Lately I’ve been embracing shadows and the appreciation of natural vibrancy of colours against a darker backdrop. I love how muting the peripheries draws your eye towards a more central focal point, akin to slowly being wrapped in a warm blanket, fold by fold. It’s like getting lost in a feeling, rather than in the details. It’s comforting, hypnotizing. There’s also something to be said about the interplay between extreme brightness and darkness that adds an incredible amount of depth to a scene. Not a revolutionary discovery by any means, but I don’t think I’ve managed to capture a reasonable illustration until this moment. Just slightly obsessed with the pictures to follow.
Now about these tarts. These have a cocoa tart crust that’s filled and baked with a chocolate almond frangipane filling. After they’ve cooled, I topped them with a pistachio cream that’s essentially a white chocolate ganache with pistachio paste mixed in and lightened with softly whipped cream. Finished with deceptively casually strewn raspberries, broken off pieces of tempered white chocolate, and generous shavings of lime zest, for that tea-party-in-the-woods effect. Everything came together like a dream.
A new technique I tried with these tarts that I will stick with going forward is using perforated tart rings and a perforated silicon mat to bake. I discovered these perforated versions when I was searching for a square tart ring and ultimately bought them out of curiosity. My research suggested that having these tiny holes allows for trapped air to escape as the pastry bakes, thus avoiding the dreaded puffy, uneven surfaces. Using tart rings would help air escape from the sides, and having the mat helps trapped air at the bottom escape. I confirm this theory and baking tarts have become a significantly less stressful activity, now that I don’t have to use baking beads and all that. Highly recommend that fellow bakers try these out. Might be wrongly informed but the original manufacturer seems to be Silikomart, although there are plenty of other manufacturers selling essentially the same product at a fraction of SIlikomart’s price. Also, just a heads up if you do get these tart rings (the black ones) – in the pictures they appear to be made of steel but are in fact a heat resistant plastic that can withstand a high of 180C. Was a little alarmed at how light they were when I first received them but they are perfectly functional.
Pistachio Dark Chocolate Tarts
makes 7 8-cm square tarts
For the cocoa shortcrust pastry:
45 grams icing sugar
15 grams finely ground almonds
110 grams plain flour
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
60 grams softened butter
30 grams egg
For the chocolate frangipane filling:
50 grams unsalted butter, softened
50 grams finely ground almonds
50 grams sugar
50 grams dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
For the pistachio paste:
60 grams shelled pistachios (remove the skins for a greener finished product, entirely optional), toasted and cooled
10 grams icing sugar
pinch of salt
For the pistachio cream:
30 grams pistachio paste, from above
100 grams white chocolate, chopped
100 grams heavy cream
3.5 sheets of gelatin
150 grams heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
freshly grated lime zest
Make the tart dough: Whisk together the icing sugar, ground almonds, flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add the softened butter and beat until the mixture takes on a sandy texture. Add the egg and continue mixing until it comes together as a dough. Turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap, flatten and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Roll out the dough to roughly 2.5mm in thickness. Line the sides and bottoms of the tart rings with the dough, refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Make the pistachio paste: Combine the toasted pistachios, icing sugar and salt in a food processor and process until you get a smooth paste.
Make the pistachio cream: Place 30 grams of the pistachio paste and chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat 100 grams of heavy cream in a saucepan to a simmer. Meanwhile, soften the gelatin sheets in cool water. Pour the cream over the white chocolate mixture and stir in the softened gelatin until completely combined, let cool completely. When the mixture has cooled, whisk in the whipped cream and combined, refrigerate overnight.
Make the chocolate frangipane filling: Beat the softened butter, finely ground almonds and sugar together. Beat in the egg until incorporated. Stir in the melted chocolate. Transfer mixture to a piping bag.
Bake the tarts: Preheat oven to 170C. Bake the tarts for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and pipe in the filling, filling the tarts halfway up the sides. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Decorate the tarts: Transfer the pistachio cream to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe the cream on top of the cooled tarts in large blobs. Arrange the fresh raspberries on top, grate a lime directly over the tarts.
Cocoa tart crust and pistachio cream recipes are based off Les Patisseries d’Aurelien‘s.