Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TWD - BWJ #2: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

I think it's time I officially admit that I am utterly incapable of not making things overly-complicated. The second Tuesdays with Dorie - Baking with Julia recipe was Chocolate Truffle Tartlets (pp 382-383), and that in and of itself was apparently not enough for me--I had to go and do it six different ways.

Oh, yes, I said six: citrus almond biscotti, four-chocolate biscotti, mint, orange, espresso, and all of these sans the white chocolate (I guess I could have said I did it 10 different ways but that just seemed like exaggeration). And of course the day I decide to do this is the day I'm informed that yet more work has to be done on my car, but I digress.

In order to accomplish this feat of diversity, I used my mini brioche molds to make mini tartlets and just divided the filling in five parts before adding the chocolate, biscotti and extra ingredients (then I used half of each mixture, added the white chocolate and used the remaining halves to fill the other five mini tart shells).

You can find the recipe on the blogs of this week's hosts: A Whisk and a Spoon, Spike Bakes, Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats, and cookbookhabit.

I combined the dry ingredients in a bowl...
...and used my hands to cut in the butter.
Then I wrapped it in plastic and popped it into the fridge while I raced around town trying to get my car taken care of.
Next I assembled the many things that I would put into the fillings.
And then it was time to roll out the dough... (I did half of them about 1/4" thick and half of them 1/8" thick since 1/4" seemed awfully thick--this might have been fine in a 4" tin but not in the minis.)
...put it into the brioche tins...
...and remove the excess dough.
Ten little tartlets in all.
Mmmmm, the melting together of chocolate and butter. Personally, I'm of the opinion that butter makes EVERYTHING better.
Whipping the egg yolks and sugar until it was thick took forever. Seriously. Forever.
The folding together of the chocolate and egg/sugar mixture seemed to take a while, too. Maybe it's just because it was already 9 PM and I was a little tired and a lot hungry.
Five different bowls for five different flavors.
The unbaked tartlets actually look really yummy. I love the texture of the biscotti.
The cooling of the tartlets also seemed to take...wait for it...FOREVER.
Two sets of five tartlets. I was so excited to use the candied blood orange peel I'd made earlier in the day.

After all this work, I'm sad to say that I wasn't wowed by these tartlets. I like the dough well-enough, but the filling just wasn't what I wanted it to be. I think when I put the biscotti in the filling mixture I was hoping there would still be some crunch in the final product, but it was crunch-less, and rather dense. Jake liked them (he rated them an 8 out of 10) so I assume they turned out correctly, I just prefer a lighter filling, more along the lines of pastry cream or chocolate mousse.

For the record, we both preferred them with the thinner crust and without the white chocolate; the four-chocolate biscotti, orange and espresso were Jake's overall favorites. You can check out all the other bakers' variations at the Tuesdays with Dorie site.

Since I'd only used half of the tart dough, I decided to repurpose it. I was originally thinking in the direction of chocolate crunch sandwich cookies, and true to form, I tried them 3 different ways: chocolate-orange, chocolate mint and Nutella. But none of them were GREAT, so I went back to the drawing board.

As cacao nibs are one of my current kitchen obsessions, I decided to press a few into the cut cookies before I baked them; a few cookies also got a sprinkling of instant espresso powder. Both variations are terrific--they almost have the texture of shortbread cookies without being quite so buttery. I love them with the extra kick from the espresso and Jake prefers them without, but each is very tasty in its own way. The espresso adds a slightly (pleasantly) bitter dimension to the cookies, while the plain cacao version is very chocolate-y without being super sweet.

Jake rated these a 9 out of 10, so I've already made them again!


Chocolate Cacao Thins

Yield 75 thins

Ingredients
  • 1 recipe chocolate tart dough (Baking With Julia, p 372)
  • 1/4 c cacao nibs
  • 2 T instant espresso powder (optional)

Directions
  1. Follow the directions for the tart dough through the first chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge and break it into 4-6 smaller pieces. Squeeze a small portion of the dough in your hands a few times to warm it up so it's just maleable.
  4. Roll it out to 1/8"-1/16" thickness and, using a 2" round cookie cutter, make as many cookies as you can.
  5. Sprinkle cacao nibs over the cookies and press gently. If transferring the cookies to a cookie sheet, use a dough scraper to gently lift the cookies up and onto the sheet. If they break a bit you can just press them back together.
  6. Once all the cookies are cut and on the sheet, use two fingers to sprinkle espresso powder over them if desired.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing the cookies to a cooling rack. The cookies will rise up in the middle and become convex; it's totally normal.

43 comments:

  1. wow.. you had a party didnt you?!?! i am tempted by the chocolate-orange and chocolate-mint!!!

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    1. I don't seem to be able to stop myself from thinking about chocolate flavor combinations and wanting to try them all. In every single recipe I make. What can I say? It's a blessing and a curse.

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  2. I was very excited to try these beauties out. weren't they a real treat !!!! Your tarts looks just divine... :-)I used Almond Biscotti but I really liked the idea of adding a citrus flavor. I think orange and chocolate goes very well .. will try that the next time :-)

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    1. I was really excited to make these, too. My husband liked them, so it was nice that they didn't go to waste. I really like how the different pairings bring out different aspects of the chocolate itself.

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  3. I agree with you regarding the filling. I too found it a little too dense (and rich). However, I am setting the dough recipe aside for the summer. I think it would make a wonderful base for a strawberry tart made with pastry cream.

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    1. Oh, you just gave me the most fabulous idea! I'm picturing this chocolate crust with a layer of sliced strawberries and chocolate mousse poured on top, then chilled until the mousse sets. That would be amazing! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  4. The filling was different than I had anticipated nd was more like a nice, chewy brownie. You made a lot, looks wonderful!

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    1. Yeah, it was just thick. I wish there were a more eloquent word that so accurately described this filling, but there isn't.

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  5. You're just an over-achiever! I tried cocoa nibs in the filling to cut the sweetness a little.

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    1. Yes, over-achiever would be quite accurate. I just can't turn my mind off once I start thinking about different flavor possibilities in a recipe. I'm obsessed--OBSESSED--with cocoa nibs right now. I put them in EVERYTHING, except these tartlets, apparently!

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  6. Great idea to use the brioche pans and make smaller tarts. My husband and son both thought the 4-inch tarts were too big. (I know--what?) The cookies look fantastic as well.

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    1. 4" is a heck of a lot of filling, though! The only thing about the cookies is that since they're so small it's easy to eat way too many of them at once!

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  7. Yours are so cute! Also, I love the cookie idea!

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    1. Thanks! I like to either show what I did with the recipe (like the bread).

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  8. They look delicious! I am sad you didn't like them after all that work! Glad you found something you loved it tart dough cookies. It sounds like a saying about lemons and lemonade. ;)

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    1. Haha it does sound like lemons and lemonade, but I guess those sayings are sayings for a reason! I think I've decided to give the tarts another try. Maybe I did something wrong?

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  9. Wow! You went all out. Your tartlets are cure!

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    1. Thanks! I wish I could think of it as "going all out." In my head it's more like "compulsive need to try everything, now." Kind of like baking ADD actually. I can't just focus on one version!

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  10. Wow, you're so creative! I love that you used brioche molds, that's a really good idea for people who don't want to go out and purchase tartlet rings. I liked the tartlets, but they were rather heavy, more so than I was expecting anyway. My biscotti also softened after baking so mine lacked the crunch factor as well :/

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    1. Creative...lazy...same difference! Yep, definitely heavier than I was expecting. The lack of crunch was probably my single biggest disappointment with this project. I could have dealt better with the heaviness if there had been more textural variance.

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  11. Jebus! And I thought I was pushing the boat out by making my own cardamom pecan biscotti! Great post!

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    1. Um, you made cookies, too, lady! This is how I stress myself out, by trying to do a single recipe 10 different ways all at the same time. There has to be medication for this... :)

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  12. Wow, how fantastic! I'm coming to your house for the next assignment, k? :D

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    1. Then there would have been someone to actually eat them! I think my crazy baking has put Jake into sugar-overload because he only ate about half of each one and never touched them again, despite protesting that he really liked them.

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  13. I am so impressed that you made so many variations of both the tartlets and the cookies! I wish we all could have a taste test of each. I am so inspired by your post and the cookies with the cocoa nibs and espresso sound delicious.

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    1. The cookies really were amazing. The bitterness of the espresso powder was inspired by an anecdote from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert where she talks about grating fresh nutmeg over cookies instead of mixing it into the batter.

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  14. Love your use of the brioche molds! (Which are almost fancier and more fun than mini tart molds, in my opinion.) I also found that the whipping of the egg yolks and sugar took forever....

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    1. It was definitely a little un-nerving, waiting for the yolk and sugar mixture to look the way the book described. I love to make things miniature so they're easy to eat and easy to share!

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  15. So cute! :) Since you're in the DFW area, too, maybe we can meet up sometime soon!!

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  16. These look and sound delicious!

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    1. They were very pretty, and most everyone else seemed to like them!

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  17. You are too funny! Way to take this challenge to a new level :-)

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    1. Maybe for my next challenge I'll STOP taking things to a whole new level. That would be new and different for me. And probably less stressful. :)

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  18. Wow you are ambitious!! I'm really impressed by all the combinations you tried. I think the orange sounds really good! The tartlets look really cute made in the mini brioche molds. I've always been tempted to buy some of those molds just because they are so cute to look at:) Good idea to try cookies!! I really like cocoa nibs also. I've only used them in brownies so far though.

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    1. I think so much of my abitiousness is motivated by indecision. If I can't say for sure that I want to try something THIS way or THAT way I just do them all. It's sort of a prelude to insanity. I threw some cacao nibs into some gluten-free brownies I made last week and it added nice depth so I think I'll probably do it again when I conduct a brownie taste test next weekend.

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  19. your the first to incorporate citrus into this one! how ambitious! :)

    Alice @ http://acookingmizer.wordpress.com

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    1. That's so strange to me. When I think of chocolate flavor pairings I always think of orange and mint as the most natural!

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  20. Love the creativity here! I didn't add the biscotti and glad I didn't.

    ~ Carmen
    http://bakingismyzen.wordpress.com

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    1. Some bakers said they got some crunch from the biscotti but I definitely didn't. My thoughts are that if it had been drier (I use fat in my biscotti) or if the chunks had been larger it might have added more texturally.

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  21. You make me feel like an under-achiever for following the recipe :-) But seriously, it's so cool that you tried so many different variations. The candied orange one sounds great to me. Sorry you didn't love these. Thanks for the cookie recipe, they sound great.

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