It’s funny how one door closes and another opens. Just after I decided that the Daring Bakers was no longer for me, I saw a conversation on Twitter between a few of my friends and the formidable Abby Dodge. About baking together, virtually: #baketogether. One recipe, your way? Sounded wonderful! I was SO IN! I love Abby’s recipe’s – her book Desserts 4 Today features recipes all using only 4 ingredients – the non-bakers’ baking book, but one which offers more experienced bakers a lot of opportunities to personalise things.
This particular recipe (a Chocolate Truffle Tart, originally featured on Fine Cooking) is a simple chocolate truffle tart with endless possibilities to change the flavours up. It features a biscuit crumb and butter crust, a filling of chocolate and a topping of flavoured mascarpone and as soon as I saw it, I knew that I wanted to make two different mini-tarts to experiment with a couple of possibilities. First up: Honey graham cracker crust filled with Toblerone truffle and topped with honey mascarpone cream.
Abby’s recipe features a big old dollop of mascarpone on top of the tart but I don’t much like tarts with too much cream topping (even if is is mascarpone!) so I opted for a subtle swirl, topped with grated Toblerone.
I sent these tartelettes off to a dinner party with Neil for “testing purposes” and my taste testers wrote: “The chocolate fudge tart was absolutely perfect. Would not change a thing! Great texture, perfect balance of sweet-bitter. Crust was amazing!” I am not sure what they mean by “bitter” but clearly they liked it. I enjoyed the balance the not overly-sweet crust gave to the very sweet filling and the honey mascarpone lightened the flavour up a little too.
Next up, I went with a ginger cookie crust filled with white chocolate truffle and topped with lemon mascarpone cream. I loved this – the crust has a little “bite” from the ginger and spices and the filling was creamy and even though it was rich, the lemon and ginger cut through that nicely. My taste testers said: “The crust was especially notable on this tart and merits extra commentary. The spices really stood out! Possibly they slightly overshadowed the filling, hence my confusion of what I was tasting. I spooned out the (delicious, creamy, decadently sweet) filling and then followed up with the crust so I could enjoy both more fully!!! This crust struck me as perfect for pumpkin tart…Thanksgiving is only ~5 months away…”
Yes, indeed, that crust is perfect for a pumpkin swirl baked cheesecake.
I loved baking with Abby and will definitely be adding this to my dessert repertoire – so easy, so impressive:
Recipe courtesy Abby Dodge
For the crust:
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) finely crushed graham cracker crumbs (I used honey graham cracker crumbs for the Toblerone tart and ginger snap crumbs for the white chocolate tart)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or Toblerone or white chocolate)
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch table salt
For the topping
1 package (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used a tablespoon of honey for the Toblerone tart)
To make the crust:
Heat the oven to 375°F and have ready a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.
1. In a small bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and sugar until well blended. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and mix and smear the crumbs and butter until well blended and evenly moist. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly onto the bottom and sides of the pan. To keep the crumbs in the pan and not covering my hands, I cover the crumbs with a piece of plastic wrap before pressing the crumbs. I also use a straight-sided, flat-based metal measuring cup or a tart tamper to press firmly but anything with a flat bottom will do the trick. Bake until fragrant and slightly darker brown, 10 to12 minutes and set on a rack to cool.
To make the filling:
1. In a heatproof medium bowl, melt the chocolate, half and half, and butter in a microwave or over simmering water. Remove from the heat and add the rum vanilla and salt. Whisk the mixture until well blended. Set aside, whisking occasionally, until room temperature and slightly thickened, about 1 hour. (For faster cooling, refrigerate the filling until thickened to a pudding consistency, about 30 minutes, whisking and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every 5 minutes.)
2. With a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the crust and spread evenly. Let cool completely, cover, and refrigerate until the filling is set, about 4 hours and up to 1 day before proceeding with the recipe.
To make the topping:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla (OR YOUR SWITCH-IN). Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat on low speed until smooth. Increase speed to medium high and beat until cream is thick and holds firm peaks.
2. Using a small metal spatula, spread the whipped cream over the chocolate filling leaving lots of swirls and peaks. Cover loosely and refrigerate up to 8 hours. (DO YOU WANT TO SPRINKLE THE TOP WITH SOMETHING? IF SO, DO IT JUST BEFORE SERVING)