I’ve always loved the simple combination of rich, buttery, crumbly shortbread and jam. We are lucky enough to always have a steady supply of home made jam in our pantry. The fruit plucked from the trees in my father’s garden when it’s sweet and ripe and simmered into luscious deliciousness in my mother’s kitchen. These little tarts showcase that home made jam beautifully are a favourite recipe in my baking repertoire.
I remember first making these when my daughters were very young for an afternoon tea party. I needed something small and easy to bake using basic pantry ingredients. Time was precious and, as now, I had no patience for long involved processes. Sometimes nothing changes. The tarts look impressive and believe it or not involve no rolling of pastry or fiddly assembly. Just the forming of well rested shortbread dough into teaspoon sized balls which are gently pressed into greased mini muffin trays. A quick blast in the freezer prior to baking ensures this very short, crumbly tart base holds its shape in a hot oven. I like to bake the tart bases blind for ten minutes or so before dolloping in the jam and returning to the oven until they’re crisp and golden.
The tarts taste as fabulous as they look. Be warned these bite sized treats are extremely more-ish and it’s difficult to stop ad just one. I should know. This batch was made on my last 5-2 day and scuttled a whole day of fasting. What was I thinking? Transferring my tarts from the cooling rack to their tupperware container I mindlessly sampled not just one or two but three before I firmly snapped on the lid and hid the container in the dark recesses of my pantry cupboard.
Jam Shortbread Tarts
Makes 36 miniature tarts.
For The Shortbread
250g block unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 tablespoons corn flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
For The Filling
1/2 cup jam
LIGHTLY butter or oil 36 holes of two miniature muffin tins. A standard tin has 24 holes.
PLACE softened butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat together until smooth and creamy.
ADD the vanilla extract. Beat until just incorporated.
SIFT together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Add to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined.
FORM the soft shortbread dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
REMOVE the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and working quickly take heaped teaspoons of dough, roll into balls and place in the centre of each muffin hole.
WITH clean fingertips, press each shortbread ball onto the bottom and up the sides of each hole to form tart cases.
COVER each tray with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 10 -15 minutes. This will firm up the shortbread before baking and help prevent shrinkage.
PREHEAT oven to 170C.
REMOVE the trays from the freezer and bake the shortbread tart cases,unfilled, for an initial 10 minutes. The pastry should just be beginning to colour.
REMOVE the trays from the oven. If the shortbread has puffed up, use the back of a small teaspoon to press down gently in the centre of each tart case before adding the jam.
USING two teaspoons fill each shortbread tart about three-quarters full with your favorite jam.
RETURN the trays to the hot 170C oven and bake for a further 10 minutes until the tarts are nicely golden around the edges and the jam has set.
REMOVE from oven, allow the tarts to cool in their tins for 15 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.