I was excited to see the second pick this month for the TWD-Baking with Julia group. Our group of hosts (Steph, Spike, Jessica & Jaime) chose Chocolate Truffle Tartlets for us to make this week. I love chocolate, and I love tarts. I like pie too, but there's something great about a tart--I really like crust, and the ratio of filling to crust in a tart is just right for me. In addition to dessert tarts, I like to make savory ones as well.
In the course of my TWD journey, I've acquired a lot of bakeware. It's a testament to my love of tarts that even 4+ years ago, before I started TWD, I owned tart pans in several sizes. I know I had a 9 1/2" one and an 11" one, as well as a set of half a dozen 4 1/2" tartlet pans. I might have even had the 10 1/4" one already. In an attempt to make smaller tarts--so I could make them more often with less guilt (since most tart crusts have lots of butter), sometime in the past year I picked up 6" and 8" ones. Oh, and I also have a 14" x 4 1/2" rectangular pan that I love.
I knew I wanted to make half the recipe, which would be three tartlets. I didn't want to figure out a good way to divide that between four people, so I decided to make a larger tart. So I had to determine what size to use. That led me to one of my favorite baking activities, doing the math. =) Yes, I know most of you are shaking your heads, wondering if I'm crazy. But I really do enjoy it.
My tart pans are all about the same in depth, so I really only had to do a calculation of the surface area. The recipe says it makes six 4 1/2" tartlets. So for one, it's 2.25 x 2.25 x π, or about 16 square inches. For six, that's a total of about 96 square inches. I planned to halve the recipe, so I needed a pan with about 48 square inches in area. My 8" tart pan has an area of 4 x 4 x π, which is about 50 square inches. Close enough!
Even though I was making half the recipe, I went ahead and made the full amount of tart dough. I didn't want to mess with half an egg yolk, and I figured I could just freeze the extra dough. As I've mentioned before, I prefer natural cocoa powder, so that's what I used. In this case it was Hershey's since I didn't think the flavor of the crust would stand out due to the filling (so no point in breaking out the really good stuff). As instructed, I left the bottom out of the tart pan (never done that before!). The 8" pan fit nicely on one of my quarter sheet pans that I lined with parchment.
I got a nice upper body workout making the filling. I know that my stand mixer doesn't do a good job whipping small volumes, and I hate dragging out my hand mixer (it's a bit buried in one of my cabinets). So I grabbed my balloon whisk and a big bowl and beat the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar by hand. It really wasn't bad, since I was using the right tools for the job. I added a big pinch of salt to the sugar when I was adding it; I find that it adds a lot to chocolate desserts. For the filling, I used 60% chocolate (Agostoni discs that I buy at Central Market). I skipped the cookies in the filling, not being in the mood for crunch. Instead, I increased the amount of chocolate chunks (to about 100 grams total for my half recipe). I don't care for white chocolate, so I used a mix of milk chocolate and dark chocolate for the chunks. (I got into my supply of Trader Joe's chocolate that I brought back from our trip to Ohio early last summer. ) To make the chocolate easier to cut into chunks without it breaking into lots of little shards, I microwaved the bigger pieces of chocolate on 10% power for about 30 seconds first.
I wasn't sure about the baking time for my 8" tart versus the tartlets. I ended up baking the empty crust for 14 minutes. (I froze it beforehand to make sure it would hold its shape while baking.) My filling took 15 minutes to be dry on top and apparently set in the middle. The tart had a chance to cool for over an hour before we cut into it, so it was pretty close to room temperature.
The verdict? I must have guessed well on the bake time, because the texture of the tart was perfect. I have no doubt that we'll be making this recipe again--it was really delicious. Brianna was a bit disappointed that the texture wasn't the same after the tart had been in the fridge overnight--she liked the slightly oozing texture it had at room temperature. The tart was very rich; I'm not sure how anyone would be up for eating a whole 4 1/2" tartlet. We got 8 servings out of my 8" tart, and I think I'll stick with that size in the future.
If you'd like to give this recipe a try, you can find the recipe in the book, of course. You can also find it by visiting this week's hosts. To see what everyone else thought of the Truffle Tart(lets), check out this week's Links!
p.s. I'll be back tomorrow with some cupcakes, since today is my birthday! =)