Time: 45 mins, plus baking and cooling time.
Servings: 1 (9-inch) tart crust
Crisp, lightly sweet, and buttery, this classic pastry crust is an elegant base on which to build an entire repertoire of tarts. It's easier to make than flaky pie pastry, too--just stir melted butter with sugar and a bit of salt, then blend in all-purpose flour to form the dough. With your fingers, press it into a tart pan (no rolling necessary!), and let it hang out in the fridge for half an hour before pricking the bottom and baking.
Fill the baked and cooled crust with anything from Easy Chocolate Ganache topped with Easy Whipped Cream, to Lemon Curd and meringue, or Vanilla-Buttermilk Pastry Cream and fresh fruit. Jazz up the tart shell by adding the seeds from a vanilla bean or a tablespoon of citrus zest, or just follow the recipe for our Ricotta and Honey Tart or Chocolate Ganache Tart.
Special equipment: You'll need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Heat the oven to 350°ree; F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and stir until evenly incorporated. Add the measured flour and stir until just combined and a soft dough forms.
Sprinkle the dough over the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using a measuring cup or your fingers, evenly press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan (flour the cup occasionally to prevent sticking).
Cover the tart shell with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Once chilled, prick it all over with a fork and bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before filling and removing from the pan.
[Amy Wisniewski, Chowhound]