Tarts are a summer staple because of the seasonal fruits that can be used to top the opened topped pastry. A tartlet is much like a pie, but it is missing any pastry covering on the top. They can be simple fruit cups with a fruit reduction or extravagant cream fillings with sumptuous berry toppings. The key to a perfect tartlet is a tender, flaky crust. It is easy to get hurried and rush the dough making process, but it is important to just take time and chill as much as possible. As most pastry crusts are butter-based, it is important that at the end of every step, you place the mixture into the refrigerator to cool down for a bit. When the butter started to melt together, that’s when crusts are most at risk of becoming flat and dry. Pay special attention to your dough when you are mixing it together by hand or rolling it out. If you feel it start to reach room temperature, place it back in the fridge to cool for a while.
Once you’ve rolled, cut and pinched your dough into the tartlet mold, place the molds back in the cooler to chill once again. Before putting the crust in the oven, make sure you take a fork and make small punctures in the bottom of the dough. This is called docking and it will prevent bubbles from forming. One extra precaution that can be taken is to place a sheet of baking paper over the top and weight the crust down with weights designed specifically for oven use. If you don’t have any actual weights, you can use raw beans as they do not conduct heat and will not actually cook themselves unless they are submersed in water for long periods of time.