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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chocolate tarts

Every and any holiday dinner with my Dad, it is a requirement that I make my apple crumble. However I also find it a requirement to make another dessert, preferably with chocolate for my non fruit eating Husband.   I rifled through my many baking magazines to see what I could create...cookies, brownies, bars, cheesecake, tarts?  Yes, Tarts!  The recipe I found was actually for a s'mores tart that had a graham cracker base, chocolate pastry cream and a marshmallow meringue on top, however I wasn't in the mood for a marshmallow meringue so I choose to do my own Christmas spin.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tarts

Adapted from Cuisine at Home, Holiday Baking

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  •  3 oz hazelnuts, toasted & skinned (1/2 cup)
  • 9 2 1/4 x 5 inch graham crackers
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Pastry Cream 

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp hazelnut syrup or liqueur, divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 2 oz each bittersweet and milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

My Variation

  • 3 oz praline pecans
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oz mint chocolate chips
  • Small handfull mini eggs

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Make the Crust : Preheat the oven to 375F.   Put the hazelnuts, graham crackers and 2 tbsp sugar in a food processor and run until fine.  With the processor running, drizzle in the melted butter.   Divide the mixture evenly amoung eight 3 inch tart pans with removable bottoms.  Press the crumbs up the sides and press the bottoms with a flat object similar to a cheesecake base to make the firm crust,   Bake the tartlets crusts for 10 min and then let cool.


2) Make the Pastry Cream : Whisk together the 2 eggs, 2 tbsp hazelnut syrup, cornstarch and salt.  Set aside. Heat the milk and sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until steam rises. Gradually whisk in both chocolates until melted and fully combined with milk.
3) Whisk half of the heated mixture into the egg mixture; return the chocolate egg mixture to the remaining milk chocolate mixture in the pan.   Continue cooking on medium heat, whisking often until it thickens.    Boil for 1 more minute constantly whisking to avoid scorching.
4) Stir in the 2 tbsp butter and remaining hazelnut syrup.  Divide pastry cream evenly amoung cooled crusts.   Let tartlets cool to room temp, cover them with plastic wrap touching the filling to prevent a film.



MY VARIATION:  I did make a few tweaks based on what I like and had in the cupboard.
1) My crust variation involved pecan pralines instead of hazelnuts.   Good call # 1.
2) My pastry cream variation involved removing from the hazelnut syrup/liqueur, although I do enjoy amaretto since I removed the hazelnuts from the crust, I just decided to go with just pure vanilla extract.   I also did use all milk chocolate.   I used semi-sweet chips for some and then mint chocolate chips for half.   After the cream  thickened I split the mixture in two and added some mint chocolate chips and stirred until they melted.  Once it was all combined then I added that mixture to some shells and the non mint to the other shells.
3) My topping variation:  Instead of the marshmallow topping, I added some of the crushed mint chips to the mint tarts and some Christmas mini eggs to the plain chocolate tarts.

Another great dessert. I think this crust could have lots of possibilities, especially in a cheesecake.   The praline pecans are a great addition to the typical graham crust.   I am oddly not a big mint chocolate fan but the rest of the dinner table gave them a thumbs up.    You can pre-bake the shells and cream and cover them with saran wrap overnight if needed or to save time on a busy night.   An interesting thing I am finding about this blog is that when I start to write about something I baked I begin to think of all these other variations I could do.  Lots more tarts to come, I guess.....

MEG's RATING: D-EEE-LICIOUS!



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