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baking and desserts

Queen of Hearts Strawberry Tarts | Alice in Wonderland

The Queen of Heart’s stolen tarts cause a lot of drama in Alice in Wonderland, including a wacky trial and much threat of beheading. You can enjoy these with a very calm and reasonable afternoon tea – as long as you remember to paint them red!!

I made a strawberry curd similar to the lemon curd that I used for Sansa’s Lemoncakes, and topped that with a slice of strawberry and some bright red strawberry glaze. On Fiction Kitchen podcast’s Alice in Wonderland episode I mentioned that if I had it to do again, I would probably either just put the glaze in a thin layer, or else forgo the glaze and pile them up a little more with strawberries brushed with a simple syrup – either I think would be good. However, after a day or two of leftovers, my heart softened to this style (I put less cornstarch than most recipes, so it’s not so gelatinous), so a couple of slices with glaze is also an option.

The strawberry curd and strawberry glaze recipes below make WAY more than you will need for these mini tarts, so you also have some options there – either make a large tart instead of mini tarts, halve the recipes, or else just enjoy the leftovers. Recommendation for extra strawberry curd: spread on top of muffins, toast or bagels. Recommendation for extra strawberry glaze: stirred into plain yogurt or poured on top of pancakes (along with some fresh strawberries of course).

Beautiful illustration by Valerie Bastille

Queen of Hearts Tarts

For the dough
Adapted from Sandra Gutierrez’s Butter Pie Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Butter a mini muffin tin (or mini tart pan if you possess such a thing).

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar, orange zest, and butter, until the mixture looks grainy. Add in just enough water that when combined it makes a dough. Turn out onto a floured board or counter, and roll about 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut circles (I used the top of a mason jar) and press them into the prepared muffin tin, making as nice an edge as you can manage. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge at least 30 minutes.

For the strawberry curd
Adapted from Ina Garten

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 eggs
  • juice of 1 lemon and half an orange
  • 1/4 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Cream the butter, then beat in the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs one by one. In a blender, combine lemon and orange juices, strawberries, and salt and blend thoroughly. Press through a fine mesh strainer then combine with butter/sugar mixture.

Pour into a saucepan and cook VERY SLOWLY over low heat, stirring, until thickened (10 minutes or so, mine took longer – it will thicken just below boiling point). Remove from heat and cool completely.

For the strawberry glaze

  • 1 heaping cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

(Full disclosure, I sliced the strawberries and let them sit in sugar for 10 minutes beforehand to release the juices – it’s all going the same place though so this might have been unnecessary). Blend strawberries, sugar, and 3/4 cup water and push through a fine mesh strainer into a sauce pan. Cook on medium low heat, stirring, until thicken, then remove from heat.

To finish
Prick the pie crusts and bake in a 350° oven until golden brown. (You’ll just bake the crusts, not the filling). Remove from the oven and spoon half to 3/4 full of lemon curd, then top with your choice of just glaze, or strawberries (slices or halves) brushed with glaze. Cool completely. You can store them in the fridge.

Serve with barely sweetened yogurt or whipped cream.

Recipe for Fiction Kitchen Episode 13: Alice in Wonderland in which Diana and Carrie discuss Lewis Carroll’s delightfully nonsensical novel, the 1951 Disney adaptation, and several others. Join us! For what use is a book without pictures or conversation?

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