Sweet, tart and savory: Goat Cheese Tarts with Leeks and Apricot Preserves

by Terry B on May 4, 2011

Frozen puff pastry makes these tarts easy to prepare. Their delicate savory/sweet flavor makes them hard to resist. Recipe below.

goat-cheese-tarts

The intersection of sweet and savory is a sweet spot for me. I love how the flavors complement each other. And the geek in me loves how they cause different sets of taste buds to fire off at the same time, leaving it to your brain to sort out the sensations colliding in your mouth.

I also love easy, which is among the reasons I tend to shy away from baking. But recently, I saw a recipe for individual tarts using frozen puff pastry. (Yes, I’ve seen—or more likely, tuned out—tons of recipes involving puff pastry in the past, as I’m sure we all have.) For some reason, though, one particular recipe caught my eye recently, and I thought, “I’ve got to remember this. I’ve got to bookmark this.” Of course, I did neither.

What I did do was start thinking about doing some kind of tart, preferably sweet and savory, made with puff pastry. It quickly evolved in my head to the one you see here, with goat cheese, leeks and apricot jam. Goat cheese is wonderfully mild, as are leeks. Together, they provide a savoriness that also has a certain lightness to it. I see these tarts as a light first course or, made smaller, as light appetizers. Something more earthy, like sautéed mushrooms, would overpower the delicate airiness of the puff pastry and clash with any attempts to add sweetness.

For that sweetness, apricot preserves were a given. At any time, there are numerous jams and preserves in our fridge. While we enjoy them all (including various impulse purchases made at farmers markets or while traveling), the one we most often grab for toast, PBJ sandwiches and even salad dressings is the apricot. It’s got everything going for it—the beautiful golden color, the promise of summer afternoons and just a slight puckery tartness that balances the sweetness.

Goat Cheese Tarts with Leeks and Apricot Preserves
Makes about 10 3-inch tarts

2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
canola oil
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (but keep it cold—see Kitchen Notes)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash
8 ounces goat cheese, chilled
1/4 cup apricot preserves (or more)
flour for dusting working surface

parchment paper

Prepare leeks. Slice off root end and most of the green tops. Slice leeks in half lengthwise. Rinse under running water, fanning layers to wash away any grit. Slice crosswise in 1/3-inch pieces. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium flame and melt the butter; drizzle in a little canola oil (maybe 2 teaspoons) and swirl the pan to combine. Add the leeks and tarragon and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. You want the leeks translucent, but not browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Prepare the puff pastry. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Dust a working surface lightly with flour. Unfold the chilled puff pastry and flatten it with your hands; gently repair any tears, pinching the dough lightly with your fingers. Roll it out slightly with a flour-dusted rolling pin. Using a 3-inch diameter (or so) cookie cutter or biscuit cutter (or as I did, a clean tuna fish can—reduce, reuse, recycle!), cut 10 disks from the dough. If you get fewer disks—or more—no big deal. Discard the rest of the dough (or see Kitchen Notes for another idea).

Arrange the disks on parchment paper-lined baking sheet(s). Using the tip of a paring knife, score a circle about 1/4 to 1/2-inch inside the edges of the disk. The dough is quite pliable, so you are essentially drawing a line with the knife tip. Prick the pastry disks inside the scored lines all over with the tines of a fork. This will keep the center of the disks from puffing up. Brush tops of the disks with egg wash.

Assemble the tarts. Spoon the leeks into the centers of the pastry disks, keeping within the scored lines. Crumble chilled goat cheese over the leeks, about 1/2 tablespoon or so per tart (I totally eyeballed this—you do the same). In a small bowl, Slightly mash the apricot preserves with a fork to break up any large chunks of fruit. Spoon about a teaspoon or so on top of each tart, confining it mostly to the center (it may get a little runny during the baking).

Bake the tarts for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. If you’re using two baking sheets on two racks in your oven, swap them halfway through. Transfer the tarts to a platter. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Kitchen Notes

Keep things cool. This is the first time I’ve worked with puff pastry. Listen to everyone who tells you to keep the dough cold. I didn’t (following a random bit of bad advice about workability)—it was a bear to unfold. Also, if you keep the goat cheese cold, it will crumble nicely over the tarts instead of sticking to your fingers (this I already knew).

Got extra dough lying around? While the tarts are baking, patch the scraps of dough into little strips or whatever and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. When the tarts come out of the oven, pop these babies in for 15 minutes. Easiest fun little dessert ever. I got this tip from one of countless puff pastry recipes I looked at. Whoever wrote it, thank you.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

The Rowdy Chowgirl May 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Beautiful tarts! I’ve done something similar with caramelized onions, goat cheese, and apple slices.

Ronnie Ann May 5, 2011 at 1:05 am

Oh Terry…this looks so good. I’m a huge fan of sweet plus savory, not to mention colliding sensations. (Love your description.) Speaking of love…that sounds outrageously collisional, Rowdy Chowgirl!

Terry B May 5, 2011 at 1:42 am

Thanks, Rowdy Chowgirl! And I love the idea of apple slices in your version.

Ronnie Ann, I have to admit I was pleased with that description too. Thanks!

baobabs May 5, 2011 at 8:37 am

looks delicious! never put leek and apricot together

Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum May 5, 2011 at 11:24 am

I’ve been looking for something like this to serve at my sister’s bridal shower next weekend! Do you think I could use different fillings other than leek/goat cheese? Does the puff pastry hold up pretty well?

This is perfect. Thanks. :)

Terry B May 5, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Thanks, Baobabs! Apricot preserves will work with all kinds of savory dishes—and all members of the onion family. I’ve even mixed apricot preserves with curry powder and red onions for my Pork Chops with Sweet Curried Onion.

Lindsay, one of the great things about puff pastry is that it’s infinitely adaptable to just about anything you want to put on it. If you want to go more savory, you could sauté some mushrooms and garlic in butter and add a little brandy and let it almost complete evaporate. If you want to go desserty sweet, the Intertubes will give you a staggering list of recipes to choose from. But don’t write off the leeks, goat cheese and apricot preserves out of hand. It was wonderfully delicate and not too cheesy or oniony.

Caroline @ French Ponytail May 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm

This kind of recipe is exactly up my alley – I’m also a big fan of the sweet/savory combo (e.g. caramelized onions & old cheddar, blue cheese & fig, goat cheese & red pepper jelly, etc. etc. etc.). I love the addition of leeks, which are seriously one of the most underrated of vegetables.

Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood May 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Goat cheese + apricots. Wonderful combination. Wonderful.

Cynthia Fox-Giddens May 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm

A yummy recipe with so many good flavors to incorporate. I like the apricot preserve on top. As always, your photo is delightful!

Terry B May 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Caroline—I totally agree about leeks. Every time I use them, I wonder why I don’t do so more often. Thanks for commenting, BTW—you helped me find your entertaining blog.

You’re right, Culinary School!

Thanks, Cynthia. With the other flavors being so nicely subtle—the goat cheese, the leeks and the puff pastry—the apricot preserves added just the right brightness to everything.

Easy Picnic Recipes May 10, 2011 at 7:24 am

OMG! What a delicious looking tart! I wanna eat this :)

Diane Epling May 11, 2011 at 3:26 am

I’m an apricot girl, all the way. I tend to shy away from baking for the same reasons you’ve mentioned, but I’m willing to face the oven for these.
Enjoying your blog.

Kaukab’s daughter

Yulree May 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm

“For some reason, though, one particular recipe caught my eye recently, and I thought, “I’ve got to remember this. I’ve got to bookmark this.” Of course, I did neither.”

I do that alllll the time! :D
This post just reminded me how awesome frozen puff pastry is. Excited to come across your blog.

Pierre May 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Make your own goatscheese!

its very simple to make your own : 500ml of regular pasteurized full fat milk, 500 ml goats milk. 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.

Add the milk together, throw into your favorite pot, bring the mix to almost boiling, but not quite. (bubbles start appearing on the side of the pot) Remove from the heat, add 2 tbsps vinegar and leave untouched until entirely cooled.

strain through a cheesecloth, season with salt and herbs and leave it for an hour, or longer if you prefer it a little dryer.

Voila, home made goatscheese!

sara January 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm

These look amazing! I didn’t manage to put up any apricot jam last summer, but I bet peach jam would be tasty too (plus this is a good excuse to make some apricot jam next summer!). What a great combination of flavors!! :)

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