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sweet starts

Recipe: dark chocolate tartelettes

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone! Gong Xi Fa Tsai! Jing Nian Quai Le!

It is the year of the Rat and in case you didn’t know, it’s Peabody’s year. Last year was the year of the Pig, which was my year. Since I made it through more or less in one piece, I’m going to assume that I was working the good juju. Peabody tells me she’s sharing the good juju with me into this year. I love that girl. In turn, let’s just say good juju all around for everyone! I sincerely wish each of you everything your heart desires in the new year – health, happiness, luck, fortune – all of it and more. xxoo

I began my morning quite early because I was behind schedule on making dumplings. Well, let me explain why. I spent yesterday telemark skiing with a bunch of awesome tele babes on the mountain. I felt well enough to tele all day with my D70 in tow too.

a bluebird day

janet does the balloon drill

my group: the advanced tele babes

our kickass instructor

At lunch, I discovered that my hair was starting to fall out. So after the program, I hauled my butt down to Boulder and had my head professionally shaved. [The nurse advised against doing at home since cuts and infections are potentially dangerous due to low blood count and compromised immune system.] People had told me how traumatic it was to lose their hair in clumps over a period of 2-3 days, so I promised myself I wouldn’t allow it to be drawn out. I’ve never been a girly girl who cared about being feminine or pretty or whatever – as long as I can kick ass, I’m good to go. But I will admit that it was a little disconcerting. I never realized how thick my hair is – brrrr! By the time I got home it was 6 pm and time to make the big hot pot soup and then I was pooooped.

So that’s my lame excuse for why I was behind schedule on dumplings, but the skiing was totally worth it. Jeremy and I had some sweet pastries for breakfast since he’s not a fan of Chinese sweets and I didn’t feel like making any. I cranked out several dumplings and cooked them up and stuffed a few into him before he left for work.

traditions: mandarin oranges, dumplings, rui tsai and a hong bao (red envelope)

I also hung the Chinese character fu (luck) upside down on our front door. The literal translation is that luck is upside down – dao, but in Chinese the word for upside down sounds like the word for arrives, so it means “luck arrives”.

a pic from last year because I don’t feel like shooting the current one right now

I can’t help but do a few of the traditional things for the Chinese New Year as it is the biggest holiday of my Chinese culture. Halloween is my favorite holiday, but Chinese New Year is the most important holiday to me. The Lunar New Year represents family to me more than any other time and we are to remember and honor our ancestors too. It is also when I miss my sister most because she used to call me every Chinese New Year’s Eve to ask what foods she should prepare so little Ben will grow up with our family’s Chinese traditions. She isn’t my ancestor, but I remember and honor her all the same because I loved her so very much. Jeremy was so kind as to clean The Entire House last night as we aren’t supposed to clean the house for the next 2 weeks starting on New Year’s Day – something about sweeping out the luck. Anyway, we’re both thrilled about that directive!

Right! So all of this Chinese tradition is great, but I know what makes my guy happy and one of those things would be chocolate. To be honest, chocolate makes me happy too – not eating it, but working with it.

hot cream and chopped chocolate

I still had leftover crust dough from that Daring Baker’s Lemon Meringue Pie Challenge and wanted to use it up. Jeremy seemed to enjoy the crust and I figured some little chocolaty somethings would be nice.

adding espresso

Do you ever get a cookbook and then forget about it and then rediscover it and feel like a kid on Christmas Day? It’s like that 20 dollar bill that you find in some random pocket months later… Well, Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking caught my eye this afternoon and her recipe for Deep, Dark Chocolate Tart matched up with what I had in mind sans the crust (I’ll bet it would be awesome with her chocolate short dough). So I snarfed the ganache filling and made a half batch.

pouring the ganache

I baked the little crusts and had to press the top mold down pretty hard because this dough has a tendency to rise. I definitely prefer short dough to this and will use it next time. When the crusts cooled, I filled them to the brim with the soft ganache and then let them set up in the refrigerator for an hour.

piping whipped cream

Whipped cream is such a pleasant and easy topping to work with. I also love how it contrasts with a deep, velvety, rich chocolate both in color and texture. I added a bit of sugar, vanilla, and a little almond extract because I like how almond and coffee and chocolate play off one another. Just for a little spice, I sprinkled the tartelettes with some ground nutmeg.

a little something sweet

Jeremy was quite delighted to open the refrigerator this evening and see a plateful of these cuties. But they weren’t all for him, as I requested that he take some over to our neighbors (and good friends) to wish them a happy new year. I think sharing is one of the things I love about baking.

2-inch rounds of happiness

Dark Chocolate Tartelettes
[print recipe]
ganache from Sherry Yard’s Deep Dark Chocolate Tart (The Secrets of Baking)

note: I highly recommend using a short dough instead of the crust recipe I list here. A short dough is flakier, crispier, thinner, and sweeter than the crust from the Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. Plus, it will behave better (no shrinkage) especially if you are using petits fours molds or tart pans. Just be sure to stack a second mold on top even if using short dough. Also, I only made a half batch of the ganache, but I’m listing the ingredients for the full recipe.

¾ cup cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
⅓ cup ice water

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 tbsps unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsps brewed coffee or espresso

whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

For the crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes. Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling. If using petits fours molds or small tart pans, I prefer to roll the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to less than 1/8 inch and pressing it gently into the mold. Stack a second mold on top and press down. Leave the second mold in place. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the top molds, and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and gently pry the crust out from the mold and let cool on a rack.

For the ganache: Finely chop the chocolate and place in a medium heatproof bowl along with the butter. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute. Use a rubber spatula to gently stir the contents until completely blended (don’t stir all crazy-like though, because you will introduce air bubbles which will make your tart look diseased). Add the coffee and stir until well incorporated. Pour the ganache into the tart shell(s) and place in refrigerator to set for an hour.

For the whipped cream: Place ingredients in a bowl and whip on medium speed until frothy. Increase speed and whip on high until stiff peaks form (or soft peaks, if you prefer the floppy effect). Garnish tart(s) with dollops or pipe using a pastry bag.

32 nibbles at “sweet starts”

  1. manggy says:

    Those tarts (or.. pies?) are beautiful, Jen! Sooo shiny.
    I’m glad you have good humor about your hair loss; those America’s Next Top Models practically lose their sh*t at the thought of “looking like a boy” or whatever.
    Happy New Year again! Here’s hoping the next 2 weeks of dust will not be too bothersome :)

  2. linda says:

    I love Sherry Yards book and the deep dark chocolate tart looks tempting in it.
    Your tartlets look delicious. How was the nutmeg on top?

  3. Ellie says:

    Happy Lunar New Year to you! :) The tartlettes look AMAZING, the little whipped cream shapes on top are perfect against that smooth, glossy ganache!

  4. Bridget says:

    I’m so glad that you have the energy now to ski all day. That rocks. Also, good thinking on getting your hair cut off – I can imagine that having control over it is much better than feeling helpless as it falls out in clumps.

    It looks like the tartelette dough held its shape relatively well – the fluting is really well defined and looks great.

  5. Stickygooeycreamychewy says:

    Beautiful tartelettes, Jen. You can never go wrong with chocolate ganache. I have Sherry’s book too and I really enjoy it.

    I’m sorry about your hair. My next door neighbor is going through the same thing. She hosted a “head shaving party” a few weeks ago. She’s a strong, beautiful woman too and she wanted to take charge. My secretary just finished 7 weeks of chemo and radiation and barely lost a strand. Who knows how these things work? The good thing is, it’s only hair and it grows back.

    I love the skiing shots. We went skiing in Beaver Creek last year for the first time ever. I was a disaster, but at least I had cute clothes. Someday, I’ll tell you about my concussion! ;)

  6. Christine says:

    Can you imagine – I don’t think I’ve ever made a chocolate tart (at least, I can’t remember right now). I didn’t know that the only baking part was for the crust – how silly of me. These tartelettes look like the perfect size too. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    What a lovely spread you had for New Year’s. I’m glad you made your own veggie dish and can blog to tell about it :)

  7. brilynn says:

    I haven’t been skiing at all this year even, other than cross country, looks like a fun day! And those tart are gorgeous!

  8. Nicisme says:

    Eating these would make me very happy! Looks like you had a great time on the slopes – I can’t imagine doing it with a balloon though!

  9. Rachel says:

    Happy New Year! I’ve been a lurker for a while, I make your candied orange peels on a weekly basis as now I’m addicted to them. To my dismay, I usually skim for the recipe while skipping the text. So, belatedly, I would like to tell you how courageous and inspiring you are for sharing your journey through breast cancer while making kick-ass food. I will keep you in my thoughts and freakin’ start reading more than drooling. Take care and know that you have a big fan/ supporter just outside of Seattle (fairly close to some great skiing, too).

  10. Kalyn says:

    Jen, I am just loving your blog and trying to send you good health thoughts whenever I read a post. Your positive energy through this experience is just inspiring.

  11. ashley says:

    these look decadent!

  12. Food Rockz Man says:

    Free your heels and your mind will follow! Get some turns in for me. I miss the northern Rockies of western Montana, where I lived and played for five years before ending up in snowless DC.

    I love the action-cooking photos. Do get an assist from someone, or cook with one hand and release the shutter with another? I need to start doing some action shots, but I’m almost always cooking alone. Any tips you’re willing to share? Thanks and happy new year!

  13. Maja says:

    Jen, your posts are totally inspiring. I loved your story about the chinese new year and your mom mailing the food, i told it to my boyfriend, it was too beautiful to keep inside. And congrats on your new style and your overall attitude to life. :)
    The tartelettes look perfect, and i know what you mean about baking and sharing, it’s just the most rewarding thing. :)
    Oh, and also: great skiing photos! I was skiing a lot when i was little, but only this year i started missing it, seeing your photos just makes me more determined to get back on the mountains.
    Have a very happy and healthy new year, i’m crossing my fingers for you on the other side of the world!

  14. Maryann says:

    Great shots here. Love the group photos with everyone smiling and the tarts look heavenly. Happy New Year!
    Stay strong :)

  15. peabody says:

    Alright, you are making me blush.
    I have fun times with my thyroid where I lose clumps of hair. One time while I was teaching I was playing with my hair and a HUGE clump came out. Luckily, I was one of those crazy teachers that always wore strange hats. So I threw on a oversized Sombero and the kids paid no attention(I didn’t want them to freak out). I went to the hair dresser and they said they couldn’t get me in. I threw down my clump of hair and they said…we will find someone. They did. I still had some what of mullet hair for awhile…but I play hockey so it was okay. :)
    Let me just say that I am all on board with the not cleaning the house for 2 weeks.
    Good looking bunch of snow buddies.
    The tarts look awesome too.

  16. Kevin says:

    Those look really good. Nice photos. The chocolate looks nice and shiny.

  17. Hannah says:

    Happy new year to you, and what an excellent way to start it! The tartlettes are simply stunning and look completely professional.

  18. Rasa Malaysia says:

    Jen – Inspired by your Chinese dumpling post, I made mine yesterday. So delicious…thanks!

  19. Annemarie says:

    I cant imagine what your normal energy levels would have been like because your skiing-cooking-celebrating-blogging would tire me out on even one of my better days. Those tarts are things of beauty and wonder. :)

  20. Gretchen Noelle says:

    What yummy looking tarts! Thanks for being real about real life. I am sure not every moment is easy to face, but it sounds like you are doing the best you can. Continuing to pray for you…

  21. Woolly says:

    They look amazing… I will be making them for my next dinner party!

  22. jenyu says:

    Mark – thanks hon! There’s really no point in freaking out about the hair, eh? Far worse things could be happening (well, they have, but you know what I mean :) ) I can live with the dust ;)

    Linda – the nutmeg was pleasant and subtle! I liked it.

    Ellie – thank you and gong xi fa tsai!

    Bridget – you are so right about the hair. It’s definitely more about taking control so you don’t feel like this thing has taken over your life :)

    SGCC – yeah, it seems that treatments vary depending on the type of tumor and many other factors. I get to have the “aggressive” treatment :) 7 weeks, wow – I have 18 weeks with my next treatment on… you guessed it, Valentine’s day *snort* Oh well, it’s nothing to get our panties in a wad over ;) Wooo, Beaver Creek? I haven’t been there yet, but I hear it is NICE. We can trade concussion stories! I hope you were wearing a helmet (I was, but I still lost my hearing and vision for a few minutes). xxoo

    Christine – I don’t believe you haven’t made one. Aren’t you required to make one in order to live in France? ;) ha ha, thanks about the veggie dish. Maybe I will mail some to you next year *wink*

    Brilynn – thanks… and get out to the mountain to ski!

    Nicisme – we couldn’t either ;) but it’s a good drill!

    Rachel – wow, you should get an award for making candied orange peels weekly. I think I’d go nuts ;) Thanks for your really sweet thoughts. Seattle is a FANTASTIC place (we almost moved to Bellingham instead of near Boulder) and I have some really good friends out that way. Lots of quality people in that area :) xxoo

    Kalyn – you give me far too much credit, hon. Thanks though. It’s the food blogging community that really inspires and keeps me going – folks like you! xxoo

    Ashley – yup!!

    Food Rockz Man – w00t! Montana is some beautiful country. I love it there (why did you LEAVE?!) As for the photos, Jeremy is my taste tester and occasionally I’ll have him hold a remote flash if he’s walking by, but mostly I use a tripod. It is as essential as a lens when shooting food. Remote shutter release or timer release is also your good friend. It gets to be a pain in the butt when you’re shooting action indoors with remote flashes though… cause I’m a lazy bum ;)

    Maja – you are so sweet. Thank you and I wish the very best for you too this year and always. I do hope you’ll get out and ski – it’s very good for the soul :) Well, it’s good for my soul! xxoo

    Maryann – thanks love.

    Peabody – damn, lady! You are so tough. I love it. I’ll drop you a line about boosters soon. xxoo

    Kevin – thank you, sweetie.

    Hannah – thanks and I wish I could have sent you a few!

    Bea – I’ll come check it out!!

    Annemarie – ha ha ha, you are so cute. I have to admit that I’m generally hyper-active (you should meet my parents!) and busy for me is VERY GOOD :)

    Gretchen – that’s really kind of you and I should point out that wonderful folks like you make each day worth doing. xxoo

    Woolly – super easy to do ahead of time too! Just go for the short dough instead of pie crust dough – much better (and you can make the shell thinner so you can fit more chocolate filling in!)

  23. Woolly says:

    I have been told I am mess in the kitchen. Food tastes great, but my presentation is horrible. The last meal I attempted was Lobster stuffed Salmon pinwheels, cooked on a cedar plank. Everything was going great until the plating (also had a hell of a time stuffing and pinning them). So I might not get a fancy finished product like yours but I am sure that they will taste great… oh and would I be a horrible person if I used the store bought pre-made crust?

  24. jenyu says:

    Woolly – I think if you use a pre-made crust, you may want to make a large tart instead of small ones. The crust will make you insane with small tartelettes. I also think a short dough crust is muuuuuuuch better than pie crust. Once you make the tart with pie crust, you’ll know what I mean. Short dough is a finer crumb, sweeter, and can be pressed thinner in the small tarts. I think it tastes better and I prefer the texture. And if you make the chocolate short dough crust – mmmmmm. Good luck! And as for presentation, I love to play with food and make things look pretty, so that’s one of my many odd obsessions. You should remember that taste is far more important than looks – so you’ve go the important part down! :)

  25. Isabelle says:


    Wow, those tarts look gorgeous. May I know how many of them the recipe yields?

  26. jenyu says:

    Isabelle – Hi, it was a long time ago. I know I made at least 12, probably closer to 15 since these were small.

  27. Alli says:

    Hi, I made the lemon meringue tartlets and they were a huge hit. I’d like to try the dark chocolate now. Do you have a recipe for a short dough crust?

  28. jenyu says:

    Alli – I have a chocolate short dough here: but in general, you can enter the search term in the Search Field at the top right of the main urb page…

  29. Gail says:

    Ohhh man this chocolate ganache filling is the best! Will definitely make them again as it is so easy to make.

  30. Chocolate tartelettes | Hungry says:

    […] do was baking the tart dough and make the ganache. We used the dark chocolate ganache recipe found here. The ganache has a very deep taste as there is some coffee added into the ganache. Very delicious. […]

  31. Chocolate tartelettes | Hungry says:

    […] do was baking the tart dough and make the ganache. We used the dark chocolate ganache recipe found here. The ganache has a very deep taste as there is some coffee added into the ganache. Very delicious. […]

  32. Matea says:

    I checked out Sherry Yard’s “The Secrets of Baking” yesterday from the library. I love her style of baking and teaching and can’t wait to try her recipes! And then tweak them and make them my own (I can’t help experimenting!) Her deep dark chocolate tart recipe caught my eye (the one this post recipe is based off of) and I can’t wait to try it. I think strawberries and/or raspberries would make a great topping for it!

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