Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn Fruit Tartlets

It often happens that my most creative cooking is done late at night.  I was wanting something sweet, but was out of ice cream (oh, the horror!).  I remembered I had some raisins and dried dates, and I also had some pear butter a friend had made and given me, so I decided to make up some little tarts. 

I used the raisins, dates, and some walnuts, as well as some vanilla, cinnamon, milk, instant tapioca pudding, and wonton skins.  
I started by soaking the dried fruit and walnuts (which I toasted for a few seconds on a plate in the microwave) in milk.  Why soak them?  Well, the dates were getting a little dry.  I mean, even for dried fruit.  I didn't want hard fruit, I wanted sweet bits of chewy deliciousness.  Why milk?  It was the liquid the instant tapioca called for, and I figured I'd just add the extra soaking liquid to the pudding.

The instructions say to let the tapioca soak five minutes in the milk before you start cooking.  Do it.  I didn't, and I'm fairly certain that's why my pudding never got completely thick. 

After I made the pudding, I mixed in the fruit and nuts, along with some vanilla and cinnamon.  Sorry, I don't have exact amounts--just add and mix until it smells good!  At this point you can either wait for the pudding to thicken as it cools, or you can be impatient like me and just move quick before things run out of the wrapper.  When you're ready to move on to the next step, lay out a few wonton wrappers and a small bowl of water, then heat up some oil in your iron skillet.

Spoon a touch of pear butter (you could probably use apple butter, too) into a wonton wrapper, then a small (you'll need less than you think, especially if it's still runny) spoonful of your fruit-and-nut tapioca.  Dip your "impeccably clean" (as Julia Child used to say) finger into the bowl of water, run it around two adjacent sides of your wonton wrapper, fold it in half, and pop it into the frying pan.  Your filling is already cooked, so you're just trying to brown the outside a little.  When the color looks good to you, pull it out. 

It took a few minutes to make them, mainly because "minute" tapioca takes a while to make, what with the soaking and the waiting for things to heat and all, but they were surprisingly good!
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