Mini tartlets are served with all types of fillings, ranging from quiche mixtures for appetizers to fruit curd or mousses for desserts. While fillings are important, one of the keys to a good tartlet is the crust. Pre-baking, or blind-baking, the pastry means to bake the pastry before filling it and then putting it back in the oven to finish. It helps ensure the filling in the bite-sized treats doesn’t bake longer than it should and that the crust isn’t mushy.
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How to Pre-Bake Mini Tartlet Shells
Refrigerate pastry dough for at least 1 hour, although it can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to one week. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove pastry dough from refrigerator and place on waxed or baking paper. Roll crust for tart pans to about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness and cut to a size that is slightly larger than the bottom of the pan. Roll dough for muffin tins into 24 balls.
Place pastry dough on the bottom of the tart pans and press slightly to remove creases or fix slight tears. Trim excess with sharp knife. Place pastry balls into tins and gently mash until they are visible just above the top of the tins, if using the mini-muffin pans. Smooth any cracks in the shells.
Prick the bottoms of the shells with the fork to guarantee that the crust does not bubble during pre-baking.
Place tart or muffin pans on baking sheet. Put sheet in preheated oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool completely.
Mini tartlet shells can be placed in an air-tight container and kept up to 2 days before filling.
Frozen mini-tartlet shells can be purchased at most baking goods and grocery stores. The same pre-baking process is advisable to keep from overcooking the filling and making the crust soggy.
Blind-baked pastry also can be lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper and then covered with dried beans or pie weights to prevent bubbles in the shell. Remove the beans and lining several minutes before fully removing the pastry from the oven so the crust will brown evenly.