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double your pleasure

Recipe: double chocolate tarts

My in-laws were supposed to come out for a visit with us in Crested Butte last week, but had to cancel their trip at the last minute. When we host guests at our house, we pretty much clear everything off our schedule to entertain said guests. So we suddenly found ourselves with two days wide open and a little fresh powder on the mountain to enjoy.

and he did enjoy it

the clouds made way for a view of the town of crested butte below

Neva got to go for a couple of skate skis, an uphill ski on the mountain, and a run through our neighborhood up to the lake and back. All of this in addition to her daily training. She does rather well on paved paths and roads, but she is definitely more distracted on trails. Right now, we are toggling between snow and sunshine in the mountains, the trails in a constant state of melting out. I imagine that we’ll get to hit the real trail training with Neva soon, but until then, she’s doing alright. Meanwhile, the flowering trees are bursting with color down in Boulder and the rest of the flats. I must admit that the sight of that chartreuse spring green makes me a little giddy. I even opted for a trail run over a skate ski today, and found my first sign of local mountain spring.

the morning sun gets to work melting out yesterday’s snow

crabapple blossoms in boulder

an emerging pasque flower, the first to bloom in our mountains

In addition to the two open days we got as a result of the cancelled visit, we wound up with six extra chocolate tarts, which I had planned to serve as dessert. But chocolate tarts are easy enough to give away to neighbors. Go figure! This was the sixth batch of tarts I had made in the month of March. It all started when Eileen texted me as I was grabbing lunch in Steamboat Springs. She wanted to know if we’d be in Crested Butte the following weekend for a birthday dinner party for our friend, Wendy. It just so happened we WOULD be in town that weekend and was there something I could bring? Eileen suggested dessert, so I contacted Wendy’s daughters to get the scoop on her favorite flavors/desserts. Two things stood out: dark chocolate and raspberries. How about a dark chocolate tart with raspberries? Easy peasy, or so I thought.

cream, cocoa powder, flour, chocolate, powdered sugar, butter, more butter, grand marnier

I was fairly certain this recipe would work out, but I always make a point of testing a recipe before the real deal, just in case. Good thing I did. The crust, which seemed to behave nicely for just about everyone else in the world (it’s a recipe from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking), was a complete jerk. I suspect it has something to do with my high elevation, but it was quite frustrating to see it stick to the parchment during the blind baking. Luckily, I am friends with a lot of experienced and professional bakers – so I asked for advice on Facebook and got a slew of suggestions.

mix the flour and cocoa powder

beat the powdered sugar into the butter

add the flour and cocoa mixture

beat until just combined

wrap and chill

The recipe instructions called for docking the dough in the tart pan and then lining the dough with parchment paper, filling with pie weights, and blind baking the crust for 15-18 minutes. Then I was to remove the parchment paper with the pie weights from the tart shell and let it bake for another 6-10 minutes. This method resulted in half of the dough adhering to my parchment, leaving an anemic crust in the tart tin. People suggested not docking the dough, freezing the dough, using foil, buttering the foil, not blind baking, reducing the temperature, and on and on. What I found to work best for me was to dock and freeze the dough, use foil (buttered on the side that contacts the dough) and pie weights, and bake at the given temperature for a full 25 minutes or more until the foil released relatively cleanly from the crust. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.

roll out the chilled dough

line the tart tin with the dough

dock the bottoms

butter the foil

line the dough with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans

bake until the foil releases

Of course, all of my failed attempts were edible – they just weren’t presentable for a birthday dinner. When I eventually figured out the chocolate shortcrust, I was ready to make the 9-inch tart for Wendy’s party. The ganache filling is the easy part, as far as I am concerned. The original recipe flavors the ganache with two tablespoons of espresso. I swapped out the espresso for Grand Marnier, as I thought it had a better flavor profile to pair with fresh raspberries. Jeremy and I actually taste tested the two versions on some rejected tart crusts and agreed on the Grand Marnier. Turns out, it’s another one of Wendy’s favorite flavors!

add hot cream to chopped chocolate and a large pat of butter

gently stir

cool the ganache to 90°f

stir in the grand marnier

When the ganache is ready, pour it into your cooled tart shell or shells. Now, you might be tempted to remove the shells from the tart pans before filling them, but I recommend you keep them in the pans until you are ready to present or serve the dessert. The chocolate shortcrust is delicate and crumbly. It’s supposed to be. It should yield easily under a fork and have that crumbly, sandy, fragile texture. If you try to unmold it while empty, it will likely break or lose some pieces. The cooled ganache adds structural stability to the shell and holds it together. Once the tart is thoroughly chilled, it should be considerably easier to handle.

fill the shells

chill in the refrigerator for several hours

unmold the tarts before serving

cross section of the silky smooth interior

Wendy loved her birthday tart, as did everyone else who received test versions and extras throughout the month. It is especially nice with a raspberry coulis and some lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream. I’m not usually one with enough patience for this much recipe testing, but I’m glad this tart had excellent results, because it’s a real winner of a dessert for chocolate lovers. The tarts in the photos are 3 inches at the base and 1.5 inches tall (taller than the typical 1-inch high tartlet pan), which make them better suited to serving two people.

top with fresh raspberries

add a little zip of whipped cream

a well-tested double chocolate tart

Double Chocolate Tarts
[print recipe]
modified from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard

chocolate short dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, softened, but cool
1/2 cup powdered sugar
extra butter for the foil

chocolate ganache filling
8 oz. bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped 1/4-inch or smaller
2 tbsps unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsps Grand Marnier

Make the chocolate short dough: Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed for 2-3 minutes. Scrape the sides down and add the powdered sugar. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then scrape the sides down. Add the flour and cocoa mixture, beating on low speed for 30 seconds or until the flour is just combined. Press the dough together into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 1 month.

Bake the tart shell(s): Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap. For a 9-inch tart, it should be at least 11 inches in diameter. If making 3-inch tarts, cut out as many 5-inch circles as you can. The scraps can be pressed together and re-rolled. Line your tart pan(s) with the dough, pressing the dough into the corners and sides. If there are any tears, use scraps to patch them up. Trim the edges so they are neat and even. Dock (prick) the bottom(s) with a fork. Place the tart pan(s) in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F and move the rack to the lower third of the oven. Tear a piece or pieces of foil large enough to line the inside(s) of the tart pan(s). Butter one side of each piece of foil. When the tart dough comes out of the freezer, line the inside of the dough with the foil, buttered-side down. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Set the tart pan(s) on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 21-28 minutes, or until the foil releases from the dough without sticking. Let cool on a cooling rack. Remove the foil and pie weights and cool the shell(s) completely in the tart pan(s).

Make the ganache filling: Place the chocolate and the butter in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate, tapping the bowl on your counter or workspace to help the cream fill the interstitial space. Allow the cream to sit for a minute, then slowly stir from the center of the bowl to the outer edges. Continue to slowly stir (stirring vigorously will introduce air bubbles) until the temperature reaches 90°F (this took me several minutes) at which point the chocolate should be melted. Stir in the Grand Marnier. Pour the ganache into the cooled tart shell(s), filling them to just below the rim. Place in the refrigerator to let the ganache set uncovered (at least an hour if not longer). When the ganache has set, you can cover the tarts and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Makes a 9-inch tart or 4 deep 3-inch tarts (1 1/2 inches tall) or 6 3-inch tarts (1 inch tall).

more goodness from the use real butter archives

apple roses and spiced brown butter tart bakewell tart (db) huckleberry brown butter tarts lemon tart

16 nibbles at “double your pleasure”

  1. Kristin says:

    Oh, wow! I think I would be friends with Wendy. I loooove chocolate, Grand Marnier, and raspberries! So bummed spring break is over, and I really should wait until both kids are home in June to make this. Thanks for doing the testing for us and sharing the results!

  2. debbie says:

    I could definitely manage to eat a few of these! They look delicious!

  3. Christine says:

    The outdoor scenery and the tart are works of art! I can’t wait to try the recipe!

  4. Trisha G. says:

    So, Jen, I have to ask. Did the filled tarts come out of the molds easily? These look amazing, but I can just see mine lying in crumpled pieces all over the counter, even if I wait to unmold them until they are filled. Yours are a true work of art!

  5. Pam says:

    Oh my, need I say more!

  6. Jill Hyde says:

    Oh these look heavenly! Glad you had a couple free days, and hope the Senior Yu’s are doing ok. xo, jill

  7. farmerpam says:

    Looks so good.

  8. jenyu says:

    Kristin – Wendy is an easy lady to like :) Maybe you should test the recipe for yourself (ahem!) and THEN make it again for the kids ;)

    debbie – :)

    Christine – Thank you!

    Trisha G – Well, with some care, they did come out nicely. The trick is to carefully hold the edge of the tart mold while gently pushing the base up. This is probably the hardest part. You just want the crust to stop adhering to the mold’s edge. Don’t push too hard (the whole thing might fling out and break on the counter or floor), just enough to get it to separate. Once that happens, you can set the tin on an inverted (but sturdy) glass or jar and gently push the outer ring mold down. Hope that helps! :)

    Pam – :)

    Jill – My folks are well, thanks! Mom is recovering from pneumonia, but she is on the mend now :) xo

    farmerpam – Thank you!

  9. Marilee Bryant says:

    This looks heavenly. Please educate me as to why I should not use Dutch Process Cocoa in this recipe. I tend to use King Arthur Flour’s Triple Blend, which contains Dutch Process as well as Black Cocoa and Natural Cocoa. I’m wondering if I really need to go buy something else before I make this.

  10. jenyu says:

    Marilee – I originally wrote ” (not Dutch processed)” because the recipe didn’t specify and I assumed it meant natural. But now that I look at the recipe again, I realize that it doesn’t matter here (I’ll update). Natural cocoa is more acidic than Dutch-process cocoa, which won’t make a difference in something like this short crust dough, but for things that involve leavenings like baking soda or baking powder, it DOES matter which cocoa you use (because of the chemistry required to produce CO2 to make the baked good rise). Go ahead and use your triple blend, it should be fine in this recipe.

  11. Marilee Bryant says:


  12. Kristin says:

    Well, I should always read the post again before making a recipe. I removed the tarts before filling!!! The crust breaks if you just LOOK at it. We put them back in the pans to fill, and are hopeful that the filling will set up enough that it doesn’t ooze all out when we unmold to eat them. Based on the photo, I think we’re good. And, if it does, we’ll just have to lick the plates!!

  13. Cathy Pickard says:

    Try putting candied orange peel and chopped slivered almonds on top of the crust before adding the chocolate ganache. Yum! Decorate with some of the candied orange peel and grand marinier flavored whipped cream. Made it this way many years ago and have since lost the recipe.

  14. Ojive says:

    I don’t suppose you remember where you found your 3”/1.5” tart pans? I love the look of the tarts at those proportions, but I’m having a really hard time finding anything close to that size. The only ones I can find with a three inch base seem to be .75 inches tall maximum, so I suspect I’m searching in the wrong places…

  15. jenyu says:

    Ojive – I *DO* remember! I got them at Peppercorn in Boulder (on the Pearl St. pedestrian mall). They have a great selection of specialized baking and cooking tools. I had a hard time finding these anywhere else (perhaps Amazon may have them, but I’d rather support Peppercorn since they’re local). The .75 inch tall pans (which I also have) are horrible for this dessert because it’s mostly crust and not enough ganache. If you don’t live near Boulder, you can try calling Peppercorn to see if they will ship (or at the very least to see if they have them in stock to save you a trip). Good luck!

  16. Ojive says:

    That’s exactly what I thought about the .75 inch ones! They just seemed way too shallow. Fortunately I’m a local, so I’ll be able to make it to the Pearl Street Peppercorn no problem! Thanks so much for the tip!

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