Monday, March 30, 2015

Pastaciotti (Pusties)

Little Custard Tarts

Vanilla Pastaciotti
Pastaciotti are actually little custard tarts, an Italian pastry filled with rich chocolate or vanilla cream.  Now, I'm confessing to everyone that my favorite is...vanilla!  I know!  I'm a chocoholic by nature, but the vanilla ones "speak" to me!

I have to tell you all, again, my mom was my inspiration for cooking.  Everything she made was so good, and we always had fun in the kitchen together.  I can remember making homemade ravioli with her.  I was pregnant at the time, and as she was lining them up on her small countertop, one fell to the floor.  Immediately, she threw it into the trash...and I had tears in my eyes.  Losing even one of her delicious ravioli broke my heart.  Hey, remember, I was pregnant, so I'll use that as my excuse for the inappropriate emotional response.  Yes, you can laugh at me...she did!  :)

This is her recipe, of course (hehe) and once you've had them, you'll never need to go to an Italian pastry shop again.  These are the best!

If you do see them at a bakery, the ones with the little ball on top are filled with vanilla, and the plain topped ones are chocolate.  Now, I only make the vanilla ones (using my mom's vanilla cream), but I still put the ball on top.  Why?  Tradition!  Ha...and they look cute. 
 

*You will need special tins, they have fluted edges. Try online and search for pustie tins. You will need 12 large or 24 small.


Ingredients:
 
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 c. brown sugar (light or dark)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour (unbleached, all-purpose) plus a little water, if needed
3 eggs
 
Preheat oven to 350'F.
 
Mix crust ingredients in a large bowl, careful not to work the dough too long, a mixer master with a flat beater works great ( if the dough doesn't come together add 1 teaspoon more of water at a time. Egg size varies and sometimes you need just a little more to get the dough to hold together).  Lightly spray each tin with pam spray for easier release when using metal.  If using silicone molds, no spraying
is necessary. 

Break dough into 24 equal pieces.  Roll 12 pieces out, like you would pie crust, to about 1/4" thick, not too thin. 
 
Gently pat down into each tin and up the sides.  Save scraps. Brush inside edges with an egg wash from one beaten egg.
 
Place cooled filling in each pastry-lined pan and cover each with a round of rolled out dough.  Press together around edges to seal.


Brush tops of pusties with beaten egg yolk before baking.  (If you'd like, roll out small balls from the excess dough and place on top for your vanilla pusties, then brush with egg wash.)


Bake in preheated 350'F. oven for 25-30 minutes or until light brown on top. Ovens vary, so sometimes as long as 35 minutes.  (I check them after 20 min.)
 
Cool a few minutes.  If they look like they're stuck around the edges, take a knife to loosen, pop out of the tins onto wax paper and cool completely right side up. (So far, they have never stuck to the edges.)
 
 
Vanilla Cream Pudding:
(My Mom's recipe)

6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. butter

Combine flour, sugar, salt and eggs in saucepan and stir until smooth; gradually add milk and continue to stir constantly over medium heat, until  thickened.  If it looks lumpy, use a wire whisk and it will smooth out nicely.  Add vanilla and butter after pudding has thickened.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  (Hide it from the kids, mine eat it while it's still warm.  Yes, it's that good!)


Chocolate:

 1 cup white granulated sugar
3 heaping tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 squares (1 ounce each) chocolate, unsweetened
1 tsp. vanilla

Place sugar and flour in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in milk and egg yolks to incorporate and make smooth . Cook until thick, stirring frequently. Cool, then add vanilla or rum. 
Chocolate and Vanilla Pusties
 
 
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." - John 12:46
 


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