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Caramelized Onion Tartlets

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These tiny onion tarts are made with frozen puff pastry, which you can find in the freezer section of most supermarkets. The pastry is very easy to work with, and it turns golden brown and puffy when it bakes. Be sure to thaw the puff pastry according to the package directions before using. Don't try to unfold puff pastry that's not completely thawed, as it will tear the sheet. Sometimes you can purchase puff pastry fresh from a local bakery or specialty food shop.

The recipe calls for kalamata olives, which are brine-cured, black Greek olives packed in vinegar, but any good-quality, cured olives will work nicely.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Makes 36 tartlets

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17 1/4-ounce package), thawed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, thinly sliced

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 12 1/2-inch square, then trim the edges to form a 12-inch square. Prick the pastry all over with a fork. Cut into thirty-six 2-inch squares and transfer to the prepared baking sheets, arranging them about 2-inches apart.

2. Bake the pastry squares for 12 to 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Transfer them to a rack and cool until just warm.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the thyme (1/4 teaspoon if using dried), salt, and pepper. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.

4. Lightly brush the tops of the pastry squares with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Make a small indentation in the center of each square with your finger, then top each with 1 teaspoon of the onion mixture and a few olive slivers. Sprinkle the squares with the remaining teaspoon thyme (remaining 1/4 teaspoon if using dried) and serve right away.

Puff Pastry Notes:

• Volumes can be written on the attributes of puff pastry and all of its sweet and savory applications. It can be made into pastry cases for all kinds of filling and in many shapes and sizes, free standing pastry decorations, hors d'oeuvres, cookies, and wrappings for fish, meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables.

• The quickest way to thaw puff pastry is to separate the sheets, cover each with plastic wrap and leave on the counter (away from the oven) at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

• Once puff pastry is thawed, work quickly while it's still cold.
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