Ours is a house of perpetual motion, especially at the holidays, with a welcome stream of visitors coming through the door hopefully unannounced and preferably in parties of three or more. Often, they arrive with little packages tucked up under their arms or with a platter of just baked this or that to share as we pour cups of coffee or tea or wine depending on the time of day. There is an everyday magic that comes with these visitors and whether its known to them or not, their mere presence has transformative powers as it makes this old house feel full and warm and alive. The hum of chatter through the rooms, the clinking of glasses, the sounds of another log being placed on the fire all create such a rich holiday atmosphere.
It’s hard not to take notice of the jubilant feeling here at Cottage Farm this year or want to celebrate it – having Ruairi here with us this year makes everything feel new all over again. And we have been busy decorating the house in its festive attire with candles in the windows, wreaths on the doors and bits of evergreen tucked here and there. New England really is so well suited to the fancy dress of the season.
I can’t help but love this shift in the cadence of the everyday, this break in routine where the days are seemingly endless, melting one into the next. Of course I welcome the chance to set out nibbles on the counter as friends and family circle through – fireside cheese boards, afternoon coffee, long evening meals. And, I love to serve something a little more decadent with an evening glass of wine. Rich and indulgent these little squash tartlets are perfectly festive fair to share alongside a creamy glass of white. They get their elegance from two favorite New England products – the Vermont Creamery Goats Cheese Log and Vermont Creamery Cultured butter. The buttery pastry is delightfully flakey, rolled thin, it gets beautifully brown in the oven. The goats cheese, left in larger chunks inside the tartlets makes for a sharp, nearly citrusy, compliment to the other New England classic in this recipe, earthy butternut squash. Made in mini-muffin tins, each tartlet is about two bites and two tartlets each are perfect 5 o’clock partners with a little holiday cheer.
Mini Butternut Tartlets
makes 36-48 mini tartlets
For the Crust
- 150g Vermont Creamery Cultured butter
- 210g (1 1/4C) flour
- 1 1/2 TBSP sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4TBSP ice water
For the Filling
- 4oz log Vermont Creamery goats cheese
- 2 TBSP Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter
- 1.5 C (360g) mashed squash
- 3 eggs, beaten (+1 egg for brushing dough)
- 6 small shallots, minced finely
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, very finely minced
- 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper
to make the crust – mix flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Begin with very cold, finely dice butter (or finely slice with a cheese slicer, a trick i learned from Linda Lomelino)
gently rub butter with clean hands into the dry mixture until it is combined and resembles the texture of wet sand. Some larger pea sized pieces of butter are ok.
Slowly add the iced water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just comes together to form a ball. Pat into a disc and wrap in wax paper and a clean kitchen towel. place in the refrigerator to chill at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours
Preheat the oven to 350.
While the dough is resting melt butter in a frying pan over medium low heat until it begins to froth and bubble. To it, add shallots, salt, rosemary and thyme. Cook until the shallots are very tender and transparent. Push shallots to the side of the pan and add to the middle the cayenne pepper and nutmeg, toast until fragrant (about 30 seconds) then add apple cider vinegar to the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes more or until the sharpness of the vinegar has gone, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat let cool
To make the filling for the tartlets – combining the mashed squash, beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Whisk together until ingredients are blended then set aside while dough is rolled out.
To make the tartlets, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick or less and cut into little (2×3) squares. Push the squares into the greased cups of mini muffin tins, working the bottoms down and the sides into the cups of the tin. Place about 1/4 tsp of shallot mixture into the bottom of each cup, followed by a hazelnut sized piece of goats cheese to each cup. Top with a TBSP or so of the butternut squash mixture.Top each with a grind of black pepper. Repeat until all cups are filled. Brush the corners of dough with a bit of the egg wash and bake 16-18 minutes or until the dough is cooked. Remove from the oven, cool slightly before removing to cool on a wire rack.
Serve warm or at room temp.
*this post is sponsored in part by Vermont Creamery. All opinions are my own.