Thursday, June 27, 2013

Almond Joy Tarts

Give A Little Love by The Mostar Diving Club
I love getting new band suggestions.  I listen to all sorts of music and love to troll the iTunes store, linking my way through the "Hey, if you bought this, you'd probably like this" cues.  Aaaand next thing you know I've lost about an hour of my day, my credit card bill has a few added lines under the Purchases column, and my iTunes library is even more awesome than it was before!  One of my richest sources for new bands are the daughters of my dear friend, Lara.  And, not too long ago, they put me on to the music of The Mostar Diving Club. The band's Facebook page lists Damian Katkhuda and Will Worsley as the band members.  I love their description of their genre.  It says "Quirky Acoustic."  Which is exactly why it appeals to me so much!  Thanks, girls, for sharing your finds ~ again!  And Happy Birthday to Emily!  Read on ~

This past week my friend, Lara, said that her daughter Emily's birthday was coming up and when asked what she would like to do for her special day, she replied that she thought it would be fun to go over to Janice's house and make lunch together!  

Cue the "Awwwww!"

It did give me enormous pleasure that a teenager would think that spending the afternoon preparing and then enjoying a lunch was fun!  It restores my hope and faith in the future!

But, we must consider the source.  And, if you'll permit me just a few minutes of your time, I'd like to introduce you to Emily.
(I love this pic that her Mom took for her graduation announcement.  
I was lame and forgot to take pics of anything other than food during the lunch!)
Of course, the first thing you probably thought was that I stole this photo from the Boden catalog or something and that I am inventing this "Emily" girl.  I'm not.  She's for real!  Emily has just graduated from high school.  She is a very interesting and fun girl with whom I enjoy conversing about any and all topics.  My most favorite thing about Emily is her confidence.  Some girls think it's cute and clever to be wishy-washy.  I remember my brief attempt at the wishy-washy when I was a teen - my dad nipped it right in the bud, letting me know that I had a marvelous brain and shouldn't be afraid to let that show.  My father would love visiting with Emily - and that's praise enough indeed!  Emily has her opinions and owns them.  With confidence she lets her creativity flow.  With confidence she dares to try things that are new.  And that is why I look forward to watching Emily soar off into life and seeing where her confidence will take her.  Some of the adventures in her docket are serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and then go to college.  Wherever she goes, whatever she does, those around her will be able to witness this remarkable girl taking life by storm!  
Lucky world, here she comes!

For her birthday lunch we made savory tarts like these ones.  We filled ours with potatoes and Boursin and asparagus and bacon.  Delicious!  They brought a lovely green salad to go with the tarts.  Now, I don't mean to rush through the meal - because it was truly sigh-inducing delicious - but I'm really excited about the dessert!  And that's the recipe I want to share with you today!

When I asked Lara what Emily liked on the sweet scale, I was very happy to hear that chocolate was the first word out of her mouth!  See?!  I told you - I love this girl!

I wanted something that was going to have a presentation to it.  And I eventually settled on coming up with some sort of a chocolate tart so I could use these really cute little tart pans I have!

I made up a 1-2-3 cookie dough - it's a short dough that's buttery and can be pressed into whatever shape of pan you have.  Check!  I wanted a filling.  Lara had said another ingredient Emily liked was coconut.  Ok.  I had that coconut recipe from the Cherry Chocolate Sushi I made last February that would work beautifully and the Almond Joy idea came to mind!  Check!  Chocolate filling - do you know me at all?  Ganache, of course!  Check!  Check!  Check!  A dollop of whipped cream on top with some toasted almond slices and we have Almond Joy Tarts!
This is how they looked when I served them at the lunch. 
We prebaked the crusts then filled them with a small clump of the coconut mixture.
I had put some of the ganache in first to help the coconut get a good grip on the shell.
They looked good when I ladled the ganache in.
They just weren't looking like how I had envisioned them in my head.
And then, to top it off, the crust was really thick and hard to cut through.  
AND, although these are only 4" tarts, one tart was alot for one person - well for some people.
So I puzzled over these tarts and decided that the ingredients were all great - the methodology just needed a little work.

So next time I used less dough for the shell but added more coconut filling.  I flattened it out into a disc that covered the bottom of the shell.  It would still be a good idea to spread a little ganache on the shell first, if you're so inclined.
Then I poured the ganache over the top.
Now THIS was more of what I was looking for - no poky tips coming up from the insides.
Just beautiful smooth milk chocolate ganache!
You could serve them, straight from their tart forms like this:
Or you could also serve them in darling little triangles like this:
Now that's a party!
Look at that fabulous coconut layer!
Happy Birthday, Emily!  And thanks for letting me share in your day!

Almond Joy Tarts
makes 6 - 8  4" tarts
1/2 c. sugar (114 g)
1 c. butter, softened (227 g)
1 t. almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 c. cake flour (340 g)(you can use all-purpose, just replace 3 T. of flour with cornstarch)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the sugar and butter in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy - about 5 minutes.  Add the extract and the egg and mix until blended.  Add the flour all at once and mix just until the mixture comes together.  It will be a bit clumpy.

Place 3 oz. (75-80 g) of the dough into each tart shell and press evenly up the sides and across the bottom, being sure that the corners don't get too heavy of a coating.  Prick each tart with a fork and place the tarts on a sheet tray and bake 15 - 20 minutes - until they are lightly golden.  Set aside to cool.

Coconut Filling:
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 t. kosher salt
2 t. butter
6 oz. shredded coconut

Place the shredded coconut in a heatproof bowl that gives you plenty of room to stir.  Heat the corn syrup, sugar, salt, and butter in a sauce pan and stir ingredients to mix.  Bring to a boil and cook until it reaches 230 degrees.  At this point, remove the liquid from the heat and pour over the coconut in the bowl and stir, working quickly, until all the coconut is coated.  Set aside and let cool.

When coconut is cool work about 1/4 c. of the coconut into a flat disc that would fit into the bottom of the tart pan and press it down in.  Set aside.

Chocolate Ganache:
12 oz. bag of milk chocolate chips
1 c. heavy cream

Place the chocolate chips in the bowl of a food processor and pulse.  This will make a very loud racket!!  But it's all for a good cause!

Heat the heavy cream in a sauce pan just until bubbles start to form around edge of cream.  Remove and, while the processor is running, gradually pour the hot cream down the chute into the chocolate chips.  The noise will subside and will be replaced with the soft whispers of gooey fudgy chocolate!  Be sure to continue processing until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth as silk.

Pour the ganache over the coconut-filled tarts.  Let sit until the ganache firms up.  You can put them in the fridge to speed up the process.

If you want to top with whipped cream, just whip 1 cup of heavy cream until it holds peaks.  Sprinkle in 1 T. sugar and 1/4 t. almond extract and whip to combine.  Place a dollop on each tart and sprinkle with some toasted almonds!  Enjoy!!

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