Okay, I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes I’m a lazy cook. There are just some nights where I want to eat nice food without spending hours slaving away over every last little detail. Especially when there’s baking involved. So when, on Monday, I decided I wanted a goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tartlet without the fuss, that’s what I set out to make.
Let me start with a shocking revelation. I hate baking. Cakes, pies, pastries – I just can’t do it without quite literally whisking myself into a panic. It’s the precision of it all; the measuring, weighing out, the time sensitive dough sitting in my oven like an unexploded bomb I’m attempting to defuse. If cooking is art, then baking is chemistry. And chemistry has always been my worst subject.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the first pillar of this corner-cutting meal is pre-made puff pastry. Straight from a packet, ready to be rolled within an inch of its delicate, mass-produced life. (I would have bought it pre-rolled if I could have, but sadly the supermarket had already been filled with its share of non-bakers that day.)
What might come as a surprise, however, (and believe me, this is a much more shameful admission) is that the filling for my tartlets was spooned straight out of a jar of caramelised onion chutney. But I don’t even feel bad about this, because I love eating this kind of preserve in so many different ways – on toast, crackers or croissants with a slice of cheese, for example. Of course I know and often do make my own caramelised onions, and one day I’ll probably make this recipe from scratch – pastry and everything – just to prove it to you, but for a lazy midweek meal, I think these are adequate substitutes.
I love the combination of the sharp yet sweet onion chutney in contrast to the creamy goat’s cheese, combined with a perfectly flaky pastry base and delicately fragrant thyme. Every mouthful is sensational, and it doesn’t even taste like a cheap and easy cheater’s delight!
Goat’s Cheese & Caramelised Onion Tartlet (Serves 4)
– 1 block puff pastry
– around half a jar of caramelised onion chutney
– 75g goat’s cheese
– egg wash
– salt and pepper, to taste
– balsamic glaze, to serve
– rocket, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Roll out the puff pastry (if you haven’t bought the pre-rolled stuff) to around 1cm thickness and cut into the shapes you want for the tartlets. I cut two around a bowl for circle shaped ones and two into rectangles, just to mix it up! Carefully score the pastry, around 1cm in from the edge, creating a border that will rise and form the sides of the tartlet. Using a fork, prick the inside and then use egg wash on the outside border.
2. Spoon your caramelised onion chutney into the middle of the pastry and spread until it meets the border. One or two tablespoons per tartlet should be enough; any more and it could suffer the dreaded soggy bottom. Top with as much goat’s cheese as you desire, but again, don’t overload it. I used about two tablespoons of soft and mild goat’s cheese. Place a sprig of thyme on each and grind some fresh black pepper over the top.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is nice and golden. Serve with rocket and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.