Forgive me in advance for my lack of precision. We have several sets of measuring cups in a kitchen drawer. We have two sets of measuring spoons. We have a kitchen scale. All of this aside, I like to cook by taste. I do not really measure. Well, when I am making quick breads, cookies, and those sorts of things, I will measure the flour and butter, but the rest just gets thrown in. Vanilla - a pour will do. Cinnamon? Depending on the recipe a heavy handed shake or a gentle sift will often take the recipe to a better place. And when it comes to chocolate and cream? I just kind of make it happen. Sometimes my ganache is a little soft for the truffles, but they are going into one's mouth, so who really cares? I do not run a pastry shop, and I am not a trained chef. I am a person who loves to be in the kitchen and play with the ingredients that I have around me. After all, if I spent my live measuring every last drop my life would not be very fun.
However, there times when measuring is critical, and making any kind of pastry dough is one of those times. Dr. H gave me Joanne Chang's Flour Cookbook as a birthday present, and I ordered a set of tartlet pans for myself, so thought that her pâte sucrée recipe would be the perfect fit for the pans and that the tartlets filled with a hazelnut ganache would work perfectly for a party we had some time ago. No surprise - her recipe was a success, and not difficult to make. The dough tastes like a mix between shortbread and pie crust, and has a wonderful buttery flavor and delicate crumble when bitten.
I chose to make a hazelnut ganache for the filling because I love the flavor of the liquor with the melted chocolate, and it is just strong enough to cause a bit of attention. You can make a plain chocolate ganache, use amaretto, rum, etc. While the ration for ganache tends to be 8 oz of chocolate to 4 oz of heavy cream, if you are going to use liquor to flavor the ganache, cut back on the cream a little bit (this is where my measuring because a little less than exact to say the least...)
Joanne's recipe was for a large tart - I made it per her instructions, but just filled out the smaller pans. Due to the fact that it is a crust, I made several pricks in the bottom of the tartlet pan with fork tines, and halfway thru baking, I gently pressed the crust back into the tarts as is does rise a bit.
Pâte Sucrée Recipe
- 1/2 cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale and light. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds. The mixture will look like wet sand. Add the egg yolk and continue to mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough comes together.
Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap (I like Glad Cling Wrap) and refrigerate for about 1 hour. (If you are not going to use this straight away, you can place in a Freezer Safe bag and freeze for up to a month.) Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to soften for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work space (I like our marble slab in the kitchen because it keep the cool temperature). Once you roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick, take the little tart pans and turn them over on the dough. Press them down like cookie cutters to get the exact shape and size you need.
Press the pan down and shake it gently to losen the dough, then flip the pan back right-side-up.
Mold the dough into little tartlet pans - I like to use various shapes to add a variety...
Once you place the dough in the pans, place in the fridge for about 30 minutes so the dough can rest. Once the dough is rested, place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until the dough starts to turn golden brown. If necessary, check about halfway through, and press the dough down into the pan if it is rising too high.
Once baked, place the pans on a cooling rack and allow to completely cool before filling.
8 ounces high quality dark chocolate (I like Callebaut chocolate - 60% and buy most of my chocolate at Chocosphere) chopped into small pieces
3 1/2 ounces heavy cream
3-5 tbsp of Frangelico (depending on taste)
Place the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream until it is almost boiling, and then pour the cream over the chocolate. Stir the chocolate and cream until well combined and the all of the chocolate has melted. Once the chocolate is melted, add the Frangelico and mix well until everything is combined (it does not hurt to taste along the way in order to ensure you have added the right amount of liquor...) Once the ganache has cooled, cover and allow it to set.
Using a pastry bag, pipe the ganache into the cooled pastry shells. Allow the ganache to set in the shells, and then serve. They are best if eaten the same day!