Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts

Mushroom_and-Onion_Marmalade_TartsThese Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts are something I made when I catered cocktail parties. Those parties were a lot of work but also a lot of fun – lengthy discussions on menus, researching and brain storming recipes, finalising menus, compiling shopping and prep lists, food ordering and shopping, scouring charity shops and department stores for serving props, prepping, cooking, serving and enjoying the party later! I used to do this around my son’s nursery  and bedtime schedules and had to be so incredibly organised – lists were my best friends! Always requested as the first canapé to every party were the Bloody Mary Cherry Tomatoes – vodka and worcestershire sauce infused cherry tomatoes served with a rosemary dipping salt – it was a real ice-breaker and got everyone mingling. I would blithely churn out things like seafood stuffed rice paper rolls with a dipping sauce, hot and sour lamb with peanuts on cucumber, lettuce cups with Thai inspired beef salad, saffron mussels on garlic bread, pear and blue cheese galettes, garlic  mushrooms with lemon risotto, mini Christmas puds, lemon curd tartlets  – all made impossibly tiny, dainty and beautifully presented. A friend recently requested this recipe (from a party that took place 12 years ago!) and I was so pleased that I still had some gorgeous mushrooms left in my veg box from Sutton Community Farm to make them with.


Mushrooms cooked with garlic and thyme with a squeeze of lemon is one of my favourite ways to eat them which I do so rarely because my son is really not a fan of the fungi. This recipe is a riff on that together with some gooey caramelised onions with a topping of melted gruyere cheese ensconced in a crisp, buttery bread case.

They are quite easy to put together and can be made ahead earlier in the day to pop in the oven just as your guests arrive. The Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts also re-heat successfully as I found out when I took this batch round to a friend’s house last night. If you are making huge quantities of them for a party, then use a food processor to chop the onions and mushrooms (separately) to speed things up. Don’t be alarmed at the mountain of chopped mushrooms – these will swiftly cook down. You need that squigdy white sandwich bread for the bases – because that type of bread is so soft, it crisps up beautifully in the oven. You should get 2 bases out of each slice – going over the bread a couple of times with a rolling pin helps to stretch out the slices if they are just a little too small. These tarts are best made in mince pie tins as these are shallow and wide.

First the onion are caramelised, then the mushrooms are added and cooked down. While this is going on, the bread bases get stamped out and buttered and placed in the tin. Once the mixture is ready, the cases are filled, topped with cheese and baked for 10-15 minutes. They are very tasty indeed!


Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts

  • Servings: makes 12 tartlets
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from a recipe by Celia Brooks Brown for the Independent Magazine


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion sliced fairly thinly into half moons
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 175g mushrooms chopped quite finely
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 6 slices of large white sandwich bread
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 75 – 100g gruyere cheese, grated


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy bottomed frying pan over medium low flame and fry the onions gently until they start to colour.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the sugar.
  4. Add the tablespoon of butter and then the mushrooms and thyme. Fry gently until mushrooms are soft and have released their moisture. They will reduce down quite a fair amount.
  5. Stir in the parsley and garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.
  7. Stamp out two 3 inch circles from each slice of bread. If the slices aren’t big enough, go over them a couple of times with a rolling pin.
  8. Brush one side with melted butter and place buttered side down in a mince pie tin.
  9. Press into the pan – I use the end of a rolling pin to do this but anything small and flat will work like the bottom of a small jar or glass, for instance.
  10. Divide the mixture evenly between the bases- approximately 1 ½  – 2 tsp per tart.
  11. Top with the grated gruyere cheese  (they can be made ahead to this point) and bake for 10-15 mins until golden and bubbly.
  12. Remove from the tin and place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess butter. The buttered bottoms lend themselves to slipping out very easily from the tins.
  13. Serve warm as a canapé or as part of a tapas style first course.





42 thoughts on “Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts

  1. Wow, Selma, a lot of work indeed! Did you know what you were letting yourself in for when you first started doing those events? I ask because know someone who has just started canapé catering and it sounds… Exhausting. The amount of work that goes into those lovely little mouthfuls! And my, yours do look lovely, I’ll be trying these out I think!


    • I think the first party I did was for about 25 – 30 people and for a really good friend – so the numbers weren’t huge and I knew all the guests, many of whom pitched in on the night and helped to serve and tidy up. It was only as I started catering for between 80 – 100 that I started to realise the enormity of the task! It’s all about making lists and timetables and staying organised. Now, I would definitely hire people to assist me, serve and clean up! I tried to aim for a mix of labour intensive like the lemon risotto stuffed mushrooms and easy like white bean topped crostini so that it wasn’t too frantic at the event. Whatever I could prep beforehand I did and transported in labelled food bags so that they didn’t take up too much room and were easy to pick out for each canapé. I used to cater lunches and dinners too – those were sooooo much easier!


    • I used to be wiped out the day after an event but as I said in a comment below, it was all about being super organised with lists and timetables and a good mix of easy and labour intensive items…


    • Hi Sonal – thanks for the lovely comment – when I have people round for dinner, I prefer to skip the first course and serve 4 or 5 different sorts of canapés instead. It means that I can spend more time chatting, everyone mingles and it all seems much more convivial and jolly!


    • It had to be what I call plastic bread – the kind that is soft and clumps together when pinched!! The bread base trick is a good one. You can trim off the crusts, flatten with a rolling pin, smear with mustard and cheese and roll up cooked asparagus or ham, brush with butter and bake to have another quick pantry led canapé…


  2. Beautiful tartlets, thanks, from the sisterhood of burnt out caterers!! Seriously hard work, not just planning and cooking but lugging stuff back and forth and working in less than ideal conditions, I loved every minute, but looking back now I’m retired I don’t know how I did it!


    • You said it! Carting everything around was not fun! That’s why I used food storage bags wherever I could, to save on space and weight! I have no idea how I did it now, with a toddler round my ankles and no car as I don’t drive!


    • Hi Shanna – it is a lovely little mouthful and so easy too. Yes, it just goes in soft and emerges 10-15 mins later burnished and toasted. You could fill the bases with all sorts of things really as long as the filling isn’t too wet. xx
      PS – there is a new series out here on the BBC called The Musketeers – I think, well actually, I know that you will like it…


  3. Pingback: Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tarts | Just Garnished

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