Easy elegance: Chocolate ganache is always in style
By MARGARET MAPLES More Content Now
Here's a delicious dessert that looks professional but is easy to make. It's the perfect finale to an intimate dinner, or a feast for a few special friends.
Our tart is inspired by a much-splattered entry in "Santa Fe Recipe," a 1989 collection of dishes from that city's restaurants. It popped up in a used-book exchange and I knew immediately, just from the chocolate smears, that this dessert is a keeper.
As prepared at Comme Chez Vous, a restaurant which has since closed, this dessert had a pecan crust and was assembled in a single pan. I reworked the recipe, switching to a pecan/walnut crust in four 4-inch tart shells.
For the filling, I experimented first with couverture chocolate, the high-end type favored for candy and fancy desserts. It worked beautifully, of course, but then I tried more affordable dark chocolate morsels from the supermarket baking aisle. If you use morsels or bits, be sure to buy real chocolate.
And remember that some "bake-stable" morsels are better for chocolate chip cookies than for ganache, even though cream certainly will smooth the way. I used Nestle dark chocolate morsels and ended up eating three of the tarts myself. I couldn't help it. They called to me from the refrigerator.
A word about ganache.
Chocolate ganache is basically a mix of cream and chocolate. Some cooks make it by simply bringing cream to a low boil and pouring it over chopped chocolate. They wait five minutes and stir. The procedure for this tart is a little different.
First, melt the chocolate gently over water that has been boiled and then moved off the heat.
While the chocolate melts, prep the cream by heating it to a very high simmer and whisking in a beaten egg. This usually cooks some of the egg. To capture the unincorporated particles, pour the cream mixture through a strainer into the melted chocolate. Stir the cream and chocolate together with a spoon, but to make the filling really velvety, finish it by beating with a hand mixer. Fill the tart shells and chill them for at least two hours.
Ready at last, the tarts can be topped with whipped cream and berries. These desserts are very rich and are probably generous enough to share unless you're entertaining raving chocoholics. In that case, make two tarts apiece for your guests and be prepared to distribute copies of the recipe. You'll be so popular!
This ganache filling will be firm enough for easy dividing, but show your chocoholic friends some love: Don't make them share.
Chocolate Ganache Tarts
For the crust:
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 T unsalted butter
For the ganache filling:
1 1/4 cups chopped semisweet chocolate or semisweet/dark chocolate morsels
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, plus more whipping cream to use as topping
1 egg, beaten
fresh fruit, such as raspberries, strawberries or sliced bananas
Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. On a rimmed baking pan, arrange four 4-inch tart pans that have removable bottoms. Set aside.
Place nuts, sugar, butter and salt in a food processor and pulse until a fine-grained mixture forms. Over-processing can produce nut butter, so watch the mixture carefully. Divide it among the tart pans and press into each pan to form crust. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove and allow to cool. Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.
In the bottom of a double boiler, bring about 1 inch of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Place chocolate in the top of the double boiler and melt over the hot water.
In a second pan, bring cream to a very high simmer. While whisk- ing cream, add egg slowly. Pour cream mixture through a strainer into the melted chocolate. Mix by hand with a spoon or spatula, then finish with a hand mixer.
Divide the ganache among the prepared pans. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
To serve: Decorate each tart with a dollop of whipped cream and your favorite fruit. Makes 4 tarts.
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