Canapes au Camembert (Camembert Tartlet Shells)
Canapés au camembert are the perfect palate teasers. They have a flaky, buttery shell and are covered with a camembert sauce mornay, which is béchamel and some cheese. The key to a good homogenous spread is a ripe, gooey, aged cheese. The addition of mustard and a hint of red chili pepper make it slightly piquant.
You can serve them as appetizers, as a first course accompanied with a salad or bake in a large tart pan and serve it as a main course for a light lunch.
Making this dish took me back to my time in Paris just before I got married. I was working non-stop, and after work, my boss would often take me for dinner to a brasserie. We would always get some amuse-gueules to start our meal. Amuse, in French, means entertainment in a playful, casual way, and gueule is slang for mouth. Those wonderful appetizers were a perfect way to whet the appetite before a nice meaty main course. Amuse-bouches, like the canapés au camembert I made today, are just a more sophisticated name for the fare I had so often in those brasseries.
Yields: 126 ounces camembert, ripe
1 pinch red chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coarse grain mustard
1/8 teaspoons white peppercorns, freshly ground
1 pinch nutmeg
1 cup half and half, warm, more if needed
3 cups all-purpose flour, + 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, + 2-1/2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup water, cold
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon curly parsley, finely chopped, + for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the tartelette crust: In a bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar. Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor with a silicone brush. Then mix 3 cups of flour, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, garlic powder and cold water to form a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl, add the egg mixture and 4 tablespoons of cold diced butter and the vegetable shortening. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and homogenous. Cover with a towel and let stand until the sauce mornay is ready.
For the mornay sauce: Remove the crust of the camembert. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low. Add the red chili powder and 2 tablespoons of flour. Whisk for approximately 2 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste. Add the warm half and half in 3 stages. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low. Add the remaining salt, mustard and nutmeg. Mix well, then add the camembert cheese and white pepper. Cover the sauce with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter to keep it from forming a skin. Let the sauce cool completely.
Assembly time: Roll the tartlet dough using a rolling pin, about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Create 1-1/2-inch disks of dough. Place the disks into individual mini-tartlet shells previously buttered (or in one 9-inch pie). Add about 2 teaspoons of mornay sauce in the molds. Bake for 20-22 minutes until slightly golden. Remove from the oven, repeat until all the dough is used.
Garnish with a little parsley. Serve warm.
You can substitute the usual store-bought puff pastry for this dough if you want to save time. The tartelette crust has a more flaky, buttery flavor (thanks to the use of vegetable shortening).
If you find camembert to be to strong to your taste, you can substitute brie for example, for a milder flavor.
If you have mornay sauce left-over, don't discard it. Just thin it with a little milk and use it as a sauce for your pasta.
This recipe yields a little more than 2 dozens tartlets.
Published By: on August 6, 2009.