Cherry Tassies

 I’ll admit I’ve been a little slow with the Christmas baking this year.  But last week a title on a blog caught my eye:  “One Dough, Many Cookies.”  It was from the beautiful Sprinkle Bakes, by Heather Baird.  Heather was baking a Viennese shortdough called “Murbteig”.  That name sounded familiar to me, and as I read on I realized that I owned the book from which the recipe originated.  So, after a quick search in my usual cookbook storage places I found “The New Pastry Cook” by Helen Fletcher.  And I set about to re-discover this versatile and delicious dough.  Murbteig is a buttery dough that is quickly prepared in the food processor and can be made in both vanilla and chocolate variations (more about chocolate later).  I decided to try one of Heather’s creations:  little cookie cups filled with white chocolate ganache and topped with a maraschino cherry.  So here is the first of a few treats that will look very pretty on a holiday cookie tray.

Cherry Tassies (Cherries in the Snow)
(makes 24 mini tarts)
Murbteig Pastry:
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (10 ounces or 285 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, refrigerated
3 egg yolks
White Chocolate Ganache (below)
Stem-on maraschino cherries, drained
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the sugar and lemon zest until the zest is incorporated and the sugar is a yellow color.  Add the flour and salt and process briefly to mix.  Cut each stick of butter into 4 pieces.  Arrange the butter in a circle in the bowl and process for about 20 seconds until the butter is so finely cut in it is indistinguishable in the mixture, but the whole remains light and powdery.  Add the yolks in a circle on top  of the mixture and process for 20 to 30 seconds until a ball forms.  Process 10 seconds longer.  Remove from the machine and preheat the oven to 350F.  Pinch off small balls of the dough and press evenly into a mini-muffin or tart tin (non-stick is best).  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.   Reduce the oven temperature to 325F and place the muffin tin in the oven.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until set and golden brown.  Remove to a rack to cool completely (this is important; the pastry cups will break if you try to remove them from the pan while still warm).  Carefully free the pastry from the pan and fill each with the ganache (this is most easily done by piping the ganache into each pastry cup).  Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and top each little pastry with a cherry.
(murbteig pastry recipe from “The New Pastry Cook” by Helen S. Fletcher)

White Chocolate Ganache
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I used Valrhona Ivoire)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add the butter and chopped chocolate and stir gently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a shallow bowl and chill until the ganache has the consistency of pudding.
(from Heather Baird’s Sprinkle Bakes)

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