Strawberry Chocolate Cream Tartlets (or, playing with my new toys)
Using my new mini cheesecake pan for the little lemony ricotta cheesecakes was only the start of the fun with my new baking supplies from pastrychef.com. Mini cheesecakes are great and all, but I was over-the-moon excited to try out my new tartlet pans!
For the past few years, I’ve looked longingly at tartlets — it doesn’t matter where; in bakeries, in pictures, on blogs, I just seem to be drawn to them — not just because I know they’ll probably be really tasty, but also just because they’re so darn cute! Having a little tartlet set in front of you for your dessert is like receiving a little present, complete with pretty fluted edges and usually a lovely decorative topping. I don’t know what it is about these little desserts, but they really delight me.
So, (after waiting far too long) I finally added some little tartlet pans to my collection, in two different sizes. I’ve made a few kinds for us over the past week (we’ve been in tartlet world here!) — and so far, two have won out as being big hits.
The first is this strawberry chocolate cream tartlet — I made a chocolate sweet pastry crust, filled the tartlets with some chocolate pastry cream from BFMHTY, topped it with some thinly sliced strawberries and tangy creme fraiche. The luscious pastry cream and sweet strawberries is a really delicious contrast to the crumbly, cookie-like crust — and as a bonus, I could just have the pastry cream and tartlet shells in the fridge, ready to go, then assemble them quickly after dinner.
After trying a few sweet pastry recipes, I settled on the one in Sherry Yard’s Desserts by the Yard — it’s really easy to work with and tastes really good, too (some of the other recipes I tried lacked a bit in the taste department.)
I used the chocolate pastry cream recipe in Dorie’s BFMHTY, and it was eat-directly-out-of-the-bowl-with-a-spoon worthy: like a luscious, thick, deeply chocolately pudding. Mmmmm.
After the crusts and pastry cream were made, all that was left to do was slice some strawberries, fan them out over the top, and dollop each tartlet with some creme fraiche (I actually cheated on the creme fraiche: I made “faux” creme fraiche by whipping some heavy cream and folding in some sour cream. Tastes just as good!)
Nothing like some new toys to play with in the kitchen for a little inspiration, right?
Strawberry Chocolate Cream Tartlets
Chocolate Sweet Pastry
From Desserts by the Yard
Ingredients (for 2 9-inch tart shells; I halved this recipe and it made quite a few 3.5 and 2 inch tartlets)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled
2 cold large egg yolks
3 tbsp very cold heavy cream
If you’re making tartlets, I found halving the above recipe gave me enough for a good amount of 3.5 inch and 2 inch tartlet shells.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to mix together the flour, cocoa, and sugar on low speed for about 1 minute. Add the butter and continue to mix on medium low speed until the pieces of butter are barely visible, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat for another 30 seconds. Stream in the cold heavy cream and continue mixing until the dough comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing on low speed for 1 minute further.
If you made the full recipe, divide the dough in half. Flatten each half (or, if you made half the recipe, the entire bowl of dough) into a disk about 1/2 inch thick and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
After the dough has chilled, you can make it pliable by breaking it into pieces and placing the pieces in the bowl of your electric mixer, then beating on low speed with the dough hook until it’s workable (if you don’t have a stand mixer, you can beat it with a rolling pin. That sounds like fun, right?)
Grease your tartlet pans, then roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness and cut out circles to fit inside the pans. Press the dough circles into the pans, making sure to press along the perimeters to get a snug fit. Chill the dough in the pans for 2 hours (or, if you get impatient like I did, stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.)
Bake the tartlets for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, until they’re a dull dark brown. Puffing shouldn’t be a problem with the small pans. Remove them from the oven and let them cool in their pans; once cool, remove them from the pans to a wire rack until you’re ready to fill them. (At this point, I stored some in the fridge wrapped tightly in foil. They weren’t quite as crisp the next day as the ones we ate freshly baked, but they were still good.)
Chocolate Pastry Cream
Ingredients (I made half this recipe for the tartlets; half the recipe made about 1 1/4 cups.)
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
pinch of salt
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits, at room temperatur
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.
Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well-blended. Continue whisking and drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk, to temper the eggs. Still whisking, add the remainder of the milk very slowly until it’s all incorporated. Continue cooking this mixture over medium heat, whisking vigorously and constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Once it reaches the boil, keep whisking it for 1-2 minutes more, then remove the pan from the heat.
Whisk in the melted chocolate, then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. Now whisk in the bits of butter, bit by bit, until they’re incorporated and the mixture is silky and smooth. Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl and keep it refrigerated (you can place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal, if you wish.)
a few tablespoons apricot jam, heated (optional — if you want to brush the strawberries so they glisten)
Creme Fraiche (or, make faux creme fraiche by whipping 1/2 cup heavy cream with a good pinch of sugar, then gently folding in 3/4 cup sour cream)
Mint leaves, for garnishing (optional)
Spread some chocolate pastry cream into each tartlet shell. Top with the slices of strawberries, overlapping them slightly so they fan out in a circle over the top. If you’re using the apricot jam, heat it slightly then use a pastry brush to lightly brush over the strawberries so they glisten. Top each tartlet with a dollop of the creme fraiche and a sprig of mint, if using.