Basil & Fontina Custard Tart

Over the summer I bought these darling little tart tins, but you know how it goes, a cupboard full of kitchen nick nacks they soon got pushed to the side and disappeared amongst jars, bottles and tupperware. It wasn't till recently when reading a post by Cynthia from Tastes Like Home that it dawned on me that I hadn't even once used mine. After seeing her beautiful tarts, I quickly rescued my tins and took out a recipe from one of my favorite cookbook collections, "Recipes From A French Herb Garden".

These tarts are a rendition of the recipe Tarte Aux Herbes. Although I added Fontina cheese and lessoned the amount of herbs, all of the other ingredients pretty much stayed true to the recipe.. except for my dough, I used the leftover basil laced pastry dough from my Terrine and it was perfectly perfumed for these Herb Tarts! My family loved these herb and cheesy custard tarts and they were quite satisfying for a Sunday brunch.

Basil Laced Pastry Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 basil leaves clean and dried julienned
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2-teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons ice water
5 tablespoons cream or half and half

Add julienned basil to flour. Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Stir together cold water and cream.
Drizzle 5 to 6 Tbsp ice cold liquids evenly over mixture. Gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn't hold together, add more liquid, 1/2 Tbsp at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough. Turn out onto a work surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one. Press into a ball, then flatten into 2 (5-inch) disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, as least 1 hour.

Tart Filling Ingredients
2 Tablespoons shallots (sauteed)
4 eggs
2/3 cup half and half
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 cup fresh chopped Basil and Thyme
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Filling Directions
Beat the eggs, add the half and half and continue to beat. Add sauteed shallots. Mix well. Add shredded cheese, continue to mix and add herbs. Stir till well blended. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Making The Tarts
Press 2 teaspoonfuls of pastry dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of each prepared mini tart tin. Pierce tartlet dough's all over with fork. This can be done ahead 1 day. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake until crusts are cooked but not colored around 10 minutes. Dough will puff up a bit but will go back into place when filled. Turn down oven to 375°F, fill with basil, Fontina custard and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes till custard is baked through and golden on top.

Transfer to rack and cool 10 minutes. Carefully loosen from tins and pop out. Transfer to serving platter and enjoy!

These are great to make ahead. On the morning of Thanksgiving heat them up in the oven so your family has something to munch on while your preparing dinner. I often forget to feed my family during the morning hours because I am so busy in the kitchen. They'll love you for these!

Ciao and Hugs!


Anonymous said...

They ARE beautiful!
Happy Thanksgiving, Laurie!
(I have a cabinet just like that!)

RecipeGirl said...

These are so cute and tasty looking too. I would have been suckered into buying darling little tart tins too lol!

The Blonde Duck said...

I'd love to munch on those any day, Thanksgiving or not! Have a wonderful holiday!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love your little tart pans Laurie, so elegant looking. I would love to munch on these Thanksgiving morning! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

Those look AMAZING! On my long list of things to make!

Thanks for the recipe!

laGallinainCucina said...

Laurie have a nice Thanksgiving!
Your tart are beautiful.

Celine said...

They look so cute and yummy. I love the colors too. Beautiful picture.
So Parisian chic aperitif!
A bientot Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Lori Lynn said...

They look wonderful. And such a pretty photo, I like the light and the lace tablecloth. Guess what? I have that same cakestand!

Hope you and your family had a happy Thanksgiving Laurie.

Anonymous said...

Hi Laurie, hope you are WELL! This receipe is so gorgeous. I will for sure copy you! Sorry for this but I can't resist!
A huge kiss, CookingMama (from Italy)

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Those look like such attractive finger food! Basil and fontina sounds like a wonderful flavor. I'll keep these in mind for the next time I'm entertaining

glamah16 said...

You are inspiring me to use my tart tins more. Scrumptious! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Laurie said...

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'm just now getting back into the swing of things.. like blogging.. :) it took a back seat for a week or so but I sure was encouraged by your notes! Thank you and Happy Holidays.. it's beginning to look like a California Christmas here finally!! hugs to you all!

Vera said...

These look amazing, Laurie! And I can easily imagine how great they tasted!

Jen said...

I've never made tarts, but these look too good to resist. Dainty & pretty!

Maris said...

These sound like the perfect holiday-esque appetizer. I love fontina cheese!