Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chocolate and Pecan Tarts - Part 2 of Tarts Weekend!

Was definitely not on my plan to spend the weekend just making tarts...really was a coincident!  While flipping through my stack of food magazines, I came across this delectable picture displaying chocolate tarts, recipe did not look too complicating hence why not give it a try.   Hmmmm, and I thought making short crust pastry from scratch was a bit of a challenge, but after trying to make caramelize sugar the dry way, making short crust pastry is a piece of cake in comparison! 

This really was my 2nd attempt 2 days in a row...the original recipe called for walnuts which I did not have in my pantry, instead I used hazelnuts which is a match made in heaven with chocolate.  Unfortunately, it ended up in the bin as the caramelize sugar crystalized after I have added cream and the hazelnuts and tried pouring it into the tarts.  Always striving for perfection in my kitchen experiments, this really did not look right...hence, started the process again the next day, ran out of hazelnuts and search through my pantry and found this unopen bag of pecans which is a close call to the original recipe which called for walnuts.

Lessons learnt from this attempt and maybe I am the only person who does not know this!...1) Do not pour any cold liquid (e,g, thickened cream) into caramelized sugar.  Heat them up before hand. 2) Put in some acidic food (lemon juice) into the sugar while it is in the process of caramelizing as this prevents crystalization (Thanks to my "profesional chef" guide book - from the Culinary Institute of America. Very helpful indeed!).

The tarts does taste as good as it looks - persistent 2nd attempt is definitely worth it:)  Recipe as per below - Enjoy!

Chocolate and Pecan tarts
(Adapted from Delicious Magazine - July 2010, modified slightly)
Makes 6

125g caster sugar
1 cup (250 ml) thickened cream
150g pecans, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve (you can also substitute this with hazelnuts or walnuts)
175 ml pure (thin) cream
175g good quality dark chocolate, chopped

250g plain flour
100g icing sugar
40g almond meal
100g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

For the pastry, grease six 10cm tart pans.  Place flour, icing sugar, almond meal and butter into a food processor.  Process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add eggs and whiz until mixture just comes together.  Divide dough into 6 portions, then shape into disc, enclose in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Roll out pastry on a lightly flour surface to 3mm thick.  Use to line the tart pans, then place in freezer for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 180C.

Line pastry with baking paper, then filled with pastry weights or uncooked rice.  Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until light golden.  Remove paper and weights and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until evenly golden.  Cool

To make the filling, preheat a heavy based saucepan over medium heat, slowly add sugar into pan bit by bit - do not stir mixture.  As sugar starts to melt, slowly sprinkle in some lemon juice (1/2 tsp).  Cook until golden caramel colour.  Meanwhile, heat thickend cream in another saucepan until it comes to light boil.  As the sugar turns golden caramel colour, slowly pour warm thickend cream and pecan into the caramelized sugar.  Stir a little until combine.  Remove from heat and pour into tart shells and bake for 6-8 minutes.  The mixture must bubble all the way to the centre and should be slightly firm around the edges and jiggly in the centre.  Allow to cool.  Chill for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the topping, place pure cream in a pan over medium heat and bring to just below boiling point.  Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir to melt.  Cool slightly, then pour over the filling.  Chill for 10 minutes until set.  Remove tarts from pan, scatter the tarts with extra pecans, then serve.

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