It has taken me 75 minutes, but I have finally decided on which tartlet pans to buy. From the vintage Swedish Sandbakkelse tins to the fancy Norpro nonstick dark metal, I looked at them all. Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, Google shopper---I feel a bit like my grandfather. If he had lived to see the era of online purchasing, he would have been in hog heaven. So many opinions, so many options, so many possibilities. He was a man with a rare talent for garage-sale-ing, seeing the potential in what many would see as useless. He also enjoyed things that, well, do what they're supposed to do, and well. On of my favorite things of his (one of my uncles probably has it somewhere?) --it's an old thermos-shaped holder for styrofoam cups. Odd, yes, but it was always in the back of his truck, ready for a hot beverage if need be. It wasn't in the best shape, but it didn't need to be. The job was simple---looks didn't really count. Yet he lived for fifty-five years with a woman with three full sets of china and a whole cabinet full of things just there to look pretty. But that was their job. That was different.
So the question is---what job would these pans have? Look pretty? I mean, not really. I want to be able to use these for as many summer tarts as I can. Believe it or not, it's a pretty easy thing to make tart dough, smoosh it into molds (technical term), bake and cool. Then fill with fruit or whipped cream, curd or a custard - easy. So, these won't be staying in a closet, that's for sure. When I looked at reviews for tin-coated steel vs. dark nonstick, both online and in the trusty Bakwise by Shirley Corriher, I arrived at the conclusion that while tin is traditional, it rusts easily, especially with lots of use. (this can actually also be seen in all the sales of vintage tins, which all contain the caveat "some rust present").
My heart sighs with the beauty of these vintage tins, their rust spots...they are so cute. But I just don't need something I cannot really use, especially when there is an alternative so vastly superior if I want to make good tartlets. There are sometimes that old country anything would be great...but with tartlets, I don't think so. Modern smelting techniques and materials science, for the win.
So-- Amazon won out, with an expensive ($80) but life-lasting set of 60 mini-tartlet pans from Paderno. All of the tart pans I have are Paderno, and the quality is noticeable.
My first use for these lovely molds will be at one of the summer girl's nights I have planned. Upon writing down the things I really wanted to accomplish this summer, both spending time in the Penthouse and seeing girlfriends topped the list, so I went ahead and sent a list of fifteen summer girl's nights to my Cambridge ladies. Plans for the first one: rhubarb spritzers, goat cheese and rhurbarb compote crostini, and these almond pastry tartlets filled with (fingers crossed) fresh strawberries. Ah, summer, you're here.