Monday, 15 June 2015

Tartlets with (eggless) chocolate custard

Tartlets with (eggless) chocolate custard

The title of this post and the pictures talk about a recipe for a variety of tartlet.
And this is true, as I'm going to describe how to make delicious tartlets (or even a large tart if you prefer) filled with a egg-less chocolate custard. But here comes the focus and the very true reason of the post, since what I mostly want to share is the recipe for a really delicious chocolate custard that should be taken into consideration by all home cooks, bakers, amateur chefs as well as mums who like to feed their children and family on homemade food prepared with fresh, high quality ingredients and without artificial flavors, colorants or preservatives. And in fact this custard ticks several boxes.

First of all it is very simple and quick to make: it's ready in less than fifteen minutes, including weighing and chopping chocolate. It only needs time to set, so it's important to make it at least 3 hours before using or serving, or even better one day in advance.
Second it requires few ingredients, usually available in all kitchen cupboards and refrigerators: milk, chocolate, corn starch, salt and vanilla.
Another beautiful thing is that it is very versatile. I used to fill shortcrust pastry tartlets: in particular I made some large ones, like in the picture, that we had at home as well as mini-tartlets that I gave to my son's schoolmates on his birthday. And I liked it very much in this version.
But it can also be used to fill a layered cake in place of buttercream (that I personally don't like at all) or other fillings.
And served in small cups (wafer or chocolate cups if you have on hand) it turns out to be a lovely and elegant dessert to serve at the end of a meal. In this case I would recommend to add some nice toppings: I personally like the combination of chocolate and strawberries or raspberries, but also other fresh or dried fruits, chopped nuts (my favorites with chocolate are pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds), or even some whipped cream are all a perfect addition. And there is no prohibition to add a combination of toppings, for example a mix of nuts and fresh fruit to add at the same time a bit of crunch and some freshness.
Finally you can play with flavors: the simplest is vanilla, but also almond extract works well, not to say about orange, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon.
And the combination coffee - chocolate is close to perfection; in this case don't add fruit but nuts or chocolate chunks instead. 
If you are not going to serve to children some liquor (Cognac, Amaretto, Rum, Cointreau go all well with chocolate) add a lovely flavor. 
And also you can swap dark chocolate for milk or white.
To conclude I would just recommend to start trying and testing with possible combinations and variations on the recipe. You won't regret.

Just a note before going to the recipe: here you find the recipe I used for making the pastry shells, that is one that I particularly like and use very often.
But feel free to use any shortcrust recipe of your liking or to buy ready made shells if you don't have time to make by yourself. 
Tartlets with (eggless) chocolate custard

Tartlets with (eggless) chocolate custard
makes 10 -12 tartlets of 10 cm Æ
Shortcrust (you'll use about half the pastry; you can freeze the rest or use for another tart or pie)
480 g all-purpose flour
250 g butter, chilled and cubed
140 g icing sugar
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
zest of 1 large lemon (organic, not waxed, if possible)
seed of 1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
Chocolate custard filling
250 ml full fat milk
100 g unrefined cane sugar
70 g dark chocolate, chopped
25 g corn starch
seed of 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1 tsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
Make the crust.
Sift the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the cubed butter and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until you get a crumbly mixture and there are no more visible pieces of butter.  Mix in the icing sugar (sifted through a colander if it contains granules) and then lemon zest.  Lightly beat the egg yolks and whole egg with a pinch of salt and the vanilla seeds or extract. Using a knife, mix the beaten eggs into the flour - butter mixture until the pastry comes together into a smooth, elastic ball.
When preparing the pastry it is important that everything is cold (the ideal temperature is 13°C): keep your hands cool, or use the blades of two knives or a pastry scrapers for mixing the ingredients; alternatively ingredients can be mixed using a food processor.
It's also important not to overmix the dough, so once it comes into a ball, wrap it in plastic film and refrigerate overnight (if you can't wait so long, keep the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour).
Make the filling.
Add all the ingredients, except the vanilla and salt, into a pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, mixing continuously, then let simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture will have a custard-like consistency.
Add the vanilla and salt and stir.
Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic film (the film has to touch the surface), let cool then place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight to set.
Remove the pastry dough from the fridge about one hour before baking.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
Butter your tartlets pans, better using loose base pans.
On a lightly floured counter, rapidly work the pastry then roll out to 3 -4 mm thickness. Cut into discs of about 13 cm diameter and use to line the prepared pans.
Prick all the base with a fork. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden.
Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before removing the shells from the pans. Let cool completely.
Using a spoon, spread a thick layer of custard on the pastry shells and keep in the fridge until ready to serve (better to prepare few hours in advance).
Decorate with fresh fruits (strawberries or raspberries go very well with chocolate), chopped nuts or chocolate, some whipped cream or any topping of your liking and serve.
Notes
·      For making the pastry shells you can use any dough recipe of your liking, including eggless one (like this). Alternatively you can use ready made pastry shells.
·      The chocolate custard is very versatile both in terms of flavorings and serving suggestions.
Possible flavors are: coffee (one teaspoon instant coffee in place of cocoa), liquor (rum, cognac, Amaretto, ...), almond extract, orange, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger (powder or even candied ginger), orange, ....
Serving suggestion: the custard can be used as a filling for layered cakes, but can also be served on its own with fresh or dried fruit, nuts, biscuits, or simply some whipped cream.



4 comments:

  1. Looks delicious, lots more spare time during Ramadan so I'll definitely give it a go (with Cointreau of course!).

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Nancy! Cointreau is a perfect choice ... Hope you like!
      Let me know :)

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  2. I was always interesting in different recipes. I love desserts so much and like to search for delicious ones.
    I read your article about week or two ago and still didn't try it. I understand the need of the ingredients, so I would like to ask you one additional question.

    Can I use some fruits, or berries are tastier in such dessert? I thought of adding a pineapple or melon on the top.
    Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. HI Writerperhour, thank you for stopping by. As I said the recipe is very versatile, you can make the changes you like. I particularly love the combination berries-chocolate, but many other fruits work well too. In case the fruit you want to add is a bit watery, I would recommend to pat dry before adding to the tart. Also if you have to cut the fruit, add it just before serving to prevent it from browning.
      Hope you will like it!

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