Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dark Chocolate Tartlets

One thing that's definitely worth living for ... at least that's how this household views it. Hands down, the tartlets have become the favorite dessert around here, as hard as I try to come up with a new winner. And I don't feel all that guilty (in fact, not at all) about indulging (in moderation -- i.e., small portion sizes) since it's not the typical 2-sticks-of-butter tart crust. The crust is just as delicious as the chocolate filling, as a tart crust should be, but the two together are a match that rivals even professional bakeries (I swear).  
This seems like a long post, but please don't think this is complicated. There are few ingredients and the steps are simple. Just some additional explanation is needed to present various options available for your chocolate pleasure.

The Crust:
All credit for the crust goes to Heidi Swanson, author of several awesome vegetarian cookbooks and of the 101cookbooks blog. The crust is from her Yogurt Tartlets recipe which can be found on her blog. She fills her crust with a yogurt filling. I got the idea to fill it with dark chocolate. I think the ingredients she combines are pure genius. I also think pairing it with chocolate was one of my better ideas (please, cooking gods, send more, many more, my way!).
In Heidi's crust recipe, she includes butter or olive oil as options for the coconut oil. I haven't tried those because I like the coconut oil so much. She also lists 2 tbsp of natural cane sugar as optional, which I've yet to include because I think it's perfect without it.

The Filling:
The ganache filling allows for a number of variations. Since I particularly like the flavor combination of coconut oil and dark chocolate, I like to use those ingredients in my filling. Hubby, on the other hand, can only take so much coconut oil (which I can understand). So I make his with heavy cream (or butter, depending on which I have on hand). I also like salt (fleur de sel) sprinkled on mine -- which also helps distinguish my tartlets from hubby's.

Size Options:
There are many options as far as the type of pan to use. For a time I was making these using 4-inch tartlet pans (with removable bottoms), and that worked just fine. But that really makes for too large a serving for one person, and splitting it in half got tiresome. So I decided to make them into smaller servings using the same dessert pan (with 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" square inserts) I've mentioned in other posts. I've even used a mini-muffin pan before to make tiny tartlets.

Especially during the warm seasons, I store these in the refrigerator. The filling is pretty solid like a candy bar right out of the frig, but it doesn't take long to come to room temp and soften to your liking.

First, a quick cooking of the crust ingredients on the stovetop:

The crust after baking:

Mixing heavy cream with chocolate (filling Option 1):

Will it ever come together?

Yes, it will!

Microwaved choc with coconut oil added (filling Option 3) is in the bowl on the left; heavy cream/choc (filling Option 1) is in the bowl on the right:

The heavy cream filling is slightly darker (right) than the coconut oil filling:

I like mine with fleur de sel on top, but either way is equally awesome:

Tartlet Crust
(from Heidi Swanson's blog)
Note: This recipe makes enough crust for six 4-inch tartlets or twelve 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" squares (dessert pan, which I used in photos above), and would probably fill a 9-inch tart pan.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp coconut oil (unrefined, extra virgin, unprocessed)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, oats, and salt in a medium bowl. Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add the maple syrup and stir. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes (you'll get a bit of a toasted smell). Lastly, stir in the sesame oil and remove from heat.

Let the mixture cool a bit (enough so you can work it with your fingers). Divide the mixture into whatever pan(s) you're using and press and flatten it out in the bottoms and up the sides a bit (enough to hold the filling). Bake the crust for 10 or so minutes. The baking time will depend on the pan you're using. (It took about 10 minutes for my dessert pan. It took longer for the 4-inch tartlet pans.) It will be done when it starts to get barely golden (lightly toasted). Remove and cool completely. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Dark Chocolate Filling
Note: In the photos above, I made half (6 tartlets) using Option 1 (4 ounces of chocolate + slightly-less-than 1/4 cup of heavy cream + 1 tbsp brandy), and half (6 tartlets) using Option 3 (4 ounces of chocolate + slightly-less-than 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil +1 tbsp brandy).

Option 1 (Heavy Cream):
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 60%)
1/2 cup (slightly less) heavy cream
2 tbsp brandy, bourbon, or other spirit (optional)
Chop or otherwise break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan on stove over medium-low heat, then pour over the chocolate. Stir/whisk the mixture until it's smooth, then stir in the brandy.

Option 2 (Butter):
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 60%)
6 tbsp unsalted butter (use more or less, to your liking), room temperature
2 tbsp brandy, bourbon, or other spirit (optional)
Note: There are several methods out there for melting chocolate and butter together. I like the microwave oven method because it's quick and easy, but any will do.
Cut up the butter into small pieces and set aside. Chop or otherwise break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave-proof bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Let sit (in microwave oven) for 4-5 minutes, then microwave again for about 20 seconds. Take out and stir. (If it's not continuing to melt as you stir, you can microwave for another 5-10 seconds.) Then add in the room-temperature butter and stir until smooth and combined. Then stir in the brandy.

Option 3 (Coconut Oil):
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 60%)
1/2 cup (slightly less) coconut oil, melted (unrefined, extra virgin, unprocessed)
2 tbsp brandy, bourbon, or other spirit (optional)
Melt the coconut oil on low heat on stovetop, then set aside. Use same method as in Option 2 to melt the chocolate. Add the coconut oil to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Then stir in the brandy.

Putting It Together
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and while the chocolate filling is still warm and runny, spoon it into the crust(s) and spread it evenly. Sprinkle fleur de sel (or other coarse salt) on top as desired (totally optional). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it hardens to your liking.


Coconut Oil Fan said...

These tarts look so good. Of the three filling options, do you have a favorite?

Kristen said...

I like both the coconut oil and the heavy cream fillings the best. The heavy cream filling is a beautiful dark color and seems a bit creamier in texture. But since I love the taste of coconut oil and choc together, I like that one too. I would love to hear how it turns out for you, and what you think.