The Christmas tree came down on New Year’s Eve. I usually wait until almost the end of January—it’s hard for me to let go of that pretty little tree, with its glittering lights and faint evergreen smell, but this year I was ready to forge ahead and pack it up. I always cling to December, the month abuzz with holiday cheer and its very own soundtrack, but this new year is calling loudly to me, beckoning. I’m rushing in, with open arms.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
Inspired by a recipe in What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits & Pieces by Katie Quinn Davies
This will make a bit more filling than needed, but the filling also makes a great dip. You can use sour cream in place of the crème fraîche, and goat cheese in place of the cream cheese. The mozzarella isn’t necessary, but I like the way the cheese browned slightly as it cooked, so I added it to the top. Store-bought puff pastry is fine, but look for one that is made with real butter versus palm or soybean oil. (Homemade puff pastry is a lot of work, but worth the effort!)
1 large yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
a good pinch of salt
1/4 cup crème fraîche (see note)
1 ounce cream cheese
1 sheet of puff pastry (see note)
egg wash (one egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt)
fresh mozzarella cheese (optional, see note), very thinly sliced
sprigs of thyme
To caramelize the onions and make the filling
Slice the onions in half, and then into 1/8-inch half rounds. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and salt and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, until onions are browned and caramelized. Set aside to cool.
Place the cooled onions, crème fraîche, and cream cheese in a food processor and process until smooth.
Preheat your oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To assemble the tartlets
Open the puff pastry sheet and gently roll it into a 10-inch square. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can (I was able to cut out 10). Make about a 1/2-inch border around the edge of each circle, using a knife or small biscuit cutter, being careful not to cut all the way through the puff pastry. Prick the bases all over with a fork, avoiding the border. Using your finger or a very small pastry brush, brush the borders of each circle with the egg wash, making sure the egg does not run down the sides of the pastry (this can cause it to bake unevenly).
Place about 1 tablespoon of the caramelized onion filling in the center of each tartlet, spreading it evenly (but again, avoiding the borders). Place a thin slice of mozzarella cheese on top of the filling, and then top with a small sprig or two of thyme (you can also just scatter the thyme leaves over the top, if you’d rather not have the sprig).
Bake tartlets for 18-20 minutes, until the puff pastry borders have risen and are golden brown, and the bases of each tartlet are cooked.
Drizzle each tartlet with a small amount of olive oil, and serve.
Sarah Kieffer spends much of her time taking photographs and in the kitchen with her two little ones. She loves to use any available free time re-reading books and sipping cold press. She shares her recipes and musings at The Vanilla Bean Blog, a space dedicated to creating a family food history.
BY Sarah Kieffer - January 1, 2015
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.