Imagine a buttery chocolate pastry crust so crisp you hear it snap as you cut into it with the side of a fork.  It’s filled with sweet yet tangy homemade raspberry jam that’s smothered in a rich chocolate ganache filling tasting  like the most expensive chocolate pudding in the world.  The creamy chocolate goodness is topped with plump and juicy raspberries that spurt juice into your mouth with every bite, and finished with the finest dusting of powdered sugar, like the sprinkling of the last snow of the season.

Now stop imagining, because I promise, you can make this!


Trust me!  It sounds expensive, extravagant, and experience requiring (sorry, only other “E” word I could think of) but it’s not.  This chocolate raspberry tart is so easy to make, that I did it while I was sick with bronchitis (or something like that, I’m seeing a doctor tomorrow).  It’s a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert, but tastes great year round.  I decided it was definitely meant for my Valentine, because as I spooned the jam into the shell, it made a perfect heart all on its own!

I made these as a surprise for Eric, told him I had a wonderful dessert made for him, and then gasped in shock as he asked “Is it Chocolate Raspberry Tartlettes?”.  That’s when he pointed to the Art and Soul of Baking cookbook I had left open on the chair next to the kitchen.  Umm, yes, that’s one way to spoil a surprise.  Fortunately there was no photo in the book, and so he was still super impressed when I presented him with the tart.

There are two things you must make from scratch for this recipe, the crust, and the ganache.  Ganache sounds fancy, but it’s simply heavy cream and chocolate.  We’re talking decadent!  This was my first time making it, and I have to confess that I started eating it with a spoon. *OINK!*  It takes only a few minutes to make ganache and I think it’s my new favorite filling, icing, pudding, condiment, whatever.

The crust is really simple, I made it the night before and pressed it into the pans immediately so that they’d be ready to bake and fill the next day.  I’m used to a chocolate crust being made from crushed chocolate cookies, but this was SO much better.  Not only do I know exactly what ingredients are in it (unlike cookies from a store), but the cocoa powder I used gave it a more subtle but better flavor.

The original recipe is for making fifteen 2.5 inch mini tartlettes. I made three 4.5  inch tarts, but even if you don’t have tart pans, you can still use this recipe.  Simply press the crust into a small pie pan and follow the same instructions without dividing everything into thirds.  I like this better as a tart because it looks so beautiful, but it works great as chocolate pie.

The quality of this dessert depends on your ingredients.  I had some high quality cocoa powder and dark chocolate on hand from a previous recipe, but you can use what you find in a local grocery store.  If you have a Trader Joe’s, their Pound Plus dark chocolate is one of my favorites for baking.  It’s also CHEAP!  Godiva cocoa powder is a great option for the crust.  If you have homemade raspberry jam like I did, more power to you!  If not, just use store bought.

The little touches make a big difference, make sure you brush the raspberries with warm jam.  It seems like a little step, but really makes them glow and brings out their juiciness.  Also, dusting it with powdered sugar makes a big difference in presentation (and can cover up any flaws in the setting of your ganache).  Okay, enough of my gabbing, get in the kitchen!

Chocolate Raspberry Tart Recipe *

makes three 4.5 inch tarts

Ingredients

1 stick (4 oz) softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup raspberry jam
4 oz semisweet dark chocolate finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1/2 tsp water
powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy.  Use a spatula to scrape down the bowl and beat another minute if there are any lumps of butter left.  Add the egg yolk, beat well, and scrape down the sides again.

Add the flour and cocoa powder, beat on the lowest speed until dough has just come together (but still has small to medium clumps) and looks moist with a dark uniform color.  Scrape down the bowl and use the spatula to incorporate anything that isn’t mixed in.

Divide dough into three parts and place into three 4.5 inch tart pans with removable bottoms.  Use the heel of your hand to evenly press dough and spread along the bottom of the pan and up the sides. ( if you’re having trouble, refrigerate the dough 15 minutes before pressing)

Use a knife to cut off any dough the rises above the top of the pan, and save dough for repairs.  Place the dough filled pans into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  (It can keep 3 days in fridge and 6 weeks in freezer).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the lower third.  Place dough filled pans on a cookie sheet and bake in lower third for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and use leftover dough to repair any cracks.  Bake another 8 minutes.

Remove tart pans to a cooling rack and use the rounded side of a spoon to press the center down and make more room for filling.  Let cool completely (you can do this in refrigerator for faster results).

Set a TBS of the jam aside in a small bowl or glass.  Spoon 1/3 of remaining jam into each tart crust and spread to cover the bottom.

Put chopped chocolate into a heat safe bowl and the heavy cream in a small saucepan.  Heat the cream until it just starts to boil, then pour it over the chocolate.  Begin whisking gently to blend completely and melt all the chocolate.  Pour 1/3 of the ganache into each crust.

Refrigerate the tarts for at least 1 hour, until the filling is firm.  Remove from fridge and arrange raspberries on top of each tart.

Mix reserved TBS of jam with the 1/2 tsp of water and heat in a microwave for about 15 seconds.  Brush this jam mixture onto the tops of the arranged raspberries (just enough to make them shiny!).  Serve immediately or refrigerate until you’re ready.  Use a mesh strainer to sift a dusting of sugar onto the tarts just before serving.

*(adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking)

Approximate cost/serving:  Raspberries were the most expensive ingredient at $4.  This will be cheaper once they’re really in season.  The whole recipe cost me $6.10 to make 3 tarts.  Each one easily feeds 2 people, even 3 people!  If you have 2 people per tart, that’s just $1 a serving for a decadent dessert!

Vegetarian: There are eggs, butter and cream, but no meat of course.


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