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Sweetheart Tart

By Dorothy Sibole

My sweetie loves chocolate, so woe is me if I do not incorporate it into a special treat this Valentine's Day. My sweetie also loves it when I get creative, so this year I am going to surprise him with a new dessert I created just for him -- the Sweetheart Tart.

When it comes to making a chocolate dessert, I try to balance the chocolate with other flavors. I do not want a chocolate dessert that is all chocolate and might possibly sit a little heavy and be a little less than memorable. By adding a contrasting and complimenting flavor, I can really make a chocolate desert shine.

Now there are exceptions but, in general, I like to mix a milk or dark chocolate with a fruit like oranges or raspberries. White chocolate and bittersweet chocolate both go well with many types of nuts. These flavor pairings also go for the liqueurs or extracts that I may add.

This special tart will have one of my favorite crusts made of chocolate macaroons filled with a light, flavorful raspberry mousse, to compliment the chocolate, and topped with a sinful layer of chocolate/raspberry ganache. The ganache is the layer coats the palate with dark, rich chocolate flavor and makes this tart a chocolate dessert. You will want to use a good quality chocolate for this layer -- something approaching the 50- to 70-percent cocoa butter range really makes a difference here. Top it all off with some whipped cream and a garnish of chocolate curls and fresh raspberries. Your sweetheart will be in valentine heaven.

When shopping for the best fresh raspberries for garnishing this tart, look for berries that are full and round. The walls of the berry should be full and meaty, not skimpy. The best berries have a hazy, soft "gloss". And they won't have tiny dents, bruises or be broken. Don't wash your raspberries until you are ready to prepare and eat them, as moisture will hasten the aging process, so keep them dry while in storage. Under ideal conditions, raspberries should keep for 2 to 3 days in your refrigerator. There are two main varieties of raspberries: red and golden. Red raspberries are more common and are tart and juicy. The golden raspberries are a bit more mellow, but still tart and juicy. Raspberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, folic acid and fiber.

If you are running out of time, a couple of other ideas for a nice sweet treat would be to take a pint of fresh raspberries and pour over them about 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve. This also works well with sweet, ripe strawberries.

For the macaroon crust, you can buy some chocolate macaroons already made or make them ahead of time yourself with this recipe:

Chocolate Macaroons

  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2-½ cups flaked coconut
Melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave oven. Set aside and cool to room temperature. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixer bowl and beat at high speed, using a whip, until soft peaks are formed. Add sugar gradually while continuing to beat at high speed. Add flavorings and salt to meringue, beating at low speed. Add melted chocolate, continuing to beat at slow speed. Remove the whip and stir the coconut into the meringue with a spoon. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with Pam spray or lined with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until macaroons are not quite firm. Keep in a loosely covered container in a dry place at room temperature, or freeze until needed. Do not cover tightly if storing at room temperature.

Yields about 86 cookies.

Chocolate Macaroon Crust

  • 2 cups coarsely ground chocolate macaroons (recipe above)
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Mix the ingredients together and press into the pan of your choice (a 9-inch spring-form pan or tart pan with removable bottom, for instance). Bake in a 350F degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Raspberry Mousse

  • 1 pint of fresh raspberries or about 12 ounces of frozen raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
In a saucepan combine the raspberries (saving a couple for garnish), sugar and water. Bring the ingredients to a boil; then reduce the temperature to a simmer. When the level of the liquid has been reduced by half, add the gelatin, bring to a boil again, and then remove from heat and let cool down. When the sauce is cooled, drain the liquid from the raspberries and strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds, then stir the raspberries back into the strained liquid.
  • 1-½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
Whip the cream until it is frothy; then add the confectioners sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Fold in the raspberry sauce.
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into the raspberry mixture. Pour the mixture into the cookie crust smoothing the top flat (a ruler or other straight-edge pulled across the top of the tart works well) and allow to chill while you prepare the ganache.
More Valentine's Day Food:

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache

  • 12 ounces of chopped good quality dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons Chambord (a raspberry liqueur)
Bring the heavy cream to a boil, remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Using a spoon or spatula, stir in a circular motion until creamy and smooth. Don't use a whisk; you don't want to whip air bubbles into the ganache. This may take a few minutes of stirring. It will look like a mess at first, but as you stir and the chocolate melts completely, it will all come together into a beautiful glossy chocolate ganache. Add the Chambord and stir until it is incorporated. Let the ganache cool for about 15 minutes or until it is cool to the touch.

Remove the tart from the pan, and place on a platter. Pour the ganache slowly on top of the tart until you have a nice even layer. Let it cool for a couple of hours or overnight.

Top this luscious creamy dessert with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate shavings.

This Sweetheart Tart will make for a day that both you and your valentine will long remember.

Dorothy Sibole is a pastry chef living in Austin, TX. If you have questions about this article or the recipes, contact us at moc.gnikoocsaxet@nibrof_solkim.
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