Classic caprese salad ingredients on super flaky almond flour pastry, drizzled with sweet, tart, balsamic glaze.
A good caprese salad is probably my all-time favorite appetizer. Whenever I’m dining out with my family and caprese salad is on the menu one of my daughters invariably says “I know what you’re having Mom”. Traditional caprese salads are made up of mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil, which, some say are meant to symbolize the colors of the Italian flag. The dressing is typically just some good quality olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. These beautiful tarts turn this classic salad from the Italian island of Capri into a delicious gluten-free appetizer with an updated dressing of balsamic glaze. If you’re a fan of caprese salads, you will LOVE Gluten-Free Caprese Tarts!
The main ingredients in any type of pastry are flour and fat. In Gluten-Free Caprese Tarts, finely ground almonds are the flour and coconut oil is the fat. Tapioca starch is also added to the dough for lightness and elasticity. The result is an incredibly tender and flaky pastry that makes a wonderful base for the caprese ingredients. If you’re familiar with gluten-free baking you’re probably aware of the challenges encountered when making gluten-free pastry. In a nut-shell, gluten (the protein found in wheat flour) is what gives pastry structure so when it’s absent, as it is in a gluten-free crust, the dough is much more delicate and difficult to manipulate. A gluten-free crust for a standard size pie has to be handled very carefully or it will tear. Fortunately, this isn’t an issue with Gluten-Free Caprese Tarts because the amount of dough you’re working with for each tart is only 3½ inches in diameter, which makes it much more forgiving.
Fresh basil is an essential ingredient in any caprese salad so Gluten-Free Caprese Tarts wouldn’t be complete without it! You can chiffonade the basil for this dish or just roughly chop it. I love the look of basil chiffonade and think the extra time it takes to cut the basil using this technique is worth it. “Chiffonade” is a fancy French word that means to finely chop something into long thin strips. You usually see this term used in connection with basil. It’s a simple technique that results in a prettier, more delicate looking herb and is especially appealing as a garnish. To chiffonade basil, stack the leaves (right side up), roll them up tightly like a cigarette, then slice them, perpendicular to the roll, into thin strips about 1/4 inch wide.
A great time-saving tip is to make and pre-bake the pastry circles ahead of time and then freeze them. When you’re ready to make the tarts, let the pastry circles come to room temperature (this should only take about 10 minutes) then simply top and bake them for 3-5 minutes. This makes Gluten-Free Caprese Tarts great for entertaining. Buon appetito!
- 1½ cups (170 grams) finely ground almond flour
- ¾ cup (85 grams) tapioca starch, plus extra for rolling out dough
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (85 grams) coconut oil, chilled and cut into 6 pieces
- ¼ cup cold water
- 4 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼ inch thick slices
- ¼ cup balsamic glaze (purchased or homemade - recipe in notes)
- 1 ounce fresh basil, roughly chopped or cut chiffonade style
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Whisk together the almond flour, tapioca starch, and salt. Cut in the coconut oil with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
- Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough comes together, leaving the side of the bowl cleanly. Gather it into a ball.
- Dust the counter or rolling surface with tapioca starch and roll out the dough to a thickness of ⅛ inch. Using a round cookie cutter, 3½ inches in diameter, stamp out circles of dough and place on parchment or silicone lines baking sheets. Prick the centers with a fork.
- Bake 7-10 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven. Place 3 slices of tomato on each tart and top with a slice of mozzarella.
- Bake for another 3 minutes, just until the tomatoes are warm and the mozzarella is slightly melted. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and garnish with fresh basil.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Place balsamic vinegar, coconut sugar, and a pinch of salt into a small sauce pot and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture is thick and syrupy and has reduced by half.
Store any extra in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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