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Blog

Filtering by Category: chocolate

Chocolate Raspberry Tarts

Patricia Reitz

One of my favorite ways to feature fresh, juicy raspberries is to use them to top decadent individually-sized chocolate tarts.  Such an impressive presentation, but so very easy to pull off.  Let me show you how easy they are to make.

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First, start with a batch of pate sucree (sweet dough) that's been chilling for about 30 minutes.  Press the pate sucree into mini tart pans (these are the ones I have).  I love individually sized desserts, and these are small enough to enjoy all by yourself, but they're not too small to share with someone special.

Now it's time to "bake them blind", which may sound really weird to someone not familiar with the technique, but basically it's partially baking the pie crust.  We do this by lining the tart crust with crumpled parchment paper (crumpling helps it easily fit the contours of the tart), then fill it with a variety of things that will 1) conduct heat, which will allow the crust to bake, and 2) keep the walls of the tart from slumping during the baking process.  

You can purchase metal or ceramic pie weights made specifically for the purpose of blind baking, but there are several substitutions you can use - dried beans, uncooked rice, or even granulated sugar.  Dried beans that have been used for this purpose can no longer be cooked for consumption, but they can be reused again and again so I let them cool completely, then store them in a jar in the pantry for next time.  Rice and sugar will toast slightly, but can be used for other recipes - they'll get slightly toasted in the oven, which imparts a lovely flavor.

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See how the crumpled parchment is able to hug the contours of the tart?  Much easier than trying to do the same thing with a piece of flat parchment, believe me!

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Fill with beans (or rice, sugar, pie weights, etc).  Chill well while the oven preheats.  Chilling the pate sucree before baking helps to keep it from shrinking during the baking process.

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After 10-15 minutes, the sides of the tart will be set and you can remove the parchment and its contents.  You can see how the sides have lost their shine, but the bottom of the tarts need more time in the oven so return them for another 10 minutes or so.

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You'll know they're done when they look dry and are firm to the touch.  Set aside to cool while you make the ganache filling.  

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To make the ganache, heat cream until just before it begins to boil.

Pour over your chopped chocolate and let it sit, undisturbed, for a few minutes.  Then whisk together until smooth.

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Pour the ganache into the baked tart shells.

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Chill for at least 15 minutes before adding the raspberries so they don't sink into the chocolate. 

When you're ready to serve, sprinkle the berries with a little confectioner's sugar and remove the sides of the tart pan.

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Place the tart on something elevated, yet small enough for the sides of the tart pan to fit over.  Here I'm using an egg cup.  Using gentle pressure, push the sides of the pan down.  

Enjoy!

Items used to make this recipe:


Individual Chocolate Raspberry Tarts

makes 6 mini tarts (or one 9-inch tart)

Ingredients

Pate Sucree Crust:

Filling:

Garnish:

  • 3 pints fresh raspberries

  • confectioners sugar

  • mint sprigs

Directions

To Make Pate Sucree:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a BeaterBlade or flat paddle attachment, combine the ingredients until fully combined and no traces of dry ingredients remain.

  2. Wrap will with plastic and chill for 30-60 minutes.

  3. Divide dough equally between 6 individual tart pans with removable bottoms and press evenly across bottom and up sides; chill for at least 15 minutes (or up to several days if wrapped well with plastic).

  4. Preheat oven to 325F and line chilled tart shells with parchment paper filled with beans, rice, sugar, or pie weights.

  5. Place filled tart shells on silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the sides of the tarts are set; remove parchment and return empty shells to oven to continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the bottom crust is set.

  6. Allow tart shells to cool until while you make the filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl; set aside.

  2. In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before it reaches the boiling point (small bubbles will form around the edges).

  3. Remove cream/butter mixture from the heat and pour over chocolate.

  4. Let the chocolate and cream steep together for 2-3 minutes.

  5. Add the espresso powder and pure vanilla extract; whisk gently until smooth and shiny.

  6. Divide filling between tart shells, leaving 1/4-inch space at the top of each shell; chill for at least 15 minutes before adding berries.

To Serve:

  1. Top with fresh raspberries and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

  2. Carefully remove sides of tart pan as shown above, and garnish with fresh mint.

Simple Heart Cookies

Patricia Reitz

You don't need the skills of a pastry chef to make these adorable cookies - with just a few simple tools, you can make them too!  Follow me into the kitchen and I'll show you how it's done. 

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To begin, you'll need waxed paper, a rolling pin, rolling guides (1/8-inch and 1/16-inch thicknesses to make these cookies)....

How to make professional looking heart / Valentine's Day cookies with no skills! Recipe and how-to photos.

And fondant plunger cutters.  The large heart cutter is available in this set, and the small one came from this set.  If you want a large heart that can be personalized to say anything, check out this set.

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You'll also need some good quality fondant.  Some of the brands available in my area that I like are satin ice, fondarific, duff goldman, and fat daddios.  I do not care for wilton. 

I always keep white fondant on hand because I can custom color it any way I like, but it's also nice to keep darker colors on hand (red, brown, black) because it's hard to achieve the deep saturation mixing gel colors in manually.

(this isn't a necessary tool, but it sure is handy) 

When I'm working with large quantities of fondant, I keep it in a bread proofing box set at 90F (keeping the fondant sealed in an airtight container the whole time).  When I'm ready to work with the fondant, it's warm enough that I can roll it easily without first having to knead it until it's soft and workable.

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Love my bread proofing box from Brod & Taylor.  It's great for proofing bread dough, of course, but it has a temperature range of 70-120F, so it's good for making yogurt, melting chocolate, and keeping tempered chocolate in temper too.  The newest model has a temperature range of 70-195F.

Best cookie decorating hack ever!

Alright, while the fondant is still warm and soft, roll it out between two layers of waxed paper (1/16-inch thickness) and use fondant plunger to cut shapes and imprint designs.  

How to decorate cookies with fondant

Remove scraps and allow fondant shapes to sit at room temperature until needed (they'll firm up as they rest).  Do this step before baking the cookiesbecause you'll want them ready to go when the cookies come out of the oven.

Check out this clever way to use fondant plunger cutters.

For the cookies:  roll cookie dough between two layers of waxed paper (1/8-inch thickness) and use fondant plunger to cut out shapes (no need to imprint the designs here).

Note:  If the cookie dough cutouts get too soft to move without getting distorted, slide the waxed paper onto a sheet pan and pop it in the fridge to firm the dough before transferring the cutouts to a silpat lined half sheet pan to bake as directed (as shown in this graham cracker post I shared a number of years ago).

The easiest way to decorate cookies ever!

Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately place the prepared fondant cutouts on top. 

Cookie Decorating Hack for any holiday or occasion, with recipe and photos. Valentine's Day Cookies, Easter Cookies, Baby Shower Cookies, Christmas Cookies, Halloween Cookies, Fall / Thanksgiving Cookies.

As the cookies cool, the residual heat will melt the fondant cutouts just enough that they will bond to the cookies.   

Awesome cookie hack

Enjoy!

Items used to make this recipe:


CHOCOLATE CUTOUT COOKIES

makes 40-60 cookies

Ingredients

Directions

To make the cookie dough:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the BeaterBlade attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed for 30 seconds.

  3. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine.

  4. Add flour mixture and beat until incorporated.

  5. Remove dough from mixer bowl and wrap well with plastic wrap; chill for 1-3 hours.

  6. Preheat oven to 375F.

  7. Roll each dough portion to 1/8-inch thickness between 2 layers of wax paper.

  8. Cut out desired shapes with plunger cutters, without plunging the design into the cutout (dust cutter in flour if needed).

  9. Chill dough before transferring cutouts to sheet pan to prevent distorting.

  10. Place cookies 2-inches apart on silpat lined sheet pan.

  11. Bake for 6-8 minutes; remove from oven and top with fondant cutouts (cut to 1/16-inch thick) that have the design pressed into them.

  12. Cool completely before serving. Store in airtight container between with wax paper between layers.

Note:  Recipe makes 40-60 cookies, depending on size.  Plan to use about 1/2 pound fondant (I like to buy white fondant so I can color it any way I like).  Fondant cutouts can be made a day or more in advance if stored on wax or parchment paper in an airtight container.  If the cookies cool before fondant toppers are applied, you can warm the cookies for a few seconds in the microwave (but I recommend applying the fondant to cookies as soon as they come out of the oven).