Saturday 8 December 2012

Blue Cheese Tartlettes

It has been reported that someone at my house had two of these for breakfast, despite her weight loss plan.

It's true.  

I baked them a second time because I forgot to take a beauty shot before the first batch was consumed, and they smelled so good that I couldn't keep my hands off them.

They made a pretty good breakfast too:  cheesy and salty and buttery and rich.  I ate them with a red bartlett pear and some grapes.  


That's how I'd serve them to guests too, as a nibble or a cheese course, still warm, with fresh fruit and a glass of port.  

(No, I did not have port for breakfast!  ;)

To make blue cheese tartlettes you'll need:

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 4 ounces of crumbled blue cheese
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 3 egg yolks (I freeze the whites in ice cube trays so that I'll have them for future use in another recipe)
  • salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper
  • 12 pre-made plain pastry tart shells

Begin by combining the cream and poultry seasoning in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to about 1/4 cup.  It should be very thick at this point and some of the milk fat will have separated from the solids.

While the cream is reducing, make a cheese sauce.

Melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux.

Cook the roux over medium low heat for about 5 minutes.  The raw flavour should be cooked out of the flour but the roux shouldn't take on any colour.

Gradually whisk the milk into the roux and continue to cook it, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.

Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the blue cheese.  

(I know:  The mixture has the colour and texture of wet cement.  The good news is that the colour will change as the tartlettes cook.)

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are smooth.  Add a very small amount of the cheese sauce to the egg yolks and stir it well.  Continue adding the cheese sauce in small increments until it's all been incorporated into the egg.

Mix in the reduced cream and herb mixture.

Place 12 tart shells on a baking sheet and portion the filling into them.

Bake the tartlettes in a 375F oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

While  they're baking, the tartlettes will souffle and the outer surface of the filling will be covered with tiny bubbles, like this:

It looks weird but it's just excess moisture working its way out of the filling.  The bubbles will disappear quickly after the tarts are removed from the oven.

Blue cheese tartlettes are at their best when served straight from the oven.  If you plan to make them ahead of time, you'll need to reheat them in the oven (not the microwave!) before serving them.

These are not the prettiest girls at the dance (some might say they're downright homely) so dress them up nicely when presenting them.  The great flavour is worth the extra effort.

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