There are only four great arts: music, painting, sculpture, and ornamental pastry.
I realize this little pie is a far cry from ornamental pastry but I just didn’t think I would ever have another chance to use that quotation. Once I made a pie crust with some petite acorn-shaped cut-outs on it, but that’s as close to the great art as I have gotten.
I have taken to referring to these little delights as Midgie-Pies, which is one of my youngest daughter’s many nicknames.* This nomenclature has prompted my older daughter to ask why she does not have a signature dessert. Well, I am working on it. But in the mean time, she is quite content to EAT these tartlets, even if they are not her namesakes. In fact, everyone in the family is begging me to turn out more.
I was inspired by Alana Chernila’s lovely book The Homemade Pantry. Her recipe for toaster pastries got me thinking: I love the idea of pop tarts. Since childhood I have been fascinated and repulsed by their slimness and symmetry, their crackable frostinged tops and their horrid, get-it-off-my-tongue-now flavor. Alana Chernila is out to make almost everything from scratch (Ricotta cheese! Butter! Yogurt!) so why couldn’t I whip out some wee, portable pies?
I had cream cheese in the fridge that cried out to be used up, which is why I did not follow her pastry recipe. Instead I used a recipe for cream cheese pastry dough that was originally intended for a savory pie. I added a spoonful of sugar to the recipe (because apparently a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, in a most delightful way). In terms of the filling, I did as instructed by The Homemade Pantry and the result was a flaky, buttery, sweet (but not too sweet!) little dessert/breakfast item that made everyone like me.
I won’t lie, these took awhile but, as always, I have tips: Make the dough ahead of time – in the Cuisinart for Pete’s sake because it’s the work of seconds – and let it spend some time reclining in the fridge, snuggly wrapped up. The dough needs time to firm up and it’s easier to make something in two stages.
May you make these and also be loved by someone special, even if only for a few, fleeting hours.
*Years ago I had a dessert I named for Midgie-Pie called Peach Boing-Boing. I have since forgotten what was in it but I am guessing peaches and ice cream? I probably plagiarized Peach Melba, the namesake dessert of Dame Nellie Melba who, though certainly a fine opera singer, did not sport my Midgie’s luscious, coppery, boing-boing curls. But then, God can’t always give with both hands.