How to prebake mini tartlet shells

strawberry jam tarts image by Martin Garnham from

Mini tartlets are served with all types of fillings, ranging from quiche mixtures for appetizers to fruit curd or mousses for desserts. While fillings are important, one of the keys to a good tartlet is the crust.

Pre-baking, or blind-baking, the pastry means to bake the pastry before filling it and then putting it back in the oven to finish. It helps ensure the filling in the bite-sized treats doesn't bake longer than it should and that the crust isn't mushy.

Refrigerate pastry dough for at least 1 hour, although it can be tightly wrapped in cling film for up to one week. Preheat oven to 191 degrees Celsius.

Remove pastry dough from refrigerator and place on waxed or baking paper. Roll crust for tart pans to about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness and cut to a size that is slightly larger than the bottom of the pan. Roll dough for muffin tins into 24 balls.

Place pastry dough on the bottom of the tart pans and press slightly to remove creases or fix slight tears. Trim excess with sharp knife. Place pastry balls into tins and gently mash until they are visible just above the top of the tins, if using the mini-muffin pans. Smooth any cracks in the shells.

Prick the bottoms of the shells with the fork to guarantee that the crust does not bubble during pre-baking.

Place tart or muffin pans on baking tray. Put sheet in preheated oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool completely.