Step your baked creations up a notch with homemade mini tart shells! This French pastry dough is so easy to make and can be used in desserts that call for an extra buttery and flaky crust.
Whenever I’m stuck on inspiration I love looking around online for other food bloggers. When I stumbled upon American-in-Paris David Lebovitz’s site, I spent hours looking through his recipes. I was especially intrigued by a pastry dough recipe he claimed: “couldn’t be easier to make, or more interesting, and yielded a wonderfully flaky, buttery dough.”
It turns out David was inspired by his friend Paule Caillat, a woman who teaches cooking classes in Paris at Promenades Gourmandes. I tweaked the recipe he shared ever so slightly, and have since used it in my chocolate salted caramel tarts. You could also adapt it to use in my Meyer lemon tart as well as this chocolate macadamia nut tart. This pate sucrée, as they call it in French, is the perfect base for so many yummy fillings.
THE BEST part is you form it in the pastry shells instead of rolling it out, carefully laying the dough over and gently pressing and forming into the mold! It’s brilliant.
I totally envision making mini tarts for the holidays or even special birthdays. I wanted to share this recipe with you all so that you can do the same!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- All-Purpose Flour – The base of nearly every type of dough or crust is all-purpose flour. You could also make this recipe gluten-free by using almond or coconut flour instead! Just be aware that the taste and texture may be slightly different.
- Butter – All good French pastry dough is packed with butter. Opt for high-quality varieties for the best results.
- Water – You’ll need to add just a bit of water to the dough in order to get the consistency right.
- Vegetable Oil – The same goes for vegetable oil! Use your preference.
- Sugar – This is a pate sucrée recipe after all (sucrée means sugary in French), so you’ll have to add some sugar to the mix.
- Salt – Just a pinch of salt is all you’ll need — it balances out the other ingredients perfectly.
- Mini Tart Shells – A quick note on equipment: you’ll need six non-stick 5-inch mini tart shells to make this recipe. If you don’t have them, head to the FAQ section to learn what to do.
HOW TO MAKE MINI TART SHELLS
- Prep Your Space. Preheat your oven to 410 degrees F and make sure that your individual tart shells are in place. Measure out the flour and keep it in a bowl that you can set aside for now.
- Combine The Ingredients. Using a medium-sized ovenproof bowl (I swear by Pyrex), combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt and mix.
- Heat The Mixture. David’s recipe calls for placing the bowl in a 410 degrees F oven for 15 minutes, or until the butter begins to bubble and the mixture browns on the edges. You can do the same, or simply microwave the bowl on High for 8 minutes.
- Add The Flour. Carefully remove the bowl from the oven or microwave and add the flour while stirring quickly (use a wooden spoon). You want to end up with a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Divide The Dough. Evenly divide the dough into the 6 individual tart shells using a spoon or an ice cream scoop. Allow it to cool slightly, then press the dough into each shell with your fingers. You also want a bit of it to come up on the sides of the tart mold.
- Bake The Dough. Prick holes in the base using a fork so that the shells won’t crack as they bake. Place the mini tart shells filled with your pate sucrée into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Allow to cool and add any filling you like!
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have A Mini Tart Pan?
While I definitely think that mini tart shells are a great investment, especially if you do a lot of baking, I can understand if you don’t have them at home. In a crunch, you can make this recipe in a muffin tin! They will be smaller, but you’ll get the same taste and consistency. It’s something to try for sure!
What Can You Put In Mini Pastry Shells?
If you’re unsure what to use your pate sucrée for, I’ve got plenty of ideas:
- Mini lemon meringue pies
- Mini fruit tarts using berries and pastry cream
- Caramel or butterscotch sauce and whipped cream
- Lemon or orange curd
- Chocolate mousse
You can also make mini pies of any flavor using this French pastry dough! Feel free to get creative.
Should You Pre-Bake Mini Tart Shells?
Definitely! When you pre-bake your pate sucrée, you won’t have to worry about it getting mushy when you add your filling of choice. This step is especially important if you’re working with a no-bake filling.
What is French Pastry Dough?
French Pastry Dough, or French Tart Dough, is made by adding the flour to almost browned, melted butter and water and then formed into a shell or pie mold.
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Mini Tart Shells (French Pastry Dough)
- 6 5-inch round, non-stick tart shell
- 250 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups butter
- 6 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 410°F. Measure out your flour and keep in a bowl, set aside.
- In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.
- The original recipe called for placing the bowl in a 410°F oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges. I used the microwave on high for 8 minutes.
- When done, carefully remove the bowl from oven (or microwave), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly with a wooden spoon until it comes together and forms a ball, which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Divide the dough to 6 individual (5-inch round) tart shells (I use a ice cream scoop).
- Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with your fingers and press it up the sides of the tart mold.
- Prick the dough base all over with a fork. Place the tart shells on a baking tray and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
- Let cool and spread with any filling you like.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
can these be used for pumpkin pies ?
Most definitely Donna.
Looks good, can’t wait to try it!
These are so easy and work like a charm every time!
Do you think this could be used for an 8 or 9 inch tart shell instead of the mini?
Yes, I have done the same Lisa.
Kevin, could I freeze the tart shells & have them ready to use for the holidays?
I love a good pastry! I have to try this!