Mini Strawberry Tarts in Pretzel Crust

Makes 6 mini tarts

Crust

2 ½ C mini pretzels, finely crushed (yield 1 ¼ cups)

¼ C light brown sugar, packed

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Filling

4oz. cream cheese, softened

2 T light brown sugar, packed

1 t vanilla extract

Topping

1 ½ C strawberries, hulled and quartered, divided

½ C light brown sugar, packed

4 t cornstarch

¼ C water

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat 6 wells of a large muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Prepare the crust: process the pretzels in a food processor until very finely crushed, add the sugar and pulse to mix, then add the melted butter and pulse until well mixed and resembling wet sand. Divide the mixture among the prepared wells and press very firmly into the bottom and up the sides of each well. (Make sure the crust is well packed on all sides as this will keep the shells from breaking once baked). Bake the crusts until the cups are set and browned, 10-12 minutes. Set aside to cool in the muffin pan.

Prepare the Filling: cream together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla, mixing well with a rubber spatula. Set aside (but do not refrigerate yet).

Prepare the Topping: put ¾ cup of strawberries in a bowl and mash them with a fork (or crush with a potato masher), enough to yield ½ cup. In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar and cornstarch then add the water and crushed strawberries. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until it thickens, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining ¾ cup sliced strawberries. If the remaining strawberries are large, cut them into smaller pieces.

Assemble the tarts: carefully wedge the tip of a paring knife between the top of each crust and the inside of the well, gently sliding each crust out of the well of the muffin pan; transfer to a platter. Spoon and spread some of the cream cheese filling in the bottom, then carefully spoon the strawberry topping on top. Refrigerate uncovered until thoroughly chilled and set, at least 3 hours. Garnish with mint if desired.


Rhubarb Tart with Orange Glaze

1 C fresh orange juice
1 T fresh lime juice
2/3 C sugar
3-4 large rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced diagonally
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17 1/4-ounces package), thawed
grated orange zest
crystalized ginger, julienned

Preheat oven to 400̊F with rack in middle. Stir together orange juice, lime juice, and sugar in a bowl. Add rhubarb and let stand, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut pastry in half lengthwise; arrange pastry rectangles side by side on an ungreased large baking sheet. Make a ½-inch border around each pastry rectangle by lightly scoring a line parallel to each edge (do not cut all the way through). Prick pastry inside border all over with a fork. Strain rhubarb mixture, reserving liquid. Top 1 pastry rectangle (within border) with half of rhubarb, overlapping slices slightly. Repeat with remaining pastry and rhubarb. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden (underside of pastry should also be golden), about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil reserved rhubarb liquid in a small saucepan, skimming foam if necessary, until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer tarts to a rack. Brush rhubarb and pastry with glaze and sprinkle with zest and ginger.

Eight servings.