I went to my 40th class reunion last weekend “back home in Indiana”. (Hearing that song always make me cry. Extra credit if you know what event I’m watching when I hear it.)
Not only was the idea of renewing school friendships more interesting because of Facebook and the rewired connections it makes possible, but I also couldn’t wait to visit my older brother and his wife, sleep in Grandma’s farmhouse (where he lives), and eat their garden-fresh produce and farm-raised beef.
I felt some stress about the whole occasion because I hadn’t seen these people for 20 years. So of course, I picked what I hoped would be the perfect dress for the occasion after trying on at least 10 different outfits and 83 pairs of shoes. I scheduled a hair appointment 2 days before we left home to make sure my botox bangs were freshly trimmed and no tattle-tale gray was peeking out from the edges of my hair line. Then oddly enough, when I looked in the mirror Saturday morning, I had sprouted a zit in the middle of my face. Appropriate– don’t you think? Perfect for reliving the angst of the high school experience. Ugh!
No matter. I had a great time visiting and reminiscing with old friends. Thanks to the organizers who did a great job.
Speaking of old friends, these chocolate ganache mini-tarts are a new version of a Pinterest favorite from this blog, Fruit and Cream Mini-Tarts. The cooked custard filling has been replaced with an unbelievably rich, chocolate and truffle-like mixture. It’s so easy, it’s almost embarrassing when people give you compliments.
The tart shells themselves are a little trickier but practice helps. If you are planning these for an important occasion, I highly recommend you do a trial run with the crusts. Since your molds or containers may be a slightly different size than mine, it’s hard to be specific about how many tarts the recipe will yield for you. I get 12-13. By the way, I bought the pink silicone tart molds at World Market. They still sell them and I HIGHLY recommend buying several. I use them all the time for many different recipes. They are the perfect size and nothing, and I do mean NOTHING sticks to them.
Whenever assembling a tray of party desserts, I love to make small portions and do a variety. It’s fun to make some of the crusts chocolate (recipe included below) and some vanilla (recipe here). Both have their fans.
Unlike tart shells with a cooked cream filling, shells filled with ganache can be prepared 2-3 days ahead.
Garnish the top with whipped cream and chocolate curls or shavings. Or make it simple. Use fresh fruit to add color and interest. Either of these should be added at the last minute.
- 1-1/4 cup unbleached flour
- ¼ cup dark, unsweetened cocoa
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold butter
- 1 large egg
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- ½ cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- Add first four ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well blended.
- Cut butter into 8 pieces. Add to dry ingredients and pulse until mixture looks like oatmeal.
- Use fork to break up and mix egg, then pour it all at once into the food processor bowl. Pulse 5-6 times to begin to moisten mixture. Let machine run steadily for a few seconds. Watch carefully until mixture begins to stick together and starts to form a ball. Machine will make a different sound as this happens.
- Press dough into a cylinder (like a roll of refrigerated cookie dough), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30-45 minutes or up to a week.
- When ready to make crusts, cut cylinder into 12 equal slices. I usually end up with 13 tarts because I roll all the scraps together to make the 13th shell.
- Roll each slice between plastic wrap until just slightly larger around than tart shell. Dough should be just shy of ¼ inch thick and a consistent thickness throughout. This can be a little tricky at first. Practice makes perfect.
- Cover and freeze mini-tart shells until rock hard.
- Place tart shells onto a cookie sheet. Cover the inside of each tart with foil pressed to fit down inside. Bake in preheated 400 degrees F oven for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 2-3 more minutes.
- Cool for 5 minutes. Remove crust from pan or mold. Fill when completely cool.
- Chop chocolate and place into a deep bowl.
- Heat cream just until it starts to boil, then pour over chocolate and let sit for several minutes until chocolate has melted.
- Use a whisk or spoon to begin stirring in lazy circles starting from the middle until mixture is uniform. Don't go crazy stirring or chocolate will lose its beautiful gloss. A gentle motion is good.
- Add butter in small pieces and continue mixing gently until ganache is once again uniform.
- Mixture should be thick enough to go straight into the crusts, but if runny, refrigerate for a few minutes until it thickens.
- Chill tarts until ready to serve. Remove 30 minutes before serving to allow filling to soften a bit. Garnish with fruit or whipped cream.
Ganache may be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Warm very gently. I put it in a small bowl inside a larger bowl partially filled with hot water until it softens enough to spoon into baked crusts. Re-chill before serving.