High Country Baking: Dark chocolate tartlets
High Country Baking
We all need an emergency dinner party dessert … one we can turn to when we’re out of time and desperate. I’ve been collecting them over the years, and this is my current favorite. It’s ridiculously fast and easy, yet produces a last course that’s sophisticated, elegant and visually appealing. Tender tartlet shells — filled with rich, dark chocolate ganache — are complemented by a raspberry sauce and fresh berries. Present them plated or grouped on a single platter so diners can serve themselves. For a casual meal, omit the sauce and fresh berries, and invite diners to eat them out of hand. However you serve them, they’ll be well received.
You don’t even need an oven to make these if you use commercial baked tartlet shells; they’re located in the frozen baked goods sections and well-stocked bakeries of many grocery stores. If you can’t find them, frozen baked phyllo cups are a good alternative and readily available. Keep some in your freezer, and you’ve got a fine dessert whenever you need one. If you want to make your own shells, I’d be glad to send you my favorite recipe for them — just email your request to me.
For a different look, top the tartlets with a rosette of whipped cream or a drizzle of caramel sauce and a few chopped, roasted nuts instead of the berry sauce and fruit. The recipe doubles and triples with ease.
Dark chocolate tartlets
Works at any elevation. Make in 2-inch tartlet pans. Yields 6.
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso power
- 1 1/4 ounces chopped dark chocolate or 1/4 cup packed bittersweet chocolate chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
- 1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur or crème de cassis
- 1 tablespoon water
- 6 of your favorite baked 2-inch tartlet shells, commercial or homemade
- Fresh raspberries
If you’re using frozen commercial baked tartlet shells, thaw them following the directions on the package, and place them on a baking sheet or flat plate and set aside. If you make your own, cool them completely, place them on a baking sheet or flat plate and set them aside.
Make the filling: Pour the heavy cream into a microwave-safe cup measure or a small bowl with a spout and heat in a microwave oven until very hot, just short of boiling. Remove from the oven, add the instant espresso powder and the chopped chocolate chunks. Set aside for several minutes until the chocolate melts. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Carefully pour or spoon the chocolate filling into the tartlet shells, dividing it equally among them. Move them, on the plate or baking sheet, to the refrigerator to chill until they firm up, about 20-30 minutes. At this point, they can be covered and stored for several hours.
Make the raspberry sauce: Spoon the raspberry jam into a microwave-safe cup measure or a small bowl with a spout. (Use the same one you did for the filling and just give it a quick wash.) Heat it at a low temperature in a microwave oven until fully melted. Remove and add the tablespoon of liqueur or crème de cassis and a teaspoon of water. Check the taste and add more water if the alcohol is stronger than you like. Check the thickness; if it doesn’t pour easily, add more water or more alcohol, depending on your preference. Set the sauce aside until it’s cooled to room temperature, it will melt the chocolate filling if served while it’s warm.
If plating the dessert, set one or two filled tartlets on each plate, drizzle on some sauce, add a few fresh raspberries and serve. If diners will serve themselves, arrange the tartlets, sauce and fresh berries prettily on a platter and pass it.
Editor’s note: This recipe is a variation of one published in Cuisine Magazine.
Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at email@example.com.
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