Fingerfood is a brilliant way of entertaining at a party without being away from your guests. Most fingerfoods can be prepared well in advance and you can look all glam when serving them. One of my favourites - and the favourites of my friends are Onion & Goats Cheese Tartlets. You can serve them as starter with a normal tart size or serve them as fingerfood with small tarts. They are a hit either way - and so easy to make.
I recommend using young, rindless goats cheese - you want the cheese to compliment the sweetness of the onions and not overpower them. Iago in the English Market sells a lovely Crottin which goes perfectly with the onions but choose any type you like as long as it is young and mild. Also, when making your shortcrust pastry, exchange some of the flour with ground hazelnut - it gives the pastry another dimension which also goes well with the cheese and the onions (Denis Cotter of Cafe Paradiso used to serve it this way)
You will need
- Shortcrust pastry (enough to fill 2 tins of 12 hole muffin tins or 4 of 12 mini muffin tins)
- 4 Red Onions (thinly sliced)
- 4 heaped tbsp of brown sugar (soft dark goes well)
- 4 tbsp red wine vinegar or Balsamic
- Goats Cheese (mild)
Make the pastry and chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins. Preheat the oven to medium heat (about 160-180C).
In the meantime make the onion mixture. Heat some olive oil over a low heat. Add the sliced onion and let them caramelising slowly. Don't rush this stage as you want the sweetness and not the burned effect. When the onions are translucent (with slow cooking them, they won't get colour), add the vinegar and the sugar, mix well and let it get all jammy (that might take a while), stirring now and then to avoid it sticking to the pan.
Roll out the pastry and line the tin you have chosen. Blind bake for a few minutes (depending on the size of your tin - don't let it get too dark). Remove from the oven - at this stage you can leave the tarts cool and put into an airtight container and the onions into a sealed container and leave it for up to 2-3 days (don't assemble them if you don't use them within a few hours).
Divide the onion mixture between the tartlets and top with a small slice of the goats cheese - pop back into the oven (or under the grill for a few moments) and bake until the goats cheese has a slight browning.
Arrange nicely on platters and tell your guests that these are your specialty - they'll think you spend hours on them.