Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gizzadas -Jamaican Coconut Tarts

Caribbean cooking is a medley of Indian,French,African,American,British etc.Each Island or country in the Carribean is influenced by its population.Be it Jamaica,Belize,Cuba etc,each have developed their own cuisine which is influenced by the flavours and techniques of the immigrant population.One of the popular Jamaican desserts is Gizzadas or mini tart shells filled with sweet coconut filling.These are also known as 'pinch-me-rounds' as the pastry requires pinching/crimping the edges to obtain a container shape which is filled and baked.I found a adaptable recipe from here though it seems several slightly different versions are available.

Tart Shell
AllPurpose Flour: 1 cup
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Cold Unsalted Butter: 3 tbsp
Ice Cold Water: 1/4 cup + few tbsp


Coconut grated : 1 cup+
Brownsugar: 1/2 cup+
Nutmeg: 1/2 tsp
Water: 2 tbsp
Butter: 1 tbsp

Tart Shell:
In a bowl whisk together flour and salt.Cut cold butter/shortening/margarine into this and mix well till it resembles coarse sand.Add in 1/4 cup of cold water and form a dough adding more water as needed.It took almost 6 tbsp of water for me.Once the dough is formed,cover it in a plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.If using salted butter,add salt accordingly while forming the dough.

In a lightly floured surface,roll out the chilled dough into 1/4 inch thickness or as thin as possible.Using a cookie cutter or any other round container (roughly 4 inches),cut out circles from the dough.Form a casing/container from each circle by pinching together the edges of the circle.Bake in a pre heated oven at 350F/175C for 10-12 minutes after placing the casings/tart shells in a lined/greased baking sheet.

This is a difficult process and it took some time for me.You can also use a muffin tin/pan for obtaining the tart shape or use any other method though the above method is used traditionally.Also the baked shells can be freezed for a later use.The recipe yields almost 8-10 tart shells.

In a pan,mix together all the filling ingredients and cook on low fire till the flavours blend and mix becomes almost dry and butter completely blends with coconut.This takes just a few minutes.I actually made filling with half the recipe as I was not sure how it will turn out.But had to make a second batch later.

Assembling the Gizzadas:
Once the filling and shells are ready,it time to combine them.Take each shell,put spoonfuls of filling inside and place it on a lined/greased baking sheet.Do so till all the filling/shells are used up.You can fill the casings completely or 3/4th or half or as per choice.

Once the shells are filled and ready,place them in the baking sheet and bake at 350F for 5 minutes or more until the coconut starts browning.

This is the way it is supposed to be done,though there can be variations.Like,since the filled tart is baked again,you can avoid cooking the filling items .That is simply mix the filling ingredients and then fill the shell and bake for 10-15 minutes or more until the filling gets cooked.Since I had already cooked the filling and made it almost dry,I simply baked the filled shell for 3-5 minutes only.Also if you do not like baking/cooking the filling,simply bake the shells till brown,then at the time of serving fill it and serve.You can go for a variety of fillings though the coconut one is traditional.For an Indian touch,you can go for cardamom along/instead of nutmeg.

The gizzadas are far from perfect,but very tasty.I expected them to be very flaky,though they are not so.I liked the crispy shell with a soft filling.If you like to make it more it crispier bake for longer time.Also reference Aparna's and Rachel's Gizzadas here.

After my last post,I was on and off blogging due to current,net and even health problems.Most of the issues have been resolved and you can hopefully see me constantly now.I missed several posts and was about to miss MonthlyMingle as well,but it seems the gizzadas are destined for MM:Caribbean Cooking hosted by Meeta


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