2.11.14 Dark Chocolate and Pecan Tartlets
Well, here we are. It’s February, which is good news for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it means we are just a little bit closer to spring and therefore just a little bit closer to the end of this frigid, neverending polar vortex of a winter. At least in theory. But we’re being optimistic here. The other good news is that with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we have a good excuse to eat lots of chocolate. And that makes me very, very happy.
Like most people, I love chocolate. And I’ve had it on the brain since a visit earlier this month to Seattle, where I had the opportunity to tour the Theo Chocolate factory. And after smelling the delicious aroma of roasting cocoa beans, watching copious amounts of ganache being tempered on granite slabs, and tasting chocolate in pretty much every flavor you could imagine, I started going a little chocolate crazy. Since returning home, I’ve been trying to figure out some sort of delicious chocolate dessert to make. Which is both incredibly easy and incredibly hard. Easy to come up with a giant list of chocolate-filled ideas, hard to pick just one to focus on.
But at last, I think I have one. And it’s a good one too. Because who doesn’t love chocolate ganache? Especially when it’s spiced up a notch with some cinnamon and poured into a tiny, perfect pecan tart shell? Garnished with a sprinkle of sea salt, and you have the perfect little dessert for any occasion. Best of all, you can make a batch of these well in advance and have them on hand for whenever a serious chocolate craving strikes. And did I mention how easy they are to make? With just a slight riff on the basic pie crust recipe (more tips on perfect crust here), and a filling you can mix up in a matter of minutes, you’ll have a batch of tiny perfect tarts ready in no time. February’s not looking too bad.
Dark Chocolate and Pecan Tartlets
makes 12 tartlets
I’m a huge fan of the chocolate/chile combination - the flavors really complement each other, and I love the spice it adds. If you’re not as big a fan of spicy chocolate, don’t worry - you can get by without it and you’ll still and up with some very tasty tartlets!
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, cold
- 1 egg
- 1 oz water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips or 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp chile powder (optional)
- Sea salt for finishing (I used smoked Maldon sea salt)
1. Chop pecans in a food processor until they are completely pulverized, about 20-30 seconds.
2. Combine the pecans, flour, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Being careful to handle the butter as little as possible, cut the butter into small pieces, then add to the flour. Using your hands, work the butter into the flour until the pieces are small (about the size of a pea) and the mixture has a grainy texture.
4. Add the egg and the water (very cold) a little bit at a time, mixing until the dough is all incorporated into a ball. If 1 oz of water doesn’t seem to be enough, you can add a bit more, but add it a little bit at a time, and use the least amount of water possible to hold the dough together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15-20 minutes before working with it further.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a regular-sized 12-muffin pan.
6. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 12 equal pieces. Place one dough ball into each muffin well, and use your fingers to press dough out and up to cover the bottom and sides of muffin well evenly.
7. Bake tart crusts at 325 for about 40 minutes, or until they are beginning to brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove tart crusts from the pan and transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
8. Pour heavy cream into a microwave-safe bowl, and heat in the microwave for 60-90 seconds.
9. Add chocolate to the heated cream and stir until chocolate is fully melted in and mixture has a smooth, glossy consistency. Stir in the cinnamon and chile powder if using.
10. Spoon chocolate mixture into tart shells and refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 1-2 hours (you may end up with some extra ganache, but I have no doubt you’ll find some way to use it, if it even lasts that long). Garnish with a sprinkling of sea salt.