Thawing the frozen puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight will help prevent cracking while unfolding it. Be sure to use a low-moisture supermarket mozzarella sold in block form, not fresh water-packed mozzarella. If you prefer to do some advanced preparation, the tart shell can be prebaked through step 1, cooled to room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to two days before being topped and baked with the mozzarella and tomatoes.
- Unbleached all-purpose flour, for work surface
- 1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed in the box in the refrigerator overnight
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 ounces grated Parmesan (about 1 cup)
- 1 pound plum tomatoes (3 to 4 medium), cored and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- Table salt
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Ground black pepper
- 8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons basil, fresh, shredded
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Dust the work surface with flour and unfold both pieces puff pastry onto the work surface. Form 1 large sheet with a border, using beaten egg as directed. Sprinkle Parmesan evenly over the shell; using a fork, uniformly and thoroughly poke holes in the shell. Bake 13 to 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F; continue to bake until golden brown and crisp, 13 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack; increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
While the shell bakes, place the tomato slices in a single layer on a double layer pf paper towels and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Place a second double layer of paper towels on top of the tomatoes and press firmly to dry the tomatoes. Combine the garlic, olive oil and pinch each salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.
Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the warm (or cool, if made ahead) baked shell. Shingle the tomato slices widthwise on top of the cheese (about 4 slices per row); brush the tomatoes with the garlic oil. Bake until the shell is deep golden brown and the cheese is melted, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil, slide onto cutting board or serving platter, cut into pieces and serve.
FORMING THE TART SHELL:
Brush egg along one edge of one sheet of puff pastry. Overlap with a second sheet of dough by 1 inch and press to seal the pieces together.
With a rolling pin, smooth out the seam. Dough should measure about 18 by 9 inches. Use a pizza wheel or knife to trim the edges straight.
With a pizza wheel or knife, cut 1-inch strip from the long side of the dough. Cut another 1-inch strip from the same side.
Cut a 1-inch strip from the short side of the dough. Cut another 1-inch strip from the same side. Transfer pieces of dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with egg.
Gently press long strips of dough onto each long edge of dough and brush with egg. Gently press short strips of dough onto each short edge and brush with egg.
With pizza wheel or knife, trim excess dough from corners.
Recipe reprinted by permission of America's Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.
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