April 19,2018 - Berry and Chocolate Tarts

As the weather warms, pastry cases become adorned with those gorgeous tarts filled with silky custard and studded with the bright contrast of berries. There's nothing more succulently healthy on the dessert menu this time of year!

But why not reward yourself with the satisfaction of making your own?  It's easy, and you can even ramp up the health benefits by making a nut pastry, which adds a delightful earthy flavour to the tarts.

Here's my start for the year, using hazelnuts (filberts) for the pastry.  If you use macadamia nuts, no one would ever know it's not butter, and they are loaded with mono-unsaturated oils, not to mention lots of other minerals and vitamins, like all other tree nuts. Oh yes...... for the filling I made a dark chocolate alternative - just to get in some lovely antioxidants! (nothing to do with flavour 😂)

Photo credit - Andy Berry

Hazelnuts and chocolate partner in this lush dessert, finished with a touch of fruit to make a gorgeous summer treat.  Feel free to adjust the balance of milk and dark chocolate to your own preference.

Berry and Chocolate Tarts

Serves 8

1/2 cup roasted hazel nuts
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup corn starch
3 tablespoons butter (my preference are butters from France, Ireland or New Zealand)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten  (please, eggs that get to roam on open land please)

Chocolate filling
6 ounces  dark chocolate pieces
2 ounces milk chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
7 ounces whipping cream

To serve
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or Mascarpone, optional
Raspberries, blueberries or other berries of choice

1.     To make the pastry, place the hazelnuts in a food processor and process to a coarse crumb. Remove from processor and set aside.  Add the flour, cornstarch, sugar and butter to the food processor and process to a fine crumb. Add the hazelnuts and pulse a few times to incorporate

2.     Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease and dust individual tart tins or 1 large flan.

3.     Add the egg and pulse on and off a few times  until the mixture just starts to come together.  Transfer to a well-floured board and knead gently to a smooth dough.

4.     Roll out pastry to fit tin, prick base several times with a fork, line base with foil or parchment and cover with dry beans or rice and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and beans and continue to bake 3-5 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool.  These can be stored up to a week in a sealed container before using.

5.     To make the filling, place chocolate in a large microwave proof bowl or in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (not touching water).  Melt in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on medium, stirring halfway through, or over water, stirring until melted. Stir in the vanilla extract, then sift over the powdered sugar, and stir through. Whip the cream until it just holds peaks, then fold into the melted chocolate. Pour into the pastry cases, and smooth the top. Chill for at least 2 hours or for up to 2 days.

6.     To serve, top with Crème Fraiche, if using, and the fruit.  Sprinkle with a little powdered chocolate and enjoy!


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