Usually we’re reviewing recipes here at Full Fork so that we can report back on how it all went down for us. Occasionally, though, we like to do something with a little more “wing it” style and that’s what’s going down today. One of my friends at work told me how her husband celebrated National Pastry Day recently by thawing some puff pastry and throwing together little pizza-style tarts. I liked the idea so much that I went home that night and made them for myself. And now – we’ll show you how to do them!
Cuz, yep, it’s Puff Pastry Time. Are you thrilled? You so, so are, I just know it.
This is basically one of those Clean Your Pantry/Fridge Out type of recipes. Use whatever you have in your home: jarred marinara or pizza sauce or tomato sauce; any kind of shredded cheeses or even sliced cheese usually reserved for sandwiches; pepperoni (of COURSE), cooked chicken, cooked bacon, mushrooms, red onions, olives – any of the usual or even unusual suspects. Point is, do whatever kind of pizza you want!
After your puff pastry has thawed (psst – put it in the fridge overnight to thaw in advance!), cut into three even rows (if using Pepperidge Farms, it unfolds into three pretty even rows, use that as a guide), then cut each of those three pieces into three even squares. You should have 9 puff pastry squares. If they’re not exactly even, it’s just fine.
Press each puff pastry square into the muffin wells of a regular size muffin pan or use a pan like we’ve got from Pampered Chef, a square brownie pan. If your pan is nonstick, there’s no need to spray each well with a nonstick spray. Puff pastry also has a lot of butter in it, so it tends to remove very easily with a little help from a butter knife run around the top edges. If your pan is not nonstick, you might want to do a light coating of that spray.
We built these as you would most pizza, from the sauce and cheese up! You can use shredded cheeses, whatever kind you prefer, or you can tear small pieces of sliced sandwich cheese to use as well. I had some sliced Havarti cheese on hand, so we went with that in some of the tarts.
When choosing toppings, again, just do whatever sounds good to you. We did some with just cheese and pepperoni, some with just cheese and mushrooms, a mixture of both and so forth. Hint – bacon bits taste SO good on these!
Our Infrequent Miniature Cooking Assistant really wanted to try some out too, so she made some fruit pizzas! The sauce was peanut butter (stirred a bit till softer and more spreadable) and she piled on slices of fresh strawberries and banana, topped with some chopped chocolate. They weren’t too bad! Kind of nice, really, after the savory zing of the regular pizza tarts. The point is, just have fun and experiment.
When the mini pizza tarts are just out of the oven and still piping hot, if you’d like, drop some fresh thyme or minced basil or any of the more delicate herbs and let the heat off the tarts wilt them a little. This, folks, was the OMG flavor booster on our mini tarts. Thyme is my personal fave, and I usually have it on hand, but basil, tarragon, parsley – all would work. Mince ‘em up, toss ‘em on.
These make a great, easy-to-make appetizer, snack or light dinner. Light as in, well, you know, when you don’t want a lot to eat. Still, their flavor impacts in a big way and the puff pastry is a great alternative crust to have on hand. Let your kids have fun and choose some of their own toppings and just have fun with it. Make ‘em for the upcoming Super Bowl parties, baby showers or for you after a hard day at work. Most of all – enjoy!
Mini Pizza Tarts
by Full Fork Ahead via Very Good Friends
- 1 box frozen puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm, thawed
- Pizza sauce or your favorite marinara or a white sauce such as alfredo
- Shredded or sliced cheeses such as mozzarella, sharp white cheddar, havarti, gouda, etc.
- Your favorite pizza toppings such as pepperoni, olives, red onions, mushrooms, etc.
- Fresh herbs such as thyme, basil, tarragon, etc., optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Once your puff pastry is thawed, lightly flour a cutting board, unfold each pastry and cut each piece into 9 equal square pieces first by cutting three even rows, then cutting each row into three equal squares. In a regular-sized nonstick muffin pan (or a square brownie pan such as the one shown above), press each pastry square into a muffin well, folding down any corners that stick up. Dollop about a teaspoon (or more, to taste) of sauce into each pastry-lined well. Drop in about a teaspoon of shredded cheese or tear three to four small pieces of sliced cheese and drop onto the sauce. Proceed with your favorite pizza toppings – the more toppings you use, the less the pastry will try to bubble up as it bakes. Finish by adding just a little bit more cheese on top of each pizza tart.
Bake in middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. If using fresh herbs, immediately sprinkle on each tart as soon as you remove the pan from the oven. Let cool slightly, about 3-5 minutes and remove from pan, using a butter knife around the top edges if necessary. Serve warm.
You could probably assemble these ahead of time and bake them when needed. Just assemble to the point of baking, cover and refrigerate till ready to bake and serve. If doing so overnight, just make sure the pan is well covered as puff pastry can dry out if not covered well in the fridge.
I haven’t tried these in a regular muffin pan yet, but I assume using that kind of pan would get you more of a deep-dish style pizza tart. The brownie pan was just about perfect for getting a more moderate depth for toppings.
I used the Pepperidge Farm advice for baking the pastry tarts at 400 degrees. If you use a different brand of puff pastry, see what they suggest in their recipes or on their packaging for baking temperature and time.
You can obviously either use both puff pastry sheets that come in the box or cut the recipe in half and use only one, whichever suits your purpose.