Puff pastry is such a versatile, magical thing. You can make savory or sweet dishes: quiches, tarts, pot pies, puffs, cheese straws, even pizza. Make them and make them look appealing and dressed up, and these days, do it all in a flash. No more rolling together slabs of butter and flour, and rolling for hours. It comes in a nice, compact, frozen package in the supermarket. And it turns out flaky and light and puffy every single time!
There is a go to dessert in South India, it’s made for any occasion (or sometimes no occasion at all), made everywhere at home, temples, weddings, restaurants. It was the first dessert I learned to make, and it’s my favorite. It’s called Kesari (or sheera) and it’s made with fine semolina. I’ve already given the recipe in my blog, here.
I wanted to make this for a party, but the theme was finger foods, so I decided to make little tartlets of Kesari. Only I made a small variation to the Kesari recipe, made it Pineapple Kesari by adding diced pineapple to the pudding, and baking it in little puff pastry tarts. It was yummy, perfect for the occasion and gone in a minute.
I’ll give the recipe again for the Pineapple kesari, and also the procedure to make little tartlets.
Pineapple (Kesari) Tartlets
Semolina – 1 cup
Sugar – 1.5 cups
Water – 1 cup
Cardamom – 2 (pods removed and powdered in a mortar and pestle)
Yellow food color – a pinch (or a big pinch of saffron dissolved in a tablespoon of warm milk)
Roasted cashew nuts – about 10 (for garnish)
Diced pineapple – 3 tablespoons (fresh or canned)
1. Boil the water and keep it simmering.
2. Dry roast the semolina till golden brown and smells nutty. Take care not to burn it. This step is important or the pudding will be like glue!
3. Add the water, and stir continuously as not to form lumps. The semolina will absorb the water very quickly.
4. Once the water has been absorbed, add the sugar and continue stirring. The sugar will melt and continue to cook the semolina.
5. Add the diced pineapple, and keep stirring.
5. Add the color (or saffron milk) and cardamom powder.
6. Once the pudding is thickened (it will continue to thicken as it cools, so if you take it a bit early it’s OK) take it off the heat, top it off with the cashew nuts.
How to make tartlets:
Kesari – recipe given above
Puff pastry sheets – 2
Egg – 1
1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
2. Thaw the frozen Puff Pastry at room temperature for 30 min.
3. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your work surface, and spread the puff pastry sheet out.
4. Roll the pastry out, making it a bit thinner than it is, taking care not to put too much pressure and squishing the layers together.
5. Cut rounds with a cookie cutter of desired size (or a glass is fine).
6. Make indentations with a smaller cookie cutter in the middle. Dont cut all the way through.
7. Now take a fork and make holes all over the smaller circle in the middle. This is to make sure that part doesn’t puff up, white the surrounding edge puffs up.
8. Place about a tablespoon of Kesari in the centre, just about the size of the smaller circle.
9. Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water to make egg wash. Coat the edge of the tartlets lightly with egg wash.
9. Place the tartlets on a greased cookie sheet, and bake for 15-17 min, till the edges puff up nicely and are golden brown.
10. Let it cool on a wire rack for 10 – 15 min and serve.
1. The left over puff pastry after you cut out the rounds, don’t waste it. Bake it for 5-7 mins, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon sugar, and a small treat for the kids. (or the cook :))
2. Kesari can be prepared ahead of time. Keeps well in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container.