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Chocolate Tartlets for Valentine's Day 

click to enlarge Chocolate Tartlets - ANDY BRUMBAUGH
  • Andy Brumbaugh
  • Chocolate Tartlets

Ganache. Just the word sounds luxurious. It's also one of the easiest chocolate confections to make. All you have to do is take good-quality chocolate, chop it finely and pour heated cream over it so that it melts. From this simple creation, you can make a rich and creamy cake filling, luscious chocolate truffles, a whipped frosting or, in this case, a perfect base for a chocolate lover's dream tart. You will want to use good dark chocolate; chop up a bar or buy high-quality dark chocolate chips. Just be sure to choose something that doesn't have ingredients other than chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter and milk. Use at least 53 percent cacao, but not more than 65 percent, as the ganache can get bitter. To make the filling less dense, I added an egg.

Mini desserts always make me happy. In this case, I made sweet little tartlets in special tart pans with removable bottoms. (I purchased a set from Amazon, but you might be able to find them locally at Kiss the Cook in Burlington.) I also tried making them in a plain muffin pan, and that worked, though they were a little more difficult to remove and weren't as decorative.

I decided to use pistachios in the crust, and my family all loved that addition. You could absolutely substitute almonds, pecans or hazelnuts. Topped with raspberries and an optional heart decoration made from freeze-dried raspberry powder and a simple homemade stencil, these tarts are the perfect way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

If you have extra ganache after filling your tart shells like I did, pour it into greased ramekins, and you'll have another luscious chocolate dessert to enjoy with fresh raspberries or whipped cream.

The best thing about these cute confections? You can easily deliver them to your friends and family to share the love, even if you can't be together. 

Chocolate Tartlets

(makes approximately 8 servings)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • ¾ cup (100 g) pistachios
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cup (163 g) flour
  • ⅓ cup (35 g) confectioner's sugar
  • ½ cup butter, cold
  • 1-1½ tablespoons very cold water

For the ganache filling:

  • 2 cups (12 oz.) dark chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg
  • freeze-dried raspberries
  • fresh raspberries for garnish

Directions:

To make the crust:

  1. Grind the pistachios and salt in a food processor or blender until they form a fine meal.
  2. Whisk together the pistachio meal, flour and confectioner's sugar.
  3. Using a box grater or a grater attachment to a food processor, grate the cold butter coarsely.
  4. In either a food processor or a stand mixer, mix the ingredients until just combined. Drizzle in cold water slowly while mixing, until the dough forms a ball that is workable but not sticky. You may need a little more water depending on your kitchen's humidity.
  5. Form the dough into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare tartlet pans or muffin tins by spraying with a thin coating of cooking spray.
  7. Separate the dough evenly into about nine pieces and press into the pans or tins (about ⅛-¼ inch thick). Trim any excess dough from the top to make a clean edge, using the leftover dough for additional crusts. For me, this recipe made six 4-inch tartlets and three additional muffin-tin tarts.
  8. Prick the bottom crusts a few times with a fork so air can escape while baking. Place on a baking sheet and put in the freezer for 15 minutes, then bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely before filling.

To make the ganache filling:

  1. Place chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a metal mixing bowl.
  2. Heat cream, either on the stovetop or in the microwave, until it is hot but not boiling (about 90 seconds in my microwave).
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, cover and let sit for 5 minutes before mixing.
  4. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate is entirely melted. Add the butter and whisk until incorporated. Finally, whisk in the egg.

To assemble:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Pour the ganache filling into the cooled tart shells until just under the edge of the shell.
  3. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until the filling just barely wiggles in the center.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until ready to serve.
  5. To garnish, if desired, make a heart stencil by cutting a small heart out of a piece of paper. Sprinkle freeze-dried raspberry powder over the stencil and lift carefully to reveal a heart design. Repeat for remaining tarts. Top with a few fresh raspberry halves.
  6. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature.

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