I'm a grazer. I know I'm supposed to eat three meals a day, but I'd rather take one bite of a million little things than sit down to a huge pot. Variety is, as they say, the spice of life. And my rapacity for variety is why I make an utter fool of myself at cocktail parties. All day, I save up with trembling anticipation for all the little bites I'm going to snatch and devour as they swivel past on silver trays, and I manage to spend more time chasing waiters than toasting the cause of the fête. A few months ago, I was balancing a hot sausage, a flute of champagne, and an imminent handshake—I ended up burned and stained. Je ne regrette rien!
These little tarts are inspired by pissaladière, from the sweet caramelized onions to the pastry crust (although pissaladière is usually made from a yeast, pizza dough-like crust, puff pastry is an acceptable alternative). But these are softer and sweeter, with the sweetness of the onions enhanced with caramelized brown sugar, and the tang of the fresh goat cheese grounded in the earthiness of thyme. They are crisp and gooey and sweet and savory. And while I do like a million little different bites, the day I made these, all the bites were identical—I ate the whole batch! Serve these with a Côtes de Provence, or a drink called La Piscine that I discovered poolside in Juan des Pins: champagne on the rocks. Bon app!
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 stems fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed, but very cold
- 2 ounces fresh chèvre (goat) cheese
In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the onions and thyme, and sauté, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
Add the sugar to the onions, and sauté another 10 minutes, adjusting the heat if the onions are turning brown too quickly.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Lay out the puff pastry, and use a 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter to cut out 9 puff pastry circles.
Arrange the pastry circles on a cookie sheet. Top with the onion mixture (remove the thyme stems!), then top with chèvre. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.
Garnish, if you like, with the stingiest drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and more fresh thyme.