A simple and fun mushroom tartlet recipe topped with gruyere cheese and thyme. A perfect appetizer for any holiday get together.
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I happen to think mushrooms are like the greatest thing ever. Whenever someone wrinkles their nose and says, ‘I don’t like mushrooms’, all I can do is stare at them blankly. That phrase just doesn’t compute in my mind. The flavor of mushrooms seems to be one that we grow into. I don’t hear a lot of five-year-olds requesting mushroom as a pizza topping. Admittedly, I was one of those kids. You’d never find anything but pepperoni on my pizza. Around age 20, though, something began to change. It could have been a hormone shift, a desire to seem more sophisticated, or just genuine curiosity that opened my palette. Whatever the reason, I’m glad it happened. Because a life without things like mushrooms just seems…empty.
To keep that emptiness out of our lives, we’re going to whip up a batch of tartlets the star of which is? You guessed it – mushrooms. Admittedly, if you don’t like mushrooms – this probably isn’t the post for you. Perhaps you’d prefer a different appetizer for your holiday get-together. Like this Kalamata Olive Tapenade on Crostini or Smoky Baba Ghanoush on Toasted Pita? Or, you could stay tuned for next week’s post (spoiler alert) – Tom and Jerry Holiday Cocktail. Right now, though, we’re going to chop some mushrooms. This recipe calls for 2 8 oz. packages of them. You can use any type of mushroom you like. I went with 1 package of good old white button and 1 package of cremini. Simply slice them and chop those slices into small-ish pieces. While you’re at it, mince 2 cloves of garlic. Because I can’t seems to make a recipe that doesn’t include garlic.
Now it’s time to saute – it only takes the addition of a few extra ingredients to draw a lot of flavor out of those mushrooms. Heat a skillet to slightly less than medium and add 1 healthy Tbsp. of butter (it’s the holidays – you can work it off in January). Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. When the garlic is nice and fragrant, add all the mushrooms. Stir them around and add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. The salt is actually going to draw the liquid out of the mushrooms and create a little bit of ‘broth’. Saute for 4 minutes, stirring often, and then add 1/4 cup of white wine – something like a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc would work great. To the mixture, add 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes. The wine will reduce a little bit and the thyme should infuse the mushrooms. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Now let’s talk puff pastry. This stuff is great – it’s basically just dough and butter that’s layered on top of itself and literally ‘puffs’ as it bakes. You can make it from scratch, but who has that kind of time? Buy a package, throw it in your freezer, and then thaw it for 45 minutes before use. There are 2 sheets per package. Remove both of them, sprinkle a little flour on a flat surface, and roll both of them out slightly. This will give you a little more dough to work with. We’re making tartlets today, so the trick is to cut circles in the dough. You can use the top of a water glass, a cookie cutter, or a mason jar lid (is there seriously anything a mason jar can’t do?) I was able to get 9 circles out of each sheet.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees and place the circles on a baking sheet. The next step is very important – take a fork and poke each circle 3-4 times. This will prevent the pastry from actually ‘puffing’ when it bakes. We only want a little bit of puff. Too much puff will cause all the ingredients to fall off. After you’ve poked the pastry, sprinkle 1 Tbsp. or so of shredded gruyere cheese and a healthy spoonful of the mushroom mixture. Gruyere is a Swiss cheese that’s kind of nutty, earthy, and creamy. It’s just damn delicious – there’s no other way around it. And it works perfectly on these tartlets.
Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 18 minutes. The bottom of the tartlets will get golden brown and the gruyere will melt perfectly. You can bake these one batch at a time or all at once using 2 baking sheets.
Remove from the baking sheet and place on a serving tray. Sprinkle the tartlets with a generous amount of chopped fresh thyme and the zest of 1 lemon. Mushroom, gruyere cheese, and thyme are heavily earthy flavors and the lemon zest brightens the whole thing up. These tartlets can be served right out of the oven, so it’s best to make them right before eating. Truth be told, I had to limit myself to one tartlet or I’m afraid I would have eaten the whole pan. They’re that good. And the next time someone tells you they don’t like mushrooms, look them straight in the eye, hold one of these tartlets in front of their face, and take a big bite out of it. Because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove puff pastry from freezer 45 minutes before use.
- Mince garlic, slice and chop mushrooms, and grate 1 1/2 cups gruyere cheese.
- Heat pan to slightly less than medium and melt butter.
- Add garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add mushrooms along with salt and pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add white wine and 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Continue to saute for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Unwrap puff pastry and place on lightly floured surface. Roll each sheet out slightly.
- Cut 9 circles in each sheet of puff pastry using a circular object.
- Place the circles on a baking sheet and poke each one with a fork 3-4 times.
- Place a Tbsp. of shredded cheese on each circle.
- Place a 1-2 Tbsp. of mushroom mixture on top of cheese.
- Bake for 18 minutes or until golden.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped time and the zest of one lemon.
- Serve immediately.