Goat cheese is a popular dairy product with a distinctive pungent flavor that has been prevalent for thousands of years. While the goat cheese tart is a slightly more modern invention, it is highly versatile and inclined to seemingly endless variations, so not being afraid to experiment may be one of the best tips. Other good tips for baking a goat cheese tart include starting with a good goat cheese tart recipe and high quality ingredients.
As with any tart, it all begins with the crust. Goat cheese tart recipes usually call for puff pastry, which can be a particular challenge for home cooks. Those short on time can purchase frozen or ready-rolled puff pastry, but the best results typically come from a homemade pastry shell.
The temperature of the ingredients is key when making any pastry shell. The work surface, the chef's hands, and the butter must be kept chilled. Running hands under cold water or briefly holding ice to keep them cool can be a helpful tactic. Once formed, it is generally best to refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight. This helps ensure that the puff pastry has a delicate, flaky consistency.
When the puff pastry has chilled in the refrigerator, a good tip is to pre-bake the pastry shell so it does not become soggy. Also, to help prevent it from puffing up, something hard and heatproof — such as a ramekin or a bag of beans — can be placed on the crust. When working with the dough, if it gets a bit too soft, it can be firmed back up by placing it the refrigerator again for a few minutes.
The next important tip is to use high-quality goat cheese for the filling, as it will be the primary flavor in the tart. The goat cheese works best at room temperature so it can more easily incorporate with the other ingredients. Usually, the goat cheese is combined with cream, eggs, salt and pepper. Herbs and sautéed onions are often added as well. Another important tip is to let the goat cheese tart cool before serving so the filling firms slightly.
Once the basic goat cheese tart recipe is mastered, it often is fun to experiment with variations. Popular additions include tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, onions, and mushrooms. Whatever is added, make sure to use high-quality, fresh ingredients for the best results.