I made tarts a lot when I was a child, but they were always of the sweet jammy variety. It’s possibly the first thing I remember making in the kitchen with my mum as a youngster, and one that I always wanted to make again. I’m pretty sure mum did most of the work making the pastry, and my contribution mainly involved spooning the jam into their cases, while getting it all over my fingers, wiped over my corduroy dungarees, smeared over the side of my face while I attempted to push my hair back, in fact everywhere except where it was supposed to go, and then spending a lot of time licking the spoon. I still passed them off to the rest of the family as ‘mine’.
As an adult, a marginally less messy one, I have made lots of savoury tarts and quiches (my mother is a pastry queen and she has taught me well) but for some reason I’d never considered combining the two and making mini savoury tarts until I spotted some on Pinterest. Ah ha! The perfect mouthful of a snack for popping into the allotment basket, along with a flask of something hot, for that half time break.
I couldn’t resist adding a little heart shaped lid to these, my valentines gift to you. Should make around 12-15 tarts, maybe more if you don’t add the lids.
For the pastry weigh out 200g of plain flour, add a pinch of salt and either 100g butter or (as I do) a 50/50 mix of butter and lard. Rub the fat into the flour using your hands or a mixer until it resembles breadcrumbs and then add 1 egg and a splash of water. Combine until you have a nice smooth dough, but don’t overwork it. Shape it into a ball and wrap in cling film, place in the fridge for around 20-30 mins to chill.
For the filling, finely chop 1 large or 2 thinner/smaller leeks, gently sauté these in a little butter in a pan until soft, then remove from the heat and leave to one side. In the meantime place 4 rashers of bacon under a hot grill until cooked, remove and allow to cool before chopping into small pieces.
Once the pastry has chilled, unwrap and roll out to around 5mm or 1/4inch thick. Use a large pastry cutter to cut out circles, and line the craters of a greased cupcake tin. You don’t have to add lids, but if you do cut these and put to one side. Fill the pastry cases with some of the cooked leek, a little bit of bacon and a few crumblings of stilton or other strong cheese.
In a separate bowl, combine 1 large beaten egg with around 150ml of double cream or I used créme fraiche loosened with a splash of milk. Grate in a bit of nutmeg (optional) and season with a little salt and pepper. Pour this carefully into the filled cases until just up to the edges. Place a heart or other shaped lid on top and brush with a little milk or beaten egg.
Bake in a moderately hot oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until just turning golden brown on top.
Of course, you could also make these with a jam or curd filling, just be careful with those sticky fingers!