The second recipe chosen for February for the Baking with Julia group definitely had me a little more excited than the white bread recipe that we tried a couple of weeks ago. I had the 4 1/2 inch fluted tart pans required for the recipe, and since I needed something rich and chocolatey to serve my special someone on Valentine's Day, this was perfect.
It wasn't hard to decide whether to use store-bought or homemade biscotti for this recipe. The biscotti is what gets mixed with chunks of two different kinds of chocolate plus a third kind that is melted with butter, to make the filling. I love to make biscotti and I was long overdue for making some. I had printed out a recipe quite a while back, and it had been sitting on my counter for months begging to be made. The recipe is for Coffee-Hazelnut Biscotti, a recipe created by Dorie Greenspan which I found here.
I was a little worried whether these biscotti would work OK in the tartlets, because they were a bit crunchy. I had used Hodgson Mill Stone-Ground cornmeal in the biscotti, and it is a little coarser than good 'ole Quaker Corn Meal that comes in the blue & yellow cardboard tube. The biscotti were perfect w/ my coffee in the mornings though, and I was so happy to have a small stash of biscotti again. Hubby thought they were a bit too nutty tasting, so he didn't bother them much (he's not a coffee drinker, but is known to steal my biscotti to nibble on if they're to his liking).
I made up my biscotti on Friday and then made the tartlets on the following Monday. I was a little nervous about making the chocolate dough for these tartlets, so I was thrilled to see a link to a You Tube video, in our P & Q post, which showed the episode on PBS TV in which David Ogonowski, the contributing baker for this recipe, makes the tartlets for Julia Child. I felt kind of bad that I had succumbed to my desire to see exactly how he did it, and therefore provide myself unfair advantage in making this recipe, but any guilty feelings I had quickly disappeared. The video was very helpful, and it made me feel more at ease after having watched David make the tartlets.
I felt more confident after watching how easily David made his chocolate dough, but not so confident that I was going to combine my flour, cocoa powder, salt, etc. together in a pile on my counter and then plop the egg and water into a well made in the middle. I opted to mix by hand, but I cheated and did it in a glass bowl:) Richard Prince, the instructor for a pie class I took once, emphasized that the best kitchen tool we have is our hands, so I figured my hands would give the best results for the dough.
The dough was definitely crumbly and not very cohesive when I first finished mixing it, but I squished it together the best I could, preparing two packets of dough to be chilled, one for the fridge for 3 tartlets now, and one packet for the freezer, for 3 tartlets (a different kind) later.
The dough was rather sticky and delicate for rolling into little circles to fit into the tartlet pans, but I just mustered all the patience I could, and worked slowly and carefully. I did have to do some patching, but it wasn't too bad. I was just making sure that I didn't have any thin spots in my crusts in case the filling would leak through.
The hardest part of the filling was all the cookie and chocolate chopping. Cracking all the eggs and melting more chocolate with butter was also time consuming. It makes my back ache just talking about it:) I'm glad I was only making half of the recipe!
I thought the swirling together of the beaten egg yolks and the melted chocolate mixture was so pretty. I was mesmerized by it, and could've stood there quite a while watching it play together in the bowl.
These looked good enough to eat already!! I almost didn't bake them, and wanted to just start eating the filling, with its chunks of chocolate and bits of coffee-hazelnut biscotti.
They baked up in the oven for about 13 or 14 minutes. I went just a bit longer than the time in the book, because they still looked wet on top, not dry.
I wanted to make them special for Valentine's Day so I pulled out some as yet unused stencils I had picked up last year, and used confectioners' sugar to dust heart patterns on our tartlets.
I added a sliced strawberry to the top of each one, since several people commented that it was rich and it needed something to break up the chocolate flavor. I just can't do ice cream in the middle of winter when the average temperature is 40° outside, so I decided on fruit instead. Raspberries or strawberries seemed a suitable substitute.
I finished baking my tartlets off early in the afternoon and after they had completely cooled I covered them, and placed the pan in the fridge so they could firm up a bit if needed. Then I let the tartlets come to room temperature while we ate dinner.
We didn't speak much during dessert. We just kept mumbling, 'Mmmmmm, Mmmmm'. The biscotti I made worked perfectly in these tartlets. We couldn't even detect the crunchiness from the cornmeal. The tartlet filling was firm, but really smooth and truffle like. We were so stuffed after eating them, we thought we would explode. They were very filling! We split the third one for dessert the next night and it was just as good.
If you'd like to see how these tartlets turned out for others in the group, then click here. If you'd like to make these tartlets for yourself, our hosts for this recipe are Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon, Spike of Spike Bakes, Jaime of Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats and Jessica of Cook Book Habit. I believe they will all have the recipe included in their blog posts for February 21.
Until March 6, when we get to make Rugelach!