Mini Apricota Crostata (Crostatini)
Even though I’ve cooked most of my life and have made many different dishes for varied meals and occasions, putting food together for a party for a friend to mark a special event in his or her life is still a special treat. I always want everything to turn out perfect, even more perfectly than when I make things for work. Today was one of those days. Because the friend for whom this party was happening is someone I know from my time living in Italy, these Mini Apricot Crostate (Crostatini in Italian) seemed like the perfect thing to bring to it.
They are a modified version of this larger Apricot Crostata with Almonds merged with this Mixed Berry Crostata. The dough comes from the latter recipe, as does the technique for building the lattice top. The apricot jam filling is taken from the former recipe. Because these are really just tiny bites, I didn’t sprinkle the slivered almonds on top of them. Instead, I ground up the almonds in the food processor and incorporated them into the dough to give it that lift.
To get the shape of these crostatini, I borrowed a few techniques from working the Pastry Station during my culinary school days. This dough, in particular, is more sugar and butter-based, which makes it fragile and even a bit temperamental to work with, especially with it being as humid as it has been these past few days. One way around this is to roll the dough out between layers of parchment paper to about 2-3 cm in width, and then place it in the freezer for a few minutes (around 5-10). Once it is chilled, it is easier to punch out circles for the base of the tart and then, working quickly, to place those circles into the baking pan.
This mini tart pan is by Nordic Ware. I had it for many years before I figured how to make it work for making bite-sized desserts, which I need to do for catering gigs. By taking the step of rolling out the dough and cutting the circles while the dough is chilled, you’ll have more consistently-sized crostatini. For this project, I used a 2-inch round cutter.
The uncooked bases are filled with the Apricot Jam. It just takes about a tablespoon of it to fill the whole crostatino. One trick is that the jam should not be too liquidy, which will just soak the base and make it more difficult for the base to cook through.
Working with the dough to make the lattice top is also a bit tricky and labor-intensive. It is helpful if the dough is bit chilled and if there’s minimal humidity in the air. The lattice pieces are rolled out into long, thin strips and then layered on top of the jam to make the top to the crostatini.
If the lattice breaks, you can try to stick the pieces back together or just leave them for a more rustic look. This step is a bit fiddly, but as you can see from the first photo, the results are quite pretty and really do honor the spirit of a full-sized crostata.
This level of detail was also admired by the my friend and the other guests at the party. When plated up, they really did mimic the look and feel (and taste) of the larger-sized version. This was an experiment to see if I actually could replicate this Italian snack-time treat. I’m very happy with the results and looking forward to another opportunity to make these.