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January 11, 2010

A Bright Start to the New Year: Chocolate Passionfruit Tarts


With such a chilly start to the new year, I need all the sunshine I can get to keep me from immobilizing into a blanket-wrapped mound in front of the fireplace. (I know; when I moved into my new place last year, I viewed the gas fireplace as an unnecessary but aesthetically-pleasing bonus. And, ok, so temperatures, while definitely low, are not pile-on-the-firewood cold. But when it's dreary, cement-block gray outside and the twilight-blue shadows sprawl over the hills entirely too early, one feels a defiant contentment in having a rustling, flickering, ruddy fire to chase away the chill.)


Surely, subconsciously, that might have influenced my decision to make these chocolate passionfruit mousse tarts. They practically glow neon against my white plates, and their intensely tropical-tart flavor makes me feel like I'm somewhere warm and vacation-y instead of trying to dodge the doldrums of winter.

The tarts start with a chocolate pâte sucrée crust, crisp and not too sweet (despite the name). I spread a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache on the bottom, which made a perfect cushion for a top layer of passionfruit mousse. The mousse, a simple concoction of passionfruit puree, sugar, butter, eggs, and a smidge of gelatin, has the additional benefit of making the entire kitchen smell like a tropical fruit grove, which, if you've got the fire a-blazing or perhaps the heater turned up, could make for a passably enticing illusion indeed.

The shards of chocolate poking jauntily out of the passionfruit depths are just a bit of gilding the lily - and after all, I've still a lot of chocolate from that candy book-writing adventure! A bite of this tart is just the sharp, sweet perk-up for a gloomy day, like a errant beam of sun slicing palely through gunmetal clouds. Bundle up, or go jump in the snow, whichever is your wont - happy January!


Chocolate Passionfruit Tarts

makes about 15 tarts

Chocolate Pâte Sucrée

2 sticks (1 cup, 8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 egg yolks

2 1/2 cups (11 oz) cake flour

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/2 stick (2 oz) unsalted butter

Passionfruit Mousse

1 cup passionfruit puree

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3 teaspoons powdered gelatin

For the tart shells: Place the butter in a food processor and process until soft and creamy.

Add the confectioners' sugar and process until well blended and smooth.

Add in the cocoa powder and salt and process until well blended.

Add in the egg and egg yolks and process until just blended; scrape the bowl down as necessary.

Add the flour and pulse just until the dough starts to come together into a ball; don't overprocess. The dough will be very soft like cookie dough.

Scrape the dough out of the food processor and make into a ball. Flatten out into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours until it is firm enough to handle.

When you are ready to bake off the tart shells, take the dough out of the refrigerator - let it warm up a bit if necessary but not too much because it will start melting fast.

Roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/8" thickness. If the dough gets too soft, place back in the refrigerator to firm up.

Place the tart rings you will use on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Cut out circles of dough to fit into desired tart rings. Press the dough carefully into the tart rings and up the sides, being careful not to stretch the dough or it will shrink when baked. Place the rings into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Trim off the excess dough from the top of the rings.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F while chilling the tart shells. When you are ready, line the shells with parchment and fill with beans or rice to keep the shells weighed down.

Bake shells for about 15-18  minutes until they are lightly colored and the shell feels dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and place on a rack. Remove the beans and parchment and brush the bottoms of the shells with a light egg wash (made from an egg white and a bit of water).

For the ganache: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour over the chocolate and let sit for a minute. Stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth.

Add butter and stir until it is melted and incorporated.

Spread a thin layer of ganache in the bottom of the cooled tart shells and let ganache set while you make the mousse.

For the mousse: Combine passionfruit puree, half of the sugar, and the butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar and butter are dissolved and incorporated. Remove from heat.

Place gelatin in a bowl and add about 1/4 cup cold water. Let gelatin bloom.

Combine eggs and remainder of sugar together. Add to the passionfruit mixture and place over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent eggs from cooking. Cook until mixture thickens slightly, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in gelatin and stir until melted and incorporated. Remove and let cool slightly

When passionfruit mixture has cooled but not set, divide among tart shells, filling to just below the top. Place in refrigerator and chill until set, a couple hours.


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I'm sure the tart passionfruit and the sweet chocolate combination makes a great dessert!

I was wondering, what is the purpose of brushing egg wash onto the baked pastry shells? Does it prevent the shell from softening when coming into contact with the mousse? Thanks!

GORGEOUS! These tarts are so the color combo. Yum! :)

Happy New Year!

Those tartlets are really beautiful and so tempting! Nice combo!



Wow, these are a gorgeous sight to behold... and I'll bet they taste even better! Happy New Year!

I can't think of a better treat to start off the year!

Not only do I want to eat one, but instead of jumping in the snow, I just might jump into one of these tarts! You do a marvelous job of writing about your creation; so much so that I can almost taste the finished product. Nicely done!


Girl, I was just obsessing over those measuring cups at Anthropologie yesterday! Beautiful work, as always. Happy New Year! I'm excited to see what you have on your menu for 2010. :)

Any suggestions on where to find passion fruit puree? I've looked everywhere in the Bay and the closest I've come is a syrupy mixer at BevMo.

"Wow!" was the first thing I said when I saw these passion fruit tarts. I'm amazed, the colour is so vibrant! They look gorgeous and I'd love to try making them. Your photos are great.

Anita, I'm a complete sucker for anything passionfruit - and paired with chocolate it's even better!
Beautiful tarts!

Hi Wendy,
The egg wash is a trick I learned to help keep tart shells from getting soggy. When I fill tart shells with a custard, mousse, fruit, etc, anything that's "liquidy", obviously over time the tart shell will absorb the moisture and become unappetizingly soft and soggy. The egg wash helps protect the tart crust and keep it crisp for longer!

Thank you! I was lucky - I got them as an Xmas present! Can you tell I was eager to show them off?:) I'm eager to see what you've got cooking for the new year, too!

Hi Andrew,
The two most commonly available purees I've found are by Boiron and Perfect Puree. Perfect Puree is based in Napa while Boiron is French I believe. You can find them on various online sites - sells their products directly and I've also seen them on Amazon. Also, Pacific Gourmet in San Francisco ( is a wholesale distributor of gourmet food products. They only deliver to businesses, but I believe anyone can place a minumum $75 order and pick it up at their warehouse. They have a lot of cool items! Hope this helps!

How a sweet combination of flavours !

sounds like the macaron of Pierre Hermé with chocolate and passaion fruits that Istilhaveto try. For theoccasionIeven bought Valrhona chocolate. Jesus! your dessert looks soooooo goooooood!

Happy New year! The tarts are gorgeous.

The tarts are beautiful and sound delicious! I wonder if they will work with my vegetarian gelatin; I've had bad luck using it in the past :-(

I can workout for months...but first let me have this....looks divine.....

Oh, I love tarts. They are so impressive and decadent. These look absolutely amazing! I can't wait to try this out!

Any ideas on how to make the passion fruit puree from scratch? I live in Thailand and can get passion fruits, but no puree.

That looks like a nice ray of sunshine in this bad weather week! Beautiful.

Hi Glen,

Actually, you're much luckier than me! If you have fresh passion fruits, you can simply puree the pulp in a blender or food processor and strain out the pulpy bits to get a smooth puree. Add sugar to taste. I use passion fruit puree only because it's difficult and expensive to get fresh passion fruit here!

Hi Glen,

Actually, youre much luckier than me! If you have fresh passion fruits, you can simply puree the pulp in a blender or food processor and strain out the pulpy bits to get a smooth puree. Add sugar to taste. I use passion fruit puree only because its difficult and expensive to get fresh passion fruit here!


Hi musicalchef,

Unfortunately I don't have as much experience using agar agar or other vegetarian gelatins, but I think they can be substituted - it's a matter of using the right quantities. There may be conversion charts on the internet. Good luck!

So gorgeous. I have to start baking from his book.

I was trying to figure out what I was craving right now and as soon as I read "passionfruit" and saw how sticky, yummy your tarts came out...well, I guess I know what I'm making tonight.

Beautiful colors!!

These look fantastic and I am planning on making them for a dinner party on friday. Is the filling firm enough to slice so that it can be made as one large tart rather than mini tarts or will it fall apart? I don't have enough tart rings for all the people coming and am trying to avoid adding to the cabinet clutter. Thanks

i've just discovered my love for passion fruits in australia where they have lovely local produce. ive been trying different types of passion fruits and what can i say... theyre all yummy! ;)and they look so pretty in pictures, too. i should really upload them soon.

These look absolutely delicious! I'm going to try some with a thin layer of Swiss Maid dark chocolate fudge between the crust and the filling.

Hi, these look delicious and I'm actually in the process of making them myself. However, I was wondering if you could confirm that the measurements in your pate sucree are correct. 1.5 cups of flour is nowhere near 10.5 ounces. Did you mean 2.5 cups? It seems like 2.5 cups would be a more accurate measure. I am an experienced baker yet had great difficulty rolling out this dough. It seems like there is a high ratio of butter in the dough. Most chocolate pate sucree recipes would have only about 6-8 Tbs, not 16.

Thank you!

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