Mushroom tartlets

Tartlets are one of my favorite canap├ęs. Finger food is a fun way to set the mood and break the stiff formality of a tasting menu. I developed this dish because I wanted to nail the dough for the shells; they are pretty neutral tasting and are a great vehicle for basically any flavor combinations you can imagine. A puree or creamy filling with a texturally-interesting topping is a winning formula.

This version is an "umami bomb" filled with mushrooms prepared a few different ways and topped with sharp aged cheese. Underneath is an intense puree of dried and roasted fresh mushrooms, which gets topped with cooked diced mushrooms and finished with the grated cheese and a few drops of lacto-fermented mushroom juice. The lacto-fermented shiitake recipe uses the template from the Noma Guide to Fermentation, which is a seminal text I strongly recommend to everyone interested in fermentation. Their lacto-ferment recipes are rather simple, combining 2% salt with 100% of a target ingredient (see Baker's percentages) and fermenting under vacuum at room temperature until a deeply-flavored sour, salty flavor is achieved. When doing fermentation projects it is critical to maintain a sanitary work environment and measure precisely for safety. Trust your eyes and nose with your results and as always, when in doubt throw it out.

The baking method of wrapping the shells in aluminum foil lined with weights is called blind baking, meaning the crust is cooked without the filling (which is not baked), and the weights help ensure the crust keeps its shape while baking. The tartlet shells are baked at 400F which is very useful if you are also serving Parker House Rolls in the same meal, but they can also be baked at 375F which should take about 20m.


For 4 servings. You will have extra of all components but it is difficult to make less.

For the lacto-fermented mushroom juice:

100% shiitake mushrooms, stems removed (~10 yields plenty of juice)

2% kosher salt

For the tartlet shells (yields ~15):

130g AP flour (100%)

15g sugar (~12%)

1.5 salt (~1%)

90g cold unsalted butter, cubed (~69%)

1 egg, beaten

~2 Tbsp water, as needed

For the mushroom puree:

~10 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed

20g dried shiitake

10g dried porcini

20g white miso

Rice vinegar

Xanthan gum

To serve:

12 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, finely diced (about 3/pp are necessary to account for shrinkage)

Stock or dashi (optional)


Black vinegar

Aged cheddar or parmesan


  • Prepare the lacto-fermented mushroom juice (1w in advance):Freeze the mushrooms overnight to rupture the mushroom's cells and maximize yield. Combine the frozen mushrooms and salt in a vacuum bag and shake well to combine. Vacuum seal. Ferment at room temperature for 5-6d until liquid is released, yellowed slightly, and pleasantly sour. Taste a few times along the way and feel free to stop early if you are pleased with the result; speed may vary due to environmental conditions and you do not want to over-ferment.
  • Prepare the tartlet shells (up to 3d in advance): Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse to a coarse crumble. Add egg and pulse to combine. Add water, ~1 Tbsp at a time, if necessary to bring togethether into a cohesive mass. Turn onto lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a thick disk, wrap tightly with plastic and wrap and refrigerate 1h (up to 3d, or freeze 1mo).
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let warm for several minutes. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough thinly and evenly, using flour to prevent excessive sticking. Cut circles with a ring mold and place into tartlet shell molds. Place on a tray, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze 30m to prevent shrinkage during baking.
  • Prepare the mushroom puree (up to 24h in advance): Preheat the oven to 400F. Hydrate the dried mushrooms together in 175g boiling water for 1h. Strain, reserving liquid. Drizzle the fresh shiitake with oil and roast for 30m. Blend the roasted and dried mushrooms together, adding reserved liquid as necessary until just coming together into a smooth puree (add additional water slowly, if necessary). Blend in miso and a small pinch of xanthan gum. Season to taste with salt and rice vinegar. Strain and chill until needed.
  • To serve: Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut squares of foil slightly larger than the tartlets and press tightly against the crust, wrap around the edges to prevent burning. Fill with pie weights or dried beans/rice. Bake ~16m @ 400F. The tartlets should be cooked through and lightly golden brown but not crunchy. Remove and let cool slightly before serving. Heat the mushroom puree to serve. Saute the chopped shiitake mushrooms, glaze with a spoonful or two of the stock/dashi or water, and season with the shoyu, black vinegar, and salt. Spoon some of the mushroom puree into the warm tartlet shells. Add a spoonful of the mushroom dice over the puree. Top with a few drops of the lacto-fermented mushroom juice and grate the cheddar or parmesan on top.
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