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August 28, 2006

Bittersweet Chocolate Tartlets


What do you make when you're invited to a bloggers' picnic, to be attended by foodies and gourmands from all over the Bay Area? To make things more complicated, I would actually be at work all that day before going to the event, meaning I needed to make something that would have to be finished the night before and could last several hours before serving. For dessert (what? did you think I would actually bring anything else?) that cut out many options and choices. In the face of so many sophisticated palates, I couldn't stomach making any overly fragile or complicated creation that might melt, crumble, curdle, or collapse before I made it there.

What did I end up making? A recipe adapted from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet, which consists of a melted-butter shortbread crust surrounding a soft, creamy chocolate center. Because the tart crust is whipped up in a bowl and pressed into the tin, there's no need for chilling and rolling out a dough, yet the crust is as buttery-rich and crumbly as any I've tried. While Medrich calls for making a single tart or smaller 4" tarts, I took a miniature muffin tin and pressed in the dough as thinly as possible - from the amount of dough meant for a 9" tart I was able to get over 24 little tartlets. The tartlet shells baked up delicately thin and crumbled under a gentle bite, yielding to a rich mouthful of chocolate mousse.


The simplicity and reliability of this recipe makes it ideal for experimentation. Because the main impact of the tart comes from the chocolate, Medrich encourages trying different chocolates to find your favorite. I used Callebaut's Refined 835NV, which has a 55% cocoa solid content and a pleasantly rounded bittersweet flavor. The tartlets also act as the perfect base for various toppings familiar or exotic. I found a sprinkling of cocoa nibs added crunch and subtle contrast, while chopped hazelnuts and anise seed or dried cherries and chili powder made for interesting combinations (see first photo).

The picnic, at Tomatilla's beautiful house in Lafayette, was a wonderful spread of food and drink, and not least of all, the chance to see some of my favorite bloggers in person. I have to thank Brett, who, upon learning that I had just come from work, kindly sympathized that I must be exhausted. I have to admit that after a few hours of sun, wine, and conversation, I promptly fell asleep when I got home. Until next year, then...

Bittersweet Chocolate Tartlets

adapted from Alice Medrich's BIttersweet

makes (8) 4-in tartlets or about (24) 2-in mini tartlets


8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour


1 cup cream

2 tablespoons sugar

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (between 50% to 60%), chopped

1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour. Mix until just blended. The dough will be very soft and moist.

Gently press the dough into tartlet pans. Medrich calls for (8) 4-in wide by 3/4-in deep fluted tarlet pans. I used a mini muffin tin with (24) 2-in wide by 3/4-in deep cups. Press in the dough as thinly as possible.

Place pans in the oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until the crusts are golden brown (they should be fully baked).

While the tartlet shells are baking, heat the cream and sugar in a small saucepan to boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate and whisk together until combined.

Whisk the egg into the chocolate mixture right before the shells are finished baking.

Remove shells from the oven and turn off the oven. Pour the filling into the shells. Return the tartlets to the oven and leave them there for about 5 to 10 minutes, or when the filling is just beginning to set about the edges.

Place tartlets on a wire rack to cool. If you used individual tartlet pans with removable bottoms the tartlets should be fairly easy to unmold. If you used a muffin tin like me you may have a more difficult time unmolding them, especially if the shells are very thin. If the filling has completely set, you can try placing a sheet pan across the top of tin and flipping it over to unmold them.

Just before serving, sprinkle toppings of your choice on the tartlets, such as: cocoa nibs, chopped nuts, dried cherries, anise seed, chili powder.

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Anita - your little tarts were scrumptious and I noticed that they disappeared so quickly I was unable to go back for seconds! I didn't even have a chance to photograph them. You can make me 'dessert first' anytime!

Seconds Sam! Good thing you didn't get any - since I didn't even get firsts! Just one of the many things I missed out on - but everyone had to miss out on some things - there was just too much!

But there was plenty of great food - I can't exactly complain!

Looks like an excellent choice!

I'm with Owen, I missed out completely! Thought I did appreciate how lovely they looked. I have the Bittersweet book so I will give them a try. Hope to catch up with you again soon!

I missed them as well--but very much enjoyed meeting you!

Wow, they just look perfect! Have to try them!

mmm, these look very nice and rich. what a wonderful get-together.

How nice! It sounds indeed as a lovely evening =)
The tartlets look absolutely amazing (!)
The filling is very ganach-ish, right? I LOVE ganache...
Beautiful how it shines on the photo! =)
Just got a great idea from it...tnx!

Sadly, I don't think we got to meet at the picnic, but those tarts were DE-VINE!
Seriously gurl, open a dessert shop. I'll be first in line!

Sadly, I don't think we got to meet at the picnic, but those tarts were DE-VINE!
Seriously gurl, open a dessert shop. I'll be first in line!

I am having a picnic in my backyard thursday evening, I'll make some, you'll make some and evrybody can have plenty!
Seriously, they look scrumptious, perfect size for an evening al fresco

Delectable! Chocolate tartlets are always crowd long as you have a good quality chocolate :) Which you did!!!

Wow, these look so rich and delicious! Wish I could have one now!

WOW that second picture looks like a chocolate swimming pool I want to dive into. I think I'm having a picnic this afternoon..can you come to New York? True it's raining cats and dogs, but who will notice once they've tasted your delicious chocolate tarts! Having a vicarious YUM here.

How I wish I could have been at this picnic to try these!

Oh luscious! Did you save one for me?!

These look incredible -- worth a trip to the Bay Area!

I have to agree they do look like little chocolate swimming pools :) and they look yummy!

I confess, I ate not one but two of these scrumptious tartlets. The chocolate and pastry combination plus smaller size made them too appealing to resist.

Good to meet you and your SO at the picnic. As promised, I will stop in to say hi the next time I go to the Claremont.

I would skip dinner (and breakfast and lunch too) for one of those chocolate tarts. Dessert first indeed!

J'adore ton blog et tes crations pâtissière!
I love your blog and your sweets creations!
By now you're on my favourite blog list…

I'm glad you were able to snag one - I should have brought more! It was great to see you and I'll be happy to make you dessert anytime!

I'm sorry you didn't get one - thanks so much for hosting such a fabulous picnic! Next time we meet up, I'll be sure you get a helping!

Thank you! I'm glad they turned out so well!

It was good to see you again! Hope you give the recipe a try, they're ridiculously easy!

It was so great to finally meet you! I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts!

Thank you! Hope you try and enjoy them!

Wish you could have been there! If I'm ever return to Japan, we should get together!

Thank you! The filling is a mixture of chocolate and cream with egg, so it's ganache plus a bit more! Hope I'll get to see what your idea is:)

I'm sorry we didn't get to meet either - hopefully soon in the future! I'm glad you liked the tarts - if I open a shop, you'll be the first to know!

I wish I could have been at your picnic - I hope the tarts make an appearance sometime at your place!

Thank you! Chocolate is always popular - but especially with this crowd I didn't want to take any chances!

Thank you! Wish I could have shared some with you that day!

Thank you! When I make it to NYC I will gladly have a picnic with you, regardless of weather!

Wish you could have been there too! Don't worry, I'm thinking up something yummy for your festa as well!

Thanks so much for the compliment! They do look the best just of the oven and still a little jiggly - a swimming pool indeed!
These are so quick to whip up, I'll make you a fresh batch when you come visit!

Thanks so much! If you do visit, I'll be sure to make you some!

Hey, I made them bite sized so they'd be easy to pop in your mouth! It was great to meet you, stop by the cafe anytime!

Thank you! They're small though, so I'm sure you could squeeze them in between meals if necessary:)

Thank you so much! I am exploring your blog, it looks so fascinating! I will be visiting again!

Hey... just whipped up a batch for my wife's birthday party dinner this evening! I was a little concerned at first that I would muck it up, but nope, they came out perfect.

They will certainly impress tonight! Thanks a lot for the inspiration and easy to follow recipe.

They were sublime! I'm glad to know who made them.

I'm glad they turned out so well and you enjoyed them!

Thank you! Hope we get another chance to meet up!

How do I get recipes for some of the pictures on your website? How can I can communicate with you?

I was looking for a chocolate tart recipe and came across this post which looked exactly like what I was looking for. I tried it out tonight and it was fantastic! I did mine in a 9 inch fluted tart pan, sprinkled sea salt on top and drizzled toffee sauce on the side. Thanks for having such a wonderful blog and this recipe in particular.

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