Sweetheart Tartby Dorothy Sibole
When it comes to making a chocolate dessert, I try to balance the chocolate with other flavors.
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:
- 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
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
More Valentine's Day Food:
- 1 pint of fresh raspberries or about 12 ounces of frozen raspberries
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 1-½ cups heavy cream
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 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.
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.