Cold weather and the holiday season mean that my oven’s often in use, baking all kinds of treats. Fancy cookies are all very well, and fun to give as gifts, but sometimes I just want something quick and easy, but still utterly delicious. That’s when I turn to my freezer, and pull out a batch of frozen tart shells, so I can bake quick maple tarts.
A note about those frozen tart shells – I hear that they can be hard to find. Me, I live within 20 miles of Canadian grocery stores, so I hop over the border and zip right to the freezer case, where I find perfect 3-inch tart shells in convenient packaging. I confess that I usually bring about 6 dozen home with me, because I have space in the freezer.
I get my maple syrup from a local producer; the trees grow within 50 miles of my house. You can use nearly any pure maple syrup, but you’ll get the biggest flavor if you use dark syrup. In the East, it’ll be labelled “grade B” or “grade A amber” — or, now that the USDA is standardizing labels, it might be “grade A | dark color & robust flavor”. You don’t want a harsh syrup, but dark has more flavor!
If you’re starting with frozen tart shells, maple tarts take less than 30 minutes start to finish. They’re delicious just as they are, though I hear some folks like them with a dollop of whipped cream. They’ll keep on the counter for 2 days or so, and in the fridge for longer, but I’ve never had a batch last that long. Try them yourself!