Growing up, my mother made tarts very similar to these for all of our holiday meals. One of us was always assigned to squeeze the frozen spinach - not a job for the weak. Then the greens were mixed with cream cheese and seasonings, portioned into special-occasion mini tart shells that my mom bought from a local farm and topped with cheddar. We loved that we each got our own - now I realize how much smarter the serving method was for the chef. That's why, when I recreated these by making my own dough, using fresh spinach and adding chopped garlic, I still made them as individuals. —lifeaswecookit
Test Kitchen Notes
notlazy.rustic.'s overall concept is simple yet effective, the filling is quite rich and yummy, but it's the "rustic" look of the handmade tart shell that sets this recipe apart. You just know it's a personal creation. A slight hiccup: the 1/4" dough thickness seems too fat; after 26 minutes the tart shell was cooked on the outside but translucent and still doughy (not cooked), especially in those endearing corners of the pastry. I actually rolled two of the dough pieces thinner, made freeform galette-like tarts and these cooked as the recipe suggested. Also, the recipe calls for fresh spinach, so include a wash and spin-dry for the produce. A lovely plated first course appetizer, or for lunch or brunch with a salad (pretty darn rich as a side dish with an entrée for dinner, personal opinion!) - Amber Olson —The Editors
8 mini tarts
1 1/2 cups
ice cold water
Spinach and Cream Cheese Filling
1 1/2 teaspoons
cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped and divided
Cube butter; place it back in the fridge. In food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add cold butter; pulse 10 times or until butter is in pebble size pieces. With motor running, drizzle in 2 tablespoons ice cold water. Continue adding cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough comes together to form a cohesive piece. Remove from food processor, form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes.
In large deep skillet over medium-low heat, heat olive oil. Add half chopped garlic and cook 3 minutes, or until tender and golden brown. Increase heat to medium. Add spinach in batches, stirring to help the leaves begin to wilt, before adding the next bunch. Cover; cook 4 minutes, or until just wilted, stirring once.
Transfer mixture to strainer to drain, pressing with a wooden spoon. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out all excess liquid. This is absolutely the step you will have the urge to skip or cut short, but fight it (I always have to). If there is any excess liquid, the finished tart will be soggy.
In bowl, combine drained spinach, raw garlic, softened cream cheese, pecorino romano, chopped chives, salt and pepper; mix with a wooden spoon until combined. The entire mixture should be streaked white, without large clumps of cream cheese. Taste; adjust for seasoning, if desired.
Remove dough from fridge. On lightly floured surface, press dough to flatten. Using lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into 1/4" thickness. Cut into 8 4-inch circles (I used an upside down glass bowl), re-rolling scraps, if necessary. Transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking pan.
Divide spinach mixture evenly among the center of the dough rounds (about 3 tablespoons per tart). Using fingers, pinch dough around spinach to form a square, pinching tightly. In bowl, whisk together egg white and water. Using pastry brush, brush exposed dough with egg white mixture. Divide cheddar evenly among tarts.
Place pan in the fridge; heat oven to 350?F. When the oven comes to temperature, place the pan in the oven. Bake 22-26 minutes, or until the dough is firm and starting to color and the filling is bubbling. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.