Whoa. What a blast in class tonight. We were cookin’ with gas even tho I have an electric stove top. But we knew what we were doing. It was like a little tornado in the kitchen. Spinning energy that stirred up every dish with friendly hot-happy enthusiasm. Oh yeah. Thank you great cooks who come cook with me!
Amidst the black pepper-infused fresh fettuccine (we thought we had over-peppered the pasta dough, but, oh, no, it was peppery and beautiful), and the veal stew with artichokes & white wine, and the escarole sautéed with garlic and dried cranberries, were the little charmers that made it out of the oven with modest sweetness and then wowed us when we crowned them with whipped cream and orange zest. Yay, dessert, we would never desert you. Little chocolate tarts …we bow to your genius.
How to? Easy. (I’m always interested in that special kind of easy that creates wonders.) (The kind I’ve seen over and over in Italian kitchens where the simple is the sublime.) (That’s my goal.) (Always.)
For the Crust:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 stick cold butter (4 tablespoons), cut into small cubes
1/8 cup ice-cold white wine (or a bit more if needed)
Pulse dry ingredients in a food processor. Add butter, pulse till broken up but still with big chunks. Add wine. Pulse till it comes together in a ball of dough. Press dough into a flat, thick disk. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Roll out dough. Cut 3.5 to 4 inch circles. Fit dough gently into medium cupcake tin cups. Add some parchment in each, fill with dried beans, blind bake for 12 minutes in 375 degree oven. Remove parchment and beans.
For the Filling:
Heat 2/3 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan. When hot add 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, 1/2 teaspoon each: vanilla extract, orange extract, instant espresso powder. Whisk smooth. Beat an egg in a small bowl. Add a couple teaspoons of hot chocolate mixture to temper, whisk in. Then add egg to chocolate mixture and whisk till smooth.
Spoon filling into crusts. Bake for 10 minutes.
When cool. Beat 1/2 cup heavy cream into whipped cream (with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar). Add a dollop to each tart. Sprinkle with some orange zest.
Try eating these with a fork in dainty forkfuls. Or by hand, just bite into them (with dainty bites). Or if you’re really feeling ambitious, pretend you’re on the Flintstones where any bite is a big one and munch the whole thing at once.
(It’s all a matter of style.)