These images were ready to go weeks ago but I couldn't find the words to accompany them, so I thought that I would put the post off until I could, but let's just say that there are wiser strategies out there. So allow me to proceed with a straight up description: the shine of the ganache is immensely visually arresting; the combination of passionfruit and chocolate is no less tasty than it is fancy, although I thought that the ganache tasted better on day two, when the sharpness of the dark chocolate has mellowed slightly (or go for a lower cocoa percentage from the get go!); I have henceforth pledged to pipe ganache into tart shells as demonstrated and I hope I've convinced you to do so with me.
In short, treat your eyes to these tarts too.
Passionately Chocolate Tartlets
makes about 24
from the book Desserts by Pierre Hermé
For the apricots:
10 moist, plump dried apricots, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Place all of the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed 2 quart saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to its lowest setting and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the apricots are soft and puffy. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and allow the apricots to steep in the liquid for 3 to 4 hours. When you're ready to use the apricots, drain them and and pat dry between paper towels. (The apricots can be prepared a day ahead and kept covered, in their liquid, at room temperature.)
For the crust:
93g or 3 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tbsp + 2 tsp ground blanched almonds
a little more than 1/4 tsp vanilla bean pulp or a drop of pure vanilla extract (literally)
around 3 tbsp of an beaten egg
163g or 1 1/6 cup all purpose flour
Make the dough: Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until creamy. Add the sugar, almonds, salt, vanilla, and eggs, and still working on low speed, beat to blend the ingredients, scraping down the paddle and the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough may look curdled - that's alright. With the machine still on low, add the flour in three or four additions and mix only until the mixture comes together to form a soft, moist dough.
Gather dough into a ball and divide into half. Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each one in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or for up to 2 days before rolling and baking.
To mold the tartlets, butter and set aside twenty four 1 1/2 inch tartlet tins. Also set aside a 2-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, as many 3 to 4 inch square pieces of aluminum foil as you have tins, and some dried pea beans or rice.
Working on a floured surface with one piece of dough at a time (keep the other pieces in the refrigerator), roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many circles of dough as you can from the rolled-out sheet. Clear away the excess dough and set it aside for the moment. Fit each round of dough into a buttered tin. Place the tins on a jelly-roll pan and refrigerate them while you roll out, cut, and mold the second piece of dough. Place the second set of shells on the jelly-roll pan and chill the tins for at least 30 minutes. If you'd like, the scraps can be rolled and cut to make additional tartlets: gather the scraps from both pieces of dough, form them into a disk, and cover and chill for at least an hour before rolling out. (Alternatively! You could do away with all the cutting and rolling by taking the freshly made dough and pressing a sufficient quantity in each tartlet tin, and then chilling the tins overnight, just to be on the safe side. I doubt Pierre Hermé would endorse this, but it worked perfectly fine for me.)
Bake the tartlets: Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the pan with the tartlet tins from the refrigerator and gently press a square of aluminum foil into each tin. Put a few beans or a spoonful of rice into each tin - just enough to keep the foil in place - and bake the tartlets for about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake the shells for another 2 minutes or so, just until they are lightly coloured. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the shells to cool to room temperature.
For the ganache:
5 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly pressed or bottled passionfruit juice
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan; in another saucepan, bring the passionfruit juice to a boil.
Pour half of the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir gently, starting from the center of the bowl and then in increasingly larger concentric circles until the cream is incorporated. Repeat with the remaining cream and then, in the same manner, stir in the warm passionfruit juice. Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the ganache, stirring gently to combine. Chill ganache for 10 to 15 minutes until it is at a consistency that is firm but easy to pipe.
Assemble: Put a few small cubes of the steeped and patted dry apricots into the bottom of each tartlet shell, making sure to set aside a dozen or so cubes for topping. Spoon the ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 star inch tip and pipe a swirl of ganache into each shell. Put a cube of apricot on top of each tartlet and serve.