sweet shortcrust pastry turtles
I recently wrote about making pastiera (here and here). In the first post I hinted at a way of recycling the leftover pasta frolla (or pastafrolla, sweet shortcrust pastry). My aunt Lucia used to make crostata (jam tart) and with the leftover pasta frolla she would make mini versions of the same dessert, i.e., crostatine (literally, small crostate). I (sort of) did the same. For the occasion, I used the sea turtle cookie cutter I had received for my participation to the adopt a creature campaign by Oceana.
The sea turtle (tartaruga marina) is my husband's favorite marine creature (mine is the spotted eagle ray). When we dive, he is always on the lookout for sea turtles. They are indeed, really cool creatures, elegant swimmers, noisy eaters, funny nappers.
After I rolled out the pasta frolla for the pastiera and used some extra dough to make the decorative lattice over the filling, I wrapped the remainder and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, because by then it was a bit too warm to handle. In the meantime, the oven had the pastiera in it. I rolled the pasta frolla and used my sea turtle cookie cutter to obtain the familiar shapes. I then placed them on a cookie tray lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, and finally spooned a bit of fruit spread on the top, making sure not to get too close to the edges, to avoid spillovers.
By the time I was done shaping the pasta frolla into turtles, the pastiera was close to being done. I had space enough in the oven to add the loaded baking tray. The baking time is 10-12 minutes and since it is easy to burn the crostatine, check after nine minutes and adjust the time accordingly1. When the crostatine are pale golden, they are ready. Take the baking tray out and let them cool undisturbed, as they harden in the process and if you try to move them too early they may break (they are still edible even though broken).
My aunt would make round crostatine, put some of her home-made jam in the center and then make a tiny version of the decorative lattice by crossing two short, thin strips of dough. I started doing something similar (see left turtle in the photo), but then decided that I liked the turtles better unadorned. Sweet, crunchy sea turtles for my husband, until the next time we can see real ones, in their natural habitat.
1 When I bake crostatine with crostata I check them after eight minutes, as the oven temperature is higher (375 F) than when I bake pastiera.