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Mini Fig & White Chocolate Mascarpone Cream Tarts

Mini Fig & White Chocolate Mascarpone Cream Tarts

Makes 24 mini tarts

For the Tart Crust:
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, plus a few drops more if needed

For the White Chocolate Mascarpone Cream:
3 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup milk
3 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 – 8 tablespoons fig preserves

24 fresh mint leaves1. Make the tart shells*: Place the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and butter in a food processor.  Pulse 5 or 6 times in short bursts to break up the butter.  Then add the shortening, turn on the food processor, and immediately pour in the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times.  At this point the dough should be a mass of smaller lumps and just hold together when pressed together.  If it is too dry, add a couple drops of water and pulse 2 or 3 more times.  Gather the dough into a ball, then flatten the ball into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).**

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Have an ungreased mini-muffin pan (1 1/2-inch cups) ready (you will need 24 muffin cups to accommodate this recipe).  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until it is 1/8-inch thick, working quickly so that the dough warms up as little as possible.  Use a 2.25 or 2.5-inch circular cookie/biscuit cutter*** to cut 24 circles of dough.  Gently press the circles of dough into the muffin cups.  Poke the bottom and sides with a fork.  Bake the shells in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes until the edges of the shells are golden brown.  Remove the shells from the oven and let them cool completely.****

3. Make the white chocolate mascarpone cream: Place the white chocolate in a small mixing bowl.  In a small saucepan, gently bring the milk just to a boil.  Immediately remove the milk from the heat and pour it over the white chocolate.  Let the mixture stand for 30 seconds to melt, then gently whisk it until it is smooth.  Whisk in the mascarpone cheese and vanilla.  Cover the mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

4. Assemble the tarts: Place 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of fig preserves in the bottom of each tart shell.  Fill the rest of the tart shell with white chocolate mascarpone cream.  Garnish each tart with a mint leaf.*****  Refrigerate the finished tarts until ready to serve.

* The mixture of all-purpose flour and cake flour results in a more tender crust.  If you have pastry flour, you can substitute 1 cup of pastry flour in place of the all-purpose flour and cake flour.

** You can also freeze the tart dough for several months if it is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

*** I actually used a Wilton circular fondant cutter to cut my dough.

**** The shells can be made 1 to 2 days ahead of time.

***** Garnish variation: Toasted sliced almonds, toasted pine nuts, and fresh raspberries would also be delicious garnishes.