Flaky crust! Marzipan-like filling! Juicy, fruity topping! These mini crostatas/pies have it all. (Except for a suitcase packed with a million dollars in small bills. They don’t have that.)
While I call these mini, they’re not really mini-mini, meaning that you could probably share one with someone you like at the end of a vegetabletastic kind of meal, or turn it into a small comfort food type of meal in and of itself by eating one small(ish) pie alongside a tall glass of cold vegan milk while watching your favorite TV series with your feet up and a furry friend curled up next to you, if available. And willing.
I like to use apricots instead of plums when the season is right. My mom is to blame for the insane love of apricot pies that I have. We used to do what I mentioned above and replace an evening meal with a small individual apricot pie when we were all younger, and it was the kind of thing that always made me a dance-the-jig kind of happy.
Almond Plum Mini Crostata Pies:
Nonstick cooking spray
150 g (1 1/4 cups) whole wheat pastry flour
48 g (1/4 cup) organic turbinado sugar or organic evaporated cane juice
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) neutral-flavored oil
Plain or vanilla-flavored vegan milk, as needed
60 g (1/2 cup) almond meal
2 teaspoons cornstarch
55 g (1/4 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon) organic turbinado sugar or organic evaporated cane juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 teaspoons plain or vanilla-flavored vegan milk
400 g (14 ounces, or 4 medium) quite firm plums, pitted and cut into thin wedges
To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Lightly coat 4 cups of a muffin top pan or 4 individual 4-inch (10 cm) pans with cooking spray.
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Process until no large sugar crystals remain, if using turbinado. Add the oil while pulsing to combine. Add just enough milk for the dough to stick together easily when pinched, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time, as you hit the pulse button.
Form the dough into a ball, and divide it into 4 equal portions. Roll out each portion of dough into a circle measuring a generous 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter.
Transfer the disks of dough to the prepared cups. If the dough tears a little during the transfer, simply patch the holes with your fingers.
Note that if you aren’t in the mood to roll out the dough, you can simply press down each portion in the prepared pan(s) without missing a beat.
To make the filling: Place the almond meal, cornstarch, and 48 g (1⁄4 cup) of the sugar in a food processor. Process until no large sugar crystals remain, if using turbinado. Add the extract and milk while pulsing to combine. Divide the filling among the 4 crusts, about 1 heaping tablespoon (28 g) of filling per crostata.
Crumble it evenly on the bottom of each crust and press down a little.
Divide the plum wedges among the 4 crusts (one plum per crust, really), one pointy end of a wedge centered in the middle of the crust, and each wedge slightly overlapping the previous one. Carefully fold the crust overhang over the filling. Sprinkle each top with a scant teaspoon sugar.
Line the oven rack with aluminum foil or a baking sheet just in case the juice from the fruit should escape. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the plums are tender. Carefully remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool, because the crostatas are at their best when fully cooled. They will also remain fresh and crisp when tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Yield: 4 crostatas