Like tarts, tartlets look difficult because they are so beautiful. In fact, they are easy to make because of their small size, and it is their size that makes them so appealing both to the cook and to whoever eats them. There is less dough to handle, and most of the shaping is done with your fingers. Dinner guests love dainty tartlets because they make perfect finger food, and because more than one is never enough!
Classic tartlet pans come in many shapes: squares, circles, triangles, even tapered ovals that look like little boats (called, appropriately, barquettes). Like full-sized tart pans, some have convenient removable bottoms. Tassies are homey tartlets shaped with the thumb in miniature muffin cups. They resemble thimble-sized tumblers, which could be a hint as to how they were named: tasse means "cup" in French.
Before they are filled, tartlets are fully baked and cooled. The crust is slightly crumbly, but will stand without the support of a pan. However, they are still very delicate; that is part of their appeal. Handle them carefully or they may shatter.
Filling Mini Muffin Pans
Form the dough into balls. Set a ball of dough into each muffin cup. To shape, press evenly into the dough with your thumb to create a shell.
Filling Tartlet Pans
Divide the dough into balls, then roll each out into a thin, round disc. Fit into the tartlet pan and trim as for standard tarts.
Spooning in the Filling
Let the baked tartlet shells cool in their pans on a wire rack. Arrange the baked tartlet shells on a serving plate and spoon in the filling.