High Country Baking column: Not-just-for-breakfast tarts

If you're not a fan of blackberries, you can substitute any jam you choose — just be sure it’s flavorful.
Vera Dawson | Special to the Daily |

Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.

Sure, these are great for breakfast, but that’s not the only time you’ll reach for one. The simple combination of sweet blackberry preserves enclosed in a tender crust works almost any time of day.

I make the tarts over a two-day period. On the first day, I prepare the dough and filling and refrigerate them. On the second day, I roll, cut, fill and bake them.

Don’t like blackberries? Substitute any jam you choose, but be sure it’s flavorful, not just sweet, or the overall effect will be disappointing. If you don’t have white whole wheat flour, then substitute all-purpose flour for it. You can add a glaze if you want to mimic the ones made commercially, but I prefer a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar and fresh berries as an accompaniment.

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Not-Just-For-Breakfast Tarts

Makes six 3-inch-by-4-inch tarts

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1 large egg yolk

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk


1 teaspoon cold water

2 teaspoons cornstarch

3/4 cup blackberry preserves/jam

1 large egg, beaten

Fresh blackberries, optional

Make the dough: Pulse the two flours, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor until well mixed. Cut the butter into half-inch pieces, add to the dry ingredients and pulse until the mixture looks like meal. Add the egg yolk and milk and process until the dough comes together; stop just before it forms a ball on the blade. Dump the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper and gently form it into two 3-by-5-inch rectangles. Wrap them in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one day.

Make the filling: Combine the cold water and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir until the cornstarch dissolves in the water. Add this and the preserves to a small saucepan and stir, over low-medium heat, until it simmers and thickens slightly. Set it aside to cool. It can be refrigerated, covered, for a day.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the center position. Take one rectangle of dough out of the refrigerator; roll it into a larger rectangle, 6 inches wide and 12 inches long (I do this between two sheets of waxed paper). Using a ruler and a pizza wheel or bench knife, cut out six 3-by-4-inch rectangles.

Place one rectangle on the lined cookie sheet, brush some of the beaten egg along the edges, spoon a generous tablespoon of filling in the middle and spread it to a quarter inch from the beaten egg. Top with a second dough rectangle and press along the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. If the edges look irregular, then trim them so they look straight. Repeat steps No. 3 and No. 4 with the remainder of the dough.

Space the tarts evenly on the cookie sheet, about an inch apart. Use a toothpick to poke several lines of holes in the top of each tart so steam can escape as they bake. Slide the cookie sheet, with the tarts on it, into the freezer or refrigerator and chill until quite firm. At this point, you can wrap the tarts airtight and freeze them for a week.

Bake the tarts until they are light golden; start checking at 15 minutes; the amount of time needed depends on how cold they are when they enter the oven. Remove them to a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle the tops with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm with fresh berries. The tarts may be cooled completely, stored in the refrigerator for a day or two if well wrapped and re-heated in a 350-degree oven until warm to the touch.

This is a variation of a recipe from Williams-Sonoma.

Vera Dawson, author of the new high altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Bookworm of Edwards and The Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at

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