Mini tarts are to pies as cupcakes are to cakes. They are miniature individual portions of their larger kin, and more easily portable. So portable that, why, you can even carry a wrapped one in your shirt pocket, not that you would want to, but you could. These caramel tarts are made even more convenient by their boat-like shape, in that each could be consumed in two to three bites.
I used the Basic Pie Crust recipe for the pastry shell and a super simple easy recipe-to-make the caramel filling. Just mix all four ingredients; the condensed milk, cheddar cheese, egg yolks and vanilla, and set aside.
Roll the pastry dough as you would pie dough, then cut it into smaller shapes to fit over mini tart molds. Once you press the dough into the tart mold you can cleanly remove the excess by rolling your rolling pin right over the surface.
Remove the excess pastry dough. This can be re-rolled later with other scraps of dough.
Spoon the caramel filling into the tart molds and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Remove half-baked tarts from oven and set aside to cool. Meantime, make the meringue topping.
Whip 3 egg whites that have been brought to room temperature with ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Make sure your bowl and wire whip are completely devoid of any kind of fat or oil residue, or the egg whites won’t whip to full volume.
Gradually add ½ cup sugar and whip until stiff peaks, which is when the egg whites are glossy, and can hold a stiff, upright peak without drooping.
Transfer the meringue into a piping bag with a small star tip. Pipe the meringue on each tart in swirls, squiggly lines, or any kind of design. Return the tarts to the oven and bake again at a low temperature of 250 F for 40 minutes or until meringue is stiff and baked.
I had more meringue than I needed to garnish the tarts, so I just swirled the extra with a large star tip onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and baked it together with the tarts. So I had two cookie sheets in the oven, one with the tarts and the other with the meringue swirls.
Once baked, remove from the oven and place on cooling racks.
I actually made these tarts last September, but yet again I just couldn’t get around to posting them right away, what with, first and foremost, the family, rushing to work, then rushing from work to ballet class at night, then rushing from ballet back home, weekend errands, weekend baking, etc., etc. Sigh! I need more time, but don’t we all?
Then I made this batch two weeks later.
3 egg yolks
1 can condensed milk
½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
- Pour the filling into the pastry shells
- Bake at 350 F degrees for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven when done and set aside.
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar
- Egg whites should be at room temperature so they can reach their maximum volume when whipped.
- Add the cream of tartar and salt to the egg whites.
- Start at low to medium speed then gradually increase to high speed.
- Start adding the sugar gradually and continue whipping until stiff peaks.
- Transfer meringue into a piping bag with a star tip (or whatever preferred tip you choose) and pipe designs on top of each tart
- Return the tarts to the oven and bake at low temperature of 250 F for 40 minutes or until meringue is stiff and baked.
- Extra meringue can be baked together with the tarts in a separate cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Pipe the meringue in any kind of swirl design.
- Remove from oven and place on cooling racks.
- Store at room temperature in an airtight container, or keep it under a cake dome.
Caramel tarts and baked meringue.