By Angela Denstad Stigeler
On my list of things for which I’m thankful is puff pastry. There’s nothing quite like it for transforming a few simple ingredients into something spectacular. For Thanksgiving, when there are so many dessert options and so many other things happening in the kitchen, it allows you to prepare a veritable cornucopia of tartlets to suit every taste.
Although the list looks long, you won’t need to do much with any particular ingredient, and these few simple items allow you to easily make no less than five different types of tarts: apple, pear, grape, cranberry-pecan cheesecake and pumpkin. Of course, if you prefer to simplify, you can make a batch with just a sheet of pastry, a single kind of fruit, a bit of jelly and an egg.
Highlighting autumn’s harvest this way makes for a buttery, bountiful pastry array. And when you’re ready for your Thanksgiving desserts, you’ll be sure to count these fruit-full tarts among your simple blessings.
Simple Fruit Tarts
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 small apple
1 small pear
1 small bunch red grapes
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup pumpkin puree (optional)
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
1 egg, beaten
½ cup apple jelly
pecans, cranberry sauce, or other desired garnishes
turbinado sugar or powdered sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry onto the prepared baking sheets. Following the folds, cut each in thirds. Cut each sheet in thirds again, perpendicular to the folds, forming 9 squares from each sheet. Spread them apart, leaving at least an inch between squares.
Wash and halve the fruit, removing the seeds (no need to peel). Thinly slice the apple and pear; halve and/or quarter the grapes. Mix the cream cheese with the maple syrup and most of the beaten egg, reserving 1 tablespoon egg for glazing. Mix the pumpkin and spice into the cream cheese mixture, if using. (Alternatively, divide the cream cheese mixture in half and add half the amount of pumpkin and spice to one portion.)
Top the pastry squares with the various fruits, nuts and fillings as desired. Melt the jelly in a small saucepan and brush over the fruits. Brush all the edges of the pastry with the reserved egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if desired. Bake until puffed and golden, 15-18 minutes. Dust with confectioner’s sugar as desired before serving.