Pasticiotti

Pasta Ciotti or Pasticiotti (Little Custard Tarts)

Pasticiotti (or called Pasta Ciotti, as referred to in this recipe by Mary Ann Esposito in her book Celebrations Italian Style) are small individual cream or custard filled tarts with either a vanilla cream or custard filling or chocolate cream or ricotta cheese filling. They are a wonderful Italian treat. You may make them as small 3-inch tarts or even smaller "mini" tarts.

 
Ingredients: 
Dough: 
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 

1/2 cup granulated sugar 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening 
1/4 cup milk 
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 large egg, well beaten 

Filling: 
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
2/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 1/2 cups milk 
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten 
1 teaspoon almond or orange extract 

Egg Wash: 
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk, for the egg wash

Instructions:
Dough: 
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the milk, vanilla, and egg and use your hands to mix the ingredients into a smooth ball of dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside. 

Filling: 
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, making sure there are no lumps. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add the butter, place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolk and almond extract. Set the custard aside. 

To Assemble and Bake: 
Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece into an 11-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Using a 3-inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out circles of dough and press each one into the bottom and up the sides of 3 x 1 1/4-inch tart pans (or use "Pustie Tins" ). Reroll the scraps and cut out additional circles. You should have 12 tart shells. 

Place the tart pans on a cookie sheet. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling into each tart shell. 

Roll out the second piece of dough and cut out 3-inch circles. Place a circle over each tart and pinch the edges closed. 

With a pastry brush, paint the top of each tart with the egg wash. Refrigerate the tarts for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C. Bake the tarts on the middle oven rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove the tarts to racks and let cool completely. 

Carefully remove the tarts from the pans. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Makes 1 dozen (3-inch) tarts. 

*Notes: 
If you make miniature tarts, bake for only 8 to 10 minutes. This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen miniature tarts. 

Pasticiotti Tins (or sometimes called "Pustie" Tins) may be purchased online 

FILLING VARIATIONS 

VANILLA FILLING 
Ingredients: 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
2 cups milk 
3 egg yolks, beaten well 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 

Place sugar and flour in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in milk and egg yolks to prevent lumps. Cook until thick, stirring frequently. Cool, then add vanilla. 

CHOCOLATE FILLING 
Ingredients: 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 cup milk 
1 cup water 
1 egg, beaten well 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 

Place sugar, flour, and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in milk, water, and egg to prevent lumps. Cook until thick, stirring frequently. Cool, then add vanilla. 

RICOTTA FILLING 
Ingredients: 
2 pounds (907g) ricotta cheese 
3/4 pound (340g) confectioners' sugar 

Combine ingredients and use as filling for Pasticiotti.