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Once upon a time, I did not like pie. When I think back to all those pie-less years of my youth, I die a little on the inside because what I was really missing out on was crust. I freakin’ LOVE crust.

Naturally, last weekend when we made an apple crumb pie, I made a whole crust recipe (Joy of Cooking – basic shortening crust) knowing full well that I would use the other crust if I had it. By last night, it was practically calling to us from the fridge – please! bake me! put me to good use! OK FINE. If I have to. Lacking the necessary ingredients for any real pie, we ended up making tiny, baby pies with jam – because everyone knows that things taste better in miniature form. Really, they were more crust than filling – and that’s the way I like it. All you need is a crust, already chilled, and some of your favorite jam or jelly.

Jam Tartlets

1 basic pie crust – I used the Joy of Cooking basic shortening crust recipe, but prefer the all-butter recipe. I suppose you could use Pillsbury in a pinch….You could definitely do this with a sweeter crust – like a shortbread-y tart crust.

Jam of choice – we used homemade spiced apple jelly, wild blueberry jam, and then an experimental cream cheese/jalapeno jelly combo because that’s what we had on hand. All of them were pretty sweet – I think I would go with something tarter next time – like raspberry jam or orange marmalade, or even lemon curd.

On a floured surface, roll out the pie dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. With a circular cookie cutter, or something else (we traced a knife around a 1/4 cup measure), cut out as many small pie circles as you can. They should be slightly bigger than the muffin tin cups you are using.

Butter or spray your muffin tin – even if it’s nonstick. Place each dough circle into the bottom of a muffin tin cup – pressing down on the bottom and shaping the sides so that it forms a little dough crater.

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Place a small dollop of jam in each crater – maybe 1 tsp. or so.

img_1432Throw this baby in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Take them out when the crust is a light golden brown and the jam is bubbly or at least melted.

img_1435 After testing out all of them – the spiced apple being my personal favorite – we decided the blueberry was way too sweet. We balanced it out by adding a few drops of lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon to each one, which made them more authentically pie-like and tamed the overbearing sweetness. All in all, a successful experiment – but next time, I’m going to go with shortbread crust and maybe a raspberry or strawberry-rhubarb jam.

If you’re unfamiliar with homemade pie dough, check out Deb’s Pie Crust 101 tutorial OR Pie Crust 102 tutorial @ Smitten Kitchen. It’s not that hard – but it does require some practice and a few failed doughs. My words of wisdom on crust: make sure everything – butter, water, vodka if using – is cold, cold, COLD and only mix it to the point where it just comes together. Deb’s words of wisdom are funnier, and have more pictures, so you check them out.

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