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LITTLE CUSTARD TARTS (PASTA CIOTTI)
MAKES ONE DOZEN 3" TARTS

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, well beaten

3 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk, for the egg wash

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a
large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the
mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the milk, vanilla, and egg
and use your hands to mix the ingredients into a smooth ball of
dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar,
making sure there are no lumps. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add
the butter, place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring
constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened. Remove from the
heat and stir in the egg yolk and almond extract. Set the custard
aside.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one
piece into an 11-inch circle, about inch thick. Using a 3-inch
fluted biscuit cutter, cut out circles of dough and press each one
into the bottom and up the sides of 3 by 1-inch tart pans. Reroll
the scraps and cut out additional circles. You should have 12 tart
shells.

Place the tart pans on a cookie sheet. Spoon about 2 tablespoons
of filling into each tart shell.

Roll out the second piece of dough and cut out 3-inch circles.
Place a circle over each tart and pinch the edges closed.

With a pastry brush, paint the top of each tart with the egg wash.
Refrigerate the tarts for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Bake the tarts on the middle oven rack
for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove
the tarts to racks and let cool completely.

Carefully remove the tarts from the pans. Store in an airtight
container in the refrigerator.

Note: If you make miniature tarts, bake for only 8 to 10 minutes.
This recipe makes about 2 dozen miniature tarts.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Taste: Ease of Prep: Appearance:
Excellent pastaciotti !, August 30, 2004 - 02:07 PM
Reviewer: Angie from Ormond Beach, Florida
The dough & custard was a little time consuming , but worth the effort. The taste was just as good as the bakery. The only ingredient I changed was the almond extract in the custard. I used pure orange extract. Thats the flavor I remember in the tarts you buy at the Italian bakery. Worth making them !

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