing
  • 30 g vanilla sugar or granulated sugar 
  • Sprinkles for decorating
  1. To make the glaze, mix together icing sugar and milk until smooth, set aside
  2. To make the crust, put flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl
  3. Rub in chilled butter with fingers until butter is pea-sized
  4. Mix in eggs, milk and vanilla
  5. Gently press dough together, do not knead
  6. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight
  7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F
  8. Roll dough to about 0.5 cm in thickness. If dough was in the fridge overnight, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before rolling
  9. Cut into 8 cm x 12 cm rectangles (2 rectangles per tart)
  10. Place half of the rectangles on baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  11. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of fillings on top
  12. Brush sides with egg white and cover with the other half of rectangles
  13. Press sides gently to seal, then press down with a fork
  14. Make a few holes on top to vent
  15. Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
  16. Bake for about 30 minutes
  17. Cool, then decorate with glaze and sprinkles

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Maple Pecan Tart 

“Pee-can” or “Puh-kahn”, no matter how you pronounce it, pecan is a very delicious and nutritious nut ! It’s high in fibre, healthy fats, magnesium and many other vitamins and minerals. It contains quite a bit of calories though, so don’t overindulge yourself if you have to watch your calorie intake. (Yeah, I know how hard that is, especially with this yummy tart !) I originally made a pecan pie, but I just felt that a buttery and crumbly tart would work better, and with the maple syrup…..Mmmmm, just so rich, aromatic and satisfying !

I found this beautiful rectangular tart mold in a discount store a few weeks ago and it’s perfect ! At first, I was worried the tart would break cause it’s so long, but it came out really nice ! My only problem now is to resist having a second piece ! 

Makes one 4″ x 14″ rectangular or one 9″ round tart

For the tart 

  • 120 g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 180 g cake and pastry flour, sifted

For the filling

  • 150 g pecan halves
  • 100 g demerara or brown sugar
  • 40 g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 40 mL maple syrup
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  1. To make the tart, mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk, mix until blended
  3. Add flour all at once, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently knead dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  6. Knead dough until pliable
  7. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  8. Place inside slightly greased tart mold, trim off excess dough 
  9. Bake for about 8 minutes, let cool 
  10. Toast pecan in a pan without any oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, set aside and let cool 
  11. Whisk together eggs and sugars until frothy 
  12. Add maple syrup, vanilla and cornstarch and melted butter, whisk until blended 
  13. Stir in 1/2 of toasted pecans (try to save the better pieces to put on top later)
  14. Put filling into cooled tart shell and top with remaining pecans 
  15. Bake for about 40 minutes until crust is golden and filling is set
  16. Cool slightly, serve warm 


Spiced Pear Tart 

My kids love to eat any kind of pears ever since they were little, Anjou, Barlett, or Asian. Pears are all very sweet and tasty no matter how you eat them. You can enjoy them raw, cook, bake, poach, etc. They are also a good source of fibre and vitamin C. It’s pretty hard not to love them ! Fall is the season for pears, so I used some Barlett pears and made this Spiced Pear Tart. I spiced up a basic short crust  for the tart shell. The dough freezes well, so you can make it ahead of time. It can also turn into yummy cookies ! So don’t throw away the trimmings after you make the tarts. Just gather them together, roll it, cut it with cookie cutters and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350°F ! I baked mine into leaves and used them as garnish ! You can adjust the amount of spices used according to your taste, both in the tart shell and the fillings. I actually would prefer a bit spicier, but my daughter said this is perfect for her palate. Well, I have to listen to my little boss ! The tarts taste delicious on their own, but my little boss likes them with vanilla ice cream, even better !  

 

Makes four 4-inch tarts or eight 2-inch mini tarts    

For the tart shell 

  • 120 g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 75 g granulated sugar 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • 180 g cake and pastry flour 
  • 3 g ground ginger 
  • 2 g ground cinnamon 
  • Pinch of cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg 

For the fillings 

  • About 3-4 pears (wash, peel, core and cut into chunks)
  • 60 g brown sugar 
  • 3 g ground ginger 
  • 3 g ground cinnamon 
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 

For the crust 

  • 60 g quick oats 
  • 30 g all-purpose flour 
  • 30 g brown sugar 
  • 30 g unsalted butter, melted 
  1. To make the tart shells, sift together flour and spices 
  2. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until blended
  3. Mix in egg yolks
  4. Add flour mixture all at once, mix, then transfer onto a surface and gently knead dough together until everything just combined
  5. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  7. Knead dough until pliable
  8. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  9. Place inside slightly greased tart molds, trim off excess  
  10. Bake for about 8 minutes, let cool
  11. Meanwhile, prepare the fillings by mixing pear chunks with brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla 
  12. Spoon into cooled tart shell 
  13. Mix all crust ingredients together and spoon on top of fillings
  14. Bake at 350ºF for about 25 minutes until golden 
  15. Serve warm 

 

 

Blueberry Galette 

Can’t believe summer is half-way through already ! I have been really busy, driving the kids around to different activities, keeping them occupied. If you are a parent, you would know, summer is actually busier than school days ! But they are having so much fun…..swimming, trampoline park, bowling, sleep over…..Although I am exhausted at the end of the day, seeing their happy faces makes it all worth it. Hey, kids are supposed to sleep in, play lots and eat lots during the summer, right ? With all the activities, meal times for us may not always be as regular and as healthy as I’d like. To balance that out, I make sure I stock lots of fruits at home. Luckily my kids are not picky eaters and love the summer fruits…blueberries, cherries, watermelon, peaches, etc.  And of course I use them to make desserts, like this blueberry galette. It’s basically a rustic blueberry pie and you don’t need to worry about making the crust neat and tidy. It makes a perfect summer dessert with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream !

Makes one galette

For the crust 

  • 90 g unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and chilled)
  • 100 mL ice-cold water
  • 200 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  • 15 g granulated sugar
  • 2.5 g salt

For the filling 

  • 200 g fresh blueberries 
  • 30 g granulated sugar 
  • 7.5 mL lemon juice 
  • Zest of 1/2 small lemon 
  • 7.5 g cornstarch 
  • 10 g graham cracker crumbs 
  1. To make the crust, combine flour,sugar and salt
  2. Rub in chilled butter with hands until resemble coarse crumbs, there should be pea-sized lumps of butter
  3. Add cold water and mix until dough just starting to form
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and press dough together (Do not knead)
  5. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight (I actually doubled the amount of ingredients and kept half of the dough in the freezer for later) 
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F 
  7. Gently mix blueberries with sugar,lemon juice, lemon zest and cornstarch 
  8. Let sit for about 10 minutes 
  9. Roll dough out to about 0.5 cm in thickness 
  10. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs in the middle leaving about 5 cm from the edge, the crumbs help to prevent a soggy crust 
  11. Spoon filling on top  
  12. Fold and pleat edges over part of the filling
  13. Brush edges with water and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or granulated sugar 
  14. Bake for about 60 minutes until golden and filling is bubbling (you can cover it with aluminium foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes to prevent crust from getting too brown)
  15. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream 

Strawberry Hand Pies

I am a home baker, so besides the couple of pastry classes that I have attended, I have never really had any formal training. When I just started baking as a teenager, pie is something that I felt very tricky and difficult to make and I would never be able to do it. To me, making pie was not “as easy as pie” ! But, as I became more experienced, I realized it is actually not that hard. I had a few failures, but it wasn’t a “mission impossible”.  So, gathering my failures and tips from my classes, I have learned a few things: 

  1. Making hand pies or mini pies to start if you haven’t made pies before. The dough is the same, but it’s easier to roll and to control the baking time. And I think it’s more fun ! 
  2. Use very cold butter. I put the cut butter and in the freezer for about 15 minutes before using.
  3. There should be small lumps of cold butter in the dough. So rubbing in the butter by hands would be better than pulsing with a food processor as you will have larger lumps. In the oven, the butter melts creating pockets, the moisture in the butter evaporates, expanding those pockets, hence flaky crust. 
  4. Do not knead the dough, just press it together. The lumps of butter that you want for flakiness will melt if you handle the dough too much.
  5. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight before baking.  This allows the butter to firm up and the gluten to relax, which makes rolling easier. 

I hope these tips will help if making pies is on your list ! Once you manage the crust, there are so many possibilities….all the berries, apples, peaches, pears….Mmmmmm, yummy ! 

Makes about 8-10 hand pies

For the pie dough

  • 180 g unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and chilled)
  • 200 mL ice-cold water
  • 400 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 5 g salt

You will also need 1 egg for brushing top of pies and more sugar for sprinkling 

  1. Combine flour,sugar and salt
  2. Rub in chilled butter with hands until resemble coarse crumbs, there should be pea-sized lumps of butter
  3. Add cold water and mix until dough just starting to form
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and press dough together (Do not knead)
  5. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight

For the strawberry filling

  • 500 g fresh strawberries (wash, hull and cut into halves or quarters)
  • 60 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g cornstarch
  1. Coat strawberries with sugar and cornstarch
  2. Cook over medium heat until soft and jam-like
  3. Cool to room temperature 

To assemble the pie

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to about 0.5 cm thickness (If the dough is too hard, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes)
  3. Cut into 8 cm x 8 cm squares (dough scraps can be reused, but try to press them back together instead of kneading, and reuse as little times as possible)
  4. Place bottom squares on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of strawberry filling in the middle
  6. Brush egg wash around edges of top squares, and place over bottom squares (egg wash sides down)
  7. Press edges to seal then press down with fork
  8. Cut a small opening on top of pies to let air out during baking
  9. Brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes, then cover top with a foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes
  11. Serve warm

 

 

Coconut Cream Tarts

Coconut is such a versatile fruit.  You can pretty much make use of every parts of the fruit, even the husk can be used to make flowering pots or carpets !  Coconut milk and oil are extracted from its meat and are widely used in many cuisines.  I love coconut milk. It matches really well with many ingredients, sweet or savoury. This was originally a pastry cream recipe. I substituted some of the milk with coconut milk. The shredded coconut gave the tarts extra texture and the lime zest just brighten everything up.  Don’t throw away the leftover tart shell trimmings. They make great butter cookies. Just gather the trimmings to form a dough, roll it out to 1/8 inch in thickness, cut with cookie cutters and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350°F !  It’s nice when no food is wasted ! 

Makes about three 4 inch tarts 

For the tart shells

  • 120 g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 180 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk, mix until blended
  3. Add flour all at once, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently knead dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  6. Knead dough until pliable
  7. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  8. Place inside slightly greased tart molds, trim off excess dough 
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes till golden, let coolBaked Tart Shells

For the coconut cream

  • 400 mL canned coconut milk 
  • 100 mL milk 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75 g granulated sugar 
  • 40 g cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • Zest of 1/2 lime 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  1. Mix coconut milk and milk together until smooth 
  2. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk mixture together until no more lumps
  3. Heat remaining milk in a pot over medium heat until just boiled
  4. Whisk 1/2 of boiled milk slowly into egg mixture to temper, then pour everything back into the pot
  5. Heat until just starting to bubble and thicken, whisking constantly
  6. Remove from heat, mix in shredded coconut, lime zest and vanilla extract, let cool
  7. Spoon coconut cream into baked tart shell, spread evenly with a spatula, dust with icing sugar 
  8. You can keep them in the fridge for 2-3 daysCoconut Cream Tarts

Chocolate Pistachio Tart

As a mom, my kids are always my priorities. But sometimes I feel it’s necessary to do something for myself….in order to keep my sanity ! So I made this dessert just for me ! It’s loaded with chocolate with a bit of crunch and saltiness from the pistachios. Did you know that pistachios are called the “happy nuts” in Chinese? Their partially opened shells look like a smile. They are an excellent source of vitamin B, fibre, potassium, magnesium and many more. No wonder I felt fantastic after eating them! 

Makes about three to four 4-inch tarts

For the chocolate tart

  • 120 g unsalted butter (cold)
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 170 g cake and pastry flour (sifted)
  • 10 g unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)

For the filling

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 4 ounces whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 30 g salted pistachios (shells removed)
  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk, mix until blended
  3. Add flour and cocoa powder, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently press dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  6. Knead dough until pliable
  7. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  8. Place inside slightly greased tart molds, trim off excess dough (dough scraps can be re-roll, but only do it once or twice or it may crack)
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes till golden, let cool
  10. For the filling, crush pistachios into small pieces
  11. Heat whipping cream in a non-stick pot over medium heat until starting to bubble
  12. Pour cream over chopped chocolate, let stand for 1 minute
  13. Add vanilla extract, stir until smooth
  14. Mix in half of the crushed pistachios
  15. Pour into baked tart shells, sprinkle remaining pistachios on top 
  16. Let cool then put in refrigerator until set

Chocolate Pistachio Tart

 

Original chocolate tart shell recipe by Chef Marco Ropke at the Vancouver Pastry Training Centre