What the croissant is to France, the pasticciotto is to Puglia, something you’ll learn quickly during an Italy cooking vacation to this southern region of Italy. This Pugliese pastry is originally from Lecce, but it can be found throughout Puglia and even in other regions of Italy.
Pasticciotti are said to put one in a good mood, which should be no surprise from a sweet custard-filled tart. You can enjoy them with an espresso, cappuccino, or the regional drink called latte di mandorla. Still not convinced to try pasticciotti? George Clooney reportedly served them at his Italian wedding to his guests, so you know they’ve got to be good!
Check out the video, or scroll down for the recipe!
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Cook method: Bake
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup butter, vegetable shortening, or lard
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1 tsp almond extract (or vanilla extract)
- 1 rind of lemon
- Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk)
1. Start by making the dough. Sift together the flour with the baking powder, sugar, and salt in a big bowl.
2. Using a pastry blender, add in the butter, and blend until the mixture looks like corn meal. (You can also use a food processor for this part.)
3. Using your hands, add the vanilla, milk, and egg. Now form the dough into a smooth ball. Then wrap the dough in plastic and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
4. Next, on to the filling! In a medium saucepan, quickly whisk together the sugar and cornstarch; this will keep lumps from forming.
5. Continue whisking, and slowly add the milk.
6. Turn on the heat to medium, then add the lemon zest and butter. Start warming up the mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken (about 7-8 minutes).
7. Remove the pan from the heat. Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl with the almond extract. Add a bit of the hot mixture to the egg mixture to temper it, whisking briskly. Then add it into the custard mixture, still whisking briskly. It should now have a custard consistency. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic to the surface of the custard, and set to cool in the fridge for an hour.
8. Now it’s time to assemble these tasty treats! Cut the dough ball in two pieces with one piece slightly larger. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the dough pieces to the thickness you would use for a pie crust (about 1/8 inch).
9. Using a 3 to 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out dough circles. You will need 12 in total, but might only get 8-9 on the first rolling of the dough. Press each of these circles into the bottom and up onto the sides of 2 3/4 inch tart pans. (You can also use standard size muffin tins.)
10. Take the dough scraps and re-roll to cut the rest of the circles.
11. Place the tart pans onto a baking sheet. Fill each tart shell with about 2 tablespoons of filling.
12. Roll out the other piece of dough, and again cut it into circles about 3 inches each.
13. Brush the edges of the tart bottoms with egg wash, then place the circles over each tart and pinch the dough edges closed. (You can refrigerate the tarts for 30 minutes before baking or put straight in the oven at this point).
14. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, paint the tops of the tarts with egg wash.
15. Bake the tarts for about 15-18 minutes, or until the tops turn a beautiful golden brown.
16. Remove from the oven and let the pasticciotti cool a couple minutes, then remove them carefully from their tins and let them cool completely. If you’d like to save them for later, store in an air-tight container.
By Peg Kern
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