Picture these Boat Tarts – Filipino Pastry Tarts with Caramel and Meringue Topping. Imagine the crisp, buttery, flaky, pastry at the bottom. And a rich, gooey caramel middle filling. Finally, a sweet meringue topping so light and puffy, it’s like biting into a cloud. And what’s amazing is that these three layers are in one adorable little pastry called a “boat tart”.
We’ve had a cookie fest for the past weeks in our home. From baking all-time favorites to new cookie recipes, the oven has been working nonstop with all these cookies. I like to go back to pastry recipes I grew up with and re-introduce them to my sons and their friends. It’s my way of celebrating Christmas the way I remember it.
One of our favorite Filipino pastries are the “boat tarts”. They measure approximately two inches long, and one inch wide. You can buy these baked boat tarts in any pastry shop in the Philippines. Here in America, they are hard to find if you don’t live near Filipino communities like I do. So I make them from scratch.
These are called “boat tarts” because the pastry crust is baked in little tart pans that are shaped like a tiny boat, with tiny, fluted edges. Each boat tart has three layers to it : the pastry crust, the caramel filling and a meringue topping. Baking is done separately for each layer. These are very popular dessert or snack treats in the Philippines. Most times, they are wrapped in colored cellophane and then end up looking like a giant candy.
These boat tarts are given out as gifts during holidays or special occasions. The crust is baked crisp, flaky and tastes butter-like and terrific. Once the pastry tart is baked, a rich caramel filling is poured into it. Bake this again. Then later pour the meringue on top of the cooked caramel filling. Bake it in a slow oven for a couple of minutes, and before you know it, you’ll have a Filipino favorite in your hands.
Boat Tarts: Filipino Pastry Tarts with Caramel and Meringue Topping
- boat-shaped tins for pastry crust - 2-inches in length
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour for pastry crust
- 1/2 + 1/4 cups chilled butter, unsalted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 whole chilled egg yolk
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons cold water as needed for pastry crust
- 3 whole egg yolks; for caramel filling
- 1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
- 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 whole egg whites, for topping
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- To make the Pastry Crust:
- Blend flour, salt and butter till they resemble coarse crumbs.
- Add the egg yolk. Incorporate and knead well. Either use pastry blender by hand or a food processor. Add cold water, as needed to bind crust together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Grease tiny tart molds. On a floured board, roll out the pastry dough.
- Cut out the a rectangle piece of dough, measuring 3 inches x 1 inch and place it on top of the boat-shaped tart mold (use small round tart molds if that’s more convenient).
- Place all the little tart shells on a large flat baking sheet. Bake pastry shell tarts in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside while preparing the caramel filling.
- To make the Caramel Filling:
- Blend the above ingredients in a small bowl.
- Pour the caramel filling into the baked pastry tarts. Fill pastry tarts about 2/3 full.
- Bake at 350 F degrees for 15 minutes. When done, take out of the oven and set aside.
- Prepare the meringue topping.
- To make the Meringue Topping:
- Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature. Add the cream of tartar and salt to the egg whites.
- At high speed, beat the egg whites in a mixer, till stiff peaks form.
- Slowly add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time.
- Place egg whites/ meringue in a plastic disposable pastry bag. Cut off the tip and press the plastic pastry bag to drizzle some egg white on the top of each caramel-filled tart.
- Return the caramel-meringue tarts to the oven. Bake at 250 F slow oven for 40 minutes or till meringue topping is stiff and cooked.
- Take out of the oven and cool on racks. When done, carefully remove whole tart and serve. Or wrap the tarts in colored cellophane individually, once they have cooled.
- Cook's Comments : I bake these using the "boat tart molds" my sister sent me from the Philippines. These Filipino-made tiny tart pans might not be readily sold here in America. As an alternative, you can use 1 to 2-inch in diameter, round, non-stick tart pans, which are available in department stores, specialty shops or online sources for kitchen utensils. Simply follow the same recipe procedure above.
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