Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Skillet Tarts

Recipe for cheesy sweet onion tarts in a buttery pastry crust.

In the realm of favorite food smells, it's hard to top the aroma of onions caramelizing in a pan. Not only does it bring me right back to childhood, because my mother believed sauteed onions made everything better, but it makes me instantly hungry. All onions are capable of doing this but it would be such a shame to pass up the sweet summer onions while we have them. I want to caramelize them all!

Recipe for cheesy sweet onion tarts in a buttery pastry crust.

So, one of my onion batches was destined for a cheese sauce which I assumed I'd pour over pasta. But, then I thought, why not just bake it like a gratin? I would definitely do this with the pasta so why not without. I made my favorite simple, all butter, savory crust and didn't even bother with any fancy crimping. Just layered it into mini skillets and poured in the cheese sauce. It baked up perfectly into a firm but still creamy filling. Sort of a quiche without the eggs. And the combination of Gruyere, onions and thyme is everything you ever loved about French onion soup but in tart form. Lunch, brunch, dinner with a salad. You'll have this one on repeat. Enjoy!
Yield: 4 Servings
Author: Anita Schecter
Recipe for cheesy sweet onion tarts in a buttery pastry crust.

Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Skillet Tarts

Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 1 Hourinactive time: 1 HourTotal time: 2 H & 30 M
Recipe for cheesy sweet onion tarts in a buttery pastry crust.


For the Crust:
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour plus an extra 1/4 cup for working
  • 1 Stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 - 3 Tablespoons ice water
For the Caramelized Onions:
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Sweet onions, peeled and thinly sliced
For the Filling:
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups whole milk
  • 1/4 lb. Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. To make the crust, add the flour, butter and salt to either a stand mixer or food processor. Mix just until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in the ice water until the mixture mostly comes together and turn out onto the counter with the remaining flour. Knead slightly into a dough ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. While the crust is chilling, caramelize the onions by heating the butter and olive oil in a large skillet or, ideally, a cast iron pan. Add the sliced onions and cook on medium heat, stirring often, for about 30 to 40 minutes. The onions should be soft and light golden brown. If they start burning, just lower the heat for a while and continue stirring.
  3. When the onions are done, remove them to a plate and make the filling by melting the butter in the pan and then whisking in the flour until fully incorporated. On medium low heat, whisk in the milk until all the lumps of flour are gone. Stir in the cheese, thyme and nutmeg. Continue cooking and occasionally stirring for about 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Stir in the caramelized onions and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Cut the dough ball into four equal pieces and roll each one into a 5" circle. Drape over 4 1/2" cast iron skillets. Add an equal amount of the filling into each skillet and bake for 50 - 60 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust is a light golden brown. Serve warm.
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