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When it comes to a tasty combination of cream or fruit filling wrapped in a crusty pastry, the crostata is clearly a winner. As a form of tart that hails from Italy, the crostata cane be prepared with a variety of fruit fillings and made into any size that the cook desires. This means that the crostata can serve as a bite sized accompaniment to a freshly made sorbet or take center stage as a dessert plate sized Italian tart garnished with a glaze.
Crostatas have a status as being one of the premiere Italian pastries. Because the crostata can be made with just about any type of fruit filling, the pastry can be prepared with fruit that is in season, as well as any range of home canned preserves and even with canned fruits and jams that are purchased in the supermarket. The fact that the crostata may be prepared as an open faced dessert or be covered with a top crust allow this Italian pastry to easily adapt to all sorts of occasions.
One of the distinctive things about these Italian tarts is the crust. Crostata dough, referred to as pasta frolla, is rolled and flattened to form the bottom crust. For larger crostatas, using a pie pan is perfectly acceptable. The fruit or cheese filling is prepared and spread into the crust. At this point, the filling can be covered with a top crust as well. One way is to do a simple solid top crust, with a couple of vents to allow steam to escape during the baking. Another approach is to prepare a lattice work top crust, which adds visual interest to the tart. There is also the option of leaving off the top crust entirely.
The exterior of the baked crostata can be served plain, allowing these Italian tarts to stand on their own as a tasty sweet. For fruit crostatas that are left open faced, the addition of a dollop of whipped cream just before serving may be desirable. Cream or cheese filled crostatas with an open face might be enhanced with the addition of a little fruit, such as pineapple chunks. In like manner, the solid or lattice covered crostata can be served with no garnishes or with fruit toppings, whipped cream, or even ice cream.
Relatively easy to make and great for a family dessert or a sweet at a party, the crostata is a versatile sweet option that lends itself well to whatever type of filling is available. Recipes for various types of crostatas can be found at several recipe web sites on the Internet, as well as in cookbooks devoted to Italian cuisine.
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