If you haven't yet picked up a tartlet pan, honestly, I don't know what you're waiting for. They are so cunning—fitting the most perfectly sized desserts for a hungry one or a generous two—and they can't cost more than a few stacks of well-saved quarters.
Plus, they tend to inspire a lot more dessert making, which in my house, is always a welcome thing.
Last night, it was grape crisp that caught the pan's attention. We had only a few grapes, a half cup at best, but a vision of grape pie and an already dough-lined pan. We heated pulp and skins, added a bit of sugar and a dash of lemon juice, and sprinkled over-top a good heap of oats and sugar and butter and flour.
What I pulled out of the oven—a violet, steaming engine, bubbling with Concord juice and hot, streaming butter—surpassed even the highest of tartlet expectations. Don't wait too many nights to make your own; between the season and the birds, the blue grapes won't last many more.
CONCORD GRAPE CRISP
Makes 6 tartlets
Remove and save the skins from 5 cups grapes. Heat the grapes in a small saucepan until they come to a boil. Boil gently 5 minutes, then press through a colander or food mill to remove seeds. Add skins to pulp, and let stand several hours.
Line the bottom of 6 tartlet pans with a thin layer of pie crust. Add 2/3 cup sugar, the juice of 1 lemon, and 5 tablespoons flour to the grapes, stir well, and distribute the fruit mixture evenly between each tiny pan.
For the topping, stir together 1 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, and 3/4 cup white sugar. Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter with a pastry cutter. Grate the rind of 1 lemon and add zest. Stir topping well and spoon over top of fruit.
Bake with tartlet pans atop a cookie sheet at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until crisp topping is golden brown. Enjoy hot, or cold the next day for a breakfast treat.