Mexican Chocolate Chili Tarts

Everyone in our house is a spice head. The lazy Susan on our kitchen table has about 10 different bottles of hot sauce ranging from “hot” to nuclear. Guess which bottle is the most empty.  My son and I are on a secret mission to turn his girlfriend into a chili head. She does not like spicy food, so of course every time she tries something I make she first asks if it is spicy. We keep trying to up the spice in things we give her so we can get her to join our club. I know it’s just a matter of time. Enter the chocolate tart…dun dun dun.

You can tailor these tarts to suite your level of spice. When you get to the point where you add the spices, then keep adding in pinches of spice to you get the heat you prefer. This past weekend I was catering a Mexican fiesta for a friend and she asked me to do the desserts. I made 4 different mini treats and these chocolate tarts were one of them. They were the first to go empty on the platter! I was kind of shocked because I assumed they would be the treat people would shy away from. There were children at the party so I didn’t make them super spicy; just a hint. Well guess who ate several of them? Yup, my son’s girlfriend. She loved em! And I’m a big fan too! They are super easy to make. A great tool to have when making them is a tart tamper-it helps with getting the chocolate crumb nice and flat-the small end fits perfectly in the wells of a mini muffin tin. This is the one I use below found on Amazon.

 

 

Mexican Chocolate Chili Tarts

yield~ 34 tarts 

Chocolate Filling

4 oz. Milk Chocolate Chips (I like Guittard or Ghirardelli)

4 oz. Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

2/3 Cup heavy whipping cream

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp chili powder

3-5 pinches of cayenne pepper

Prepare the mini muffin wells with the chocolate crumb layer below.

In a heat proof bowl place both the chocolate chips. Heat the cream to a scald, then pour over the chips and allow the mixture to sit for 3 minutes, then stir gently from the middle out until combined. If you see a few small bits of un melted chocolate, then place in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds at a time and stir to combine. Stir in salt and spices. Taste the filling, and add in extra pinches of cayenne as desired for heat level. Pour the filling into each well of the prepared crumb layer. Allow to cool to room temperature then place uncovered into the fridge to set. Decorate as desired with chocolate pearls or dist with chocolate powder. Serve tarts at room temperature.

Chocolate Crumb

1 1/2 Cups Chocolate graham crackers

2 Tbsp sugar

6 Tbsp unsalted butter

Mix the crumb ingredients together and line mini muffin wells with paper liners. Measure out 1 level measuring Tablespoon of crumb mixture and press into the liners. If you have a tart tamper this is ideal. Bake the crumb layer in a preheated 350° F oven for 6 minutes. Crumb crust will puff up and after removing from oven, use the tamper again to press back down; being careful not to burn yourself (wear an oven mitt when doing so). Allow the tray to cool over a wire rack then fill with the chocolate filling.

 

 

 


Chocolate Peanut Butter Snickers Pie

I picked up the latest special issue from Bake From Scratch dedicated to “Artisan pies and tarts”. I love this magazine-it has become one of my all time favorites. Their peanut butter pie on page 56, is a virtual no bake pie- only a quick trip in the oven for the crust and the rest is no bake. Perfect for summer in this August sweltering heat.  I adapted the recipe slightly by adding in some mini snickers bites. I was not able to find the preferred Famous brand chocolate wafer cookie so often used in chocolate crust recipes so I ended up swapping in chocolate graham cracker crumbs and bumped up the melted butter a titch as well as adding in a bit of cocoa powder. If you can find the Famous brand chocolate wafer cookies they lend a deeper chocolate flavor for the crust. This pie is rich and super creamy so a little slice with a cup of hot coffee will do you just fine! Allow it to sit for a few minutes out of the fridge before diving in to allow the chocolate ganache on the bottom to soften. Peanut butter lovers will adore this pie!

 

Pour half of the filling over the ganache, then push the Snickers bites into the filling, then top with the other half of the filling. If you can’t find them, you can just chop up regular Snickers.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Snickers Pie

recipe adapted slightly from special issue “Artisan pies and tarts”  Peanut Butter Pie (Bake From Scratch)

Chocolate Crumb Crust

1  1/2 Cups chocolate cookie crumbs (either Famous chocolate wafers or chocolate graham cracker crumbs*)

7 Tbsp. melted butter

1/4 C sugar

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder* (add only if using choc. graham cracker crumbs)

 

In a food processor blitz the cookies/crackers along with the sugar and salt, and (cocoa powder if using) until the mixture is fine. Add in the melted butter and pulse until incorporated. Pour the crust into a standard size 9 inch pie plate and press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides. Bake in a 350° F preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until cooled completely.

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz. 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I used Ghirardelli brand)

1/4 C heavy whipping cream

Microwave the chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl on high in 20 second intervals, stirring in between until mixture is smooth and melted.

Peanut Butter Snickers Filling

8 oz. cream cheese, room temp

1 C creamy peanut butter

1/2 C roasted salted peanuts, chopped

1/4 C sugar

1/4 honey

1 C heavy whipping cream

~ 27-28 Snickers baking bites (I found them in the baking aisle)

• In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat one cup of the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

• Using the same bowl (no need to wash) switch to the paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth; stopping to scrape the bottom and sides as needed. Add in the peanuts, sugar, and honey and contine to beat until combined. Fold in one-third of the reserved whipped cream from step one, and continue to fold in the rest of the whipped cream.

• Assembly: Pour the ganache in the bottom of the crust and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Pour in half of the peanut butter filling, and smooth til flat, then top with about 28 of the Snickers bites. Pour on the rest of the filling and smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Chill the pie for at least 3 hours. Top with whipped cream if desired and top with chopped Snickers- (I used the same snickers baking bites and cut them in half for the garnish).

 

 


Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

I have to admit- plums are not exactly one of my favorite fruit. When I do eat a plum though, I like it super ripe and juicy-to the point where you have to lean over the sink to enjoy it. I tend to like the kind with the red flesh (and I can never remember which type it is by looking at the skin).  I’m more of a prune lover (don’t judge my Granny ways), but when I saw this recipe from last years Fall issue of Sift it caught my attention. Plums are bursting in the stores right now, so now is the time to strike! I adore a good streusel pie. My child groans when I make a pie without a top crust, but I love texture-so a pie with streusel? I’m in.  I’m all about that crunch, bout that crunch, bout that crunch, so I amped up the crunch factor by adding walnuts to my streusel. There’s something about biting into a bite of pie with that soft warm oozy filling and topping of yummy crunchy crust. I skipped ice cream and went with an ice cold glass of milk and it was divine.

Note: I let my plums become very ripe (on purpose) when I made this pie and as a result I used 3 Tbsp. of tapioca because of the extra juice generated, and it set up nicely. The original recipe calls for only 2 Tbsp., so you decide. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator.

Plum and ginger streusel pie

The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the filling is a  gorgeous ruby red color

Plum Ginger Streusel Pie

Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

recipe adapted from: Sift 2015 Fall issue 

1/2 recipe fearless pie crust (or your favorite crust)

Roll out crust and line a 9 inch pie plate and crimp edge as desired. Brush the inside of the crust with beaten egg white (it prevents the crust from getting soggy).  Chill crust for at least 30 minutes before filling.

Fifteen minutes before assembling pie make filling and preheat oven to 375° F

Spoon filling into crust and top with streusel. Place onto a sheet pan to catch any drippings. Bake at 375° F for about 50 minutes or until filling is bubbling and streusel is golden brown. Cover crust halfway through with tinfoil if crust getting too brown.

Filling:

2  1/4 lbs (4 Cups/about 10-11) coarsely chopped ripe (I used very ripe)  black/purple skin plums; skins left on

1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar

2-3 Tbsp. instant (quick cooking) tapioca (I used 3, see above note)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 (heaping) Tbsp. finely chopped crystalized ginger

1 tsp. lemon zest

Combine plums, brown sugar, crystalized ginger, tapioca, spices and lemon zest. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Streusel

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

3/4 Cup flour

pinch salt

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, chopped

3/4 Cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Combine first 4 ingredients, then cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in walnuts, and set aside.


Passion Fruit Curd Tarts

Mini Passion Fruit Curd Tarts with Meringue

 

passion fruit tarts 2

Thank you my loyal followers for stopping by to read my blog. I know I’ve been kind of absent and have not posted as often lately. I recently had back surgery-3 weeks ago,  and I’m still trying to recover and I am not able to stand for very long still, so thank you for being patient! On to the subject at hand!

One of the beauties of this recipe is that you can make it in stages. You can make the tart shells ahead of time and keep them at room temperature in a covered container, and you can make the curd a day or two ahead and keep it stored in the refrigerator, so you don’t have to make it all on the same day; (perfect when your body is not cooperating such as mine).

I am absolutely crazy for passion fruit and I love it beyond words. I know unless you live near or below the equator it can be hard to find. If you cannot find fresh passion fruit you can use the frozen variety that you can find in either Hispanic or Asian markets that allow you to thaw it. One particular brand is Goya, which is a great brand.

I love these little tarts because the tangy tart but sweet floral taste of the passion fruit pairs nicely with the billowy marshmallow like meringue. I read online that it is possible to grow passion fruit vines here in Arizona. Hmmm, that is something to think about!

passion fruit tarts

 

fresh passion fruit

If you’re not familiar with passion fruit- the juice or “puree” is housed inside the seed pockets. Buy the fruit when it is as it’s ugliest- meaning, when it is wrinkly then they are ripe. You have to scrape out the fleshy pods and the juice will burst open. Smush it through a strainer to get the best consistency. The seeds or “pips” are edible. Some people do not care for the seeds, so mostly they are discarded. Other times you will see that a few seeds are left in a recipe, for visual appeal, but not usually all. Your choice!

 

Passion Fruit Curd Tarts

yield 6-8 three inch tarts

Short Bread Tart Dough

Note: this recipe makes enough for 12 individual tarts or one 9 inch tart (so freeze the remainder or cut the recipe in half to make 6 tarts)

1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1/3 C  confectioners sugar

1  1/2 C all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

lightly beaten egg white

In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed; cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the vanilla bean paste and combine briefly until smooth. In a small bowl whisk the flour and salt to combine. Add the flour mixture on medium low speed until the mixture is almost combined; there will be some bits at the bottom of the bowl. Stop the mixer and with your hands lightly  mix the dough together to incorporate any little bits until it is combined.

Measure a size ball of dough about a ping pong ball size and press the dough into the tart pans/rings until it looks fairly even. Chill the crust for at least 30 minutes before you bake them. I chill mine an hour so it helps prevent the crust from shrinking when baked. Once the crust has chilled, dock the bottom of the crust very well all over with the tines of a fork and blind bake the shells. Bake at 350 º F for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust looks no longer wet. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the bottom of the tart shells lightly with a beaten egg white. The egg white will prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the crusts cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Passion Fruit Curd

(yield: ~ 2 cups)

1/2 Cup passion fruit puree, divided

1 tsp. powdered gelatin

1 Cup sugar

1 large egg

2 egg yolks

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

 

1.  a small bowl measure out 2 tablespoons of the passion fruit puree and sprinkle the gelatin over and set aside to bloom. Keep the rest of the puree for the remainder of the recipe in step 2.

2. Place the remaining passion fruit puree, sugar, egg, egg yolks, and salt in a saucepan and whisk over medium heat until mixture reaches 160° F. Remove from the heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin until combined. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and stir in the butter. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap directly over the surface and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Note: you will have some curd leftover which you can freeze or store in the fridge to spread on scones etc. or stir into yogurt (coconut yogurt in particular is fabulous!) You can also stir curd into vanilla buttercream to make passion fruit buttercream.

Swiss Meringue

3 large egg whites

3/4 Cup sugar

Place the whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl (I use the bowl of the stand mixer) and place over a bain marie and whisk while heating until the sugar is dissolved and temperature is around 160° F. Remove from the heat and whisk until the mixture is billowy and fluffy and resembles marshmallow.

 

To assemble tarts:

Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of chilled curd into each tart shell. Top with a heaping scoop of meringue, and pull up with a knife to achieve some spikes or swirls.  Use a hand held torch to brown the meringues. Serve immediately. Store any leftover tarts in the fridge.

 


Strawberry Blackberry Galette

 

Strawberry Blackberry Galette

I’ve said it before, but it’s true. I always have a pie crust or two sitting idle in my freezer for such an impromptu idea as whipping together a quick simple pie or tart. Cruising through the store the other day the strawberries and blackberries were on sale and they looked divine, so I picked up a few cartons. Summer is all about simplicity when it comes to desserts and this is no exception. When you make a pie crust, get in the habit of making double and park that crust (wrapped really well in plastic wrap) in the freezer. Crust is the most time consuming part when it comes to whipping a pie together. The filling is the easy part, especially when it comes to berries because unlike say apples, there is minimal prep work. This simple pie would also work with throwing in some blueberries as well in place of some of the strawberries. Take note that because the strawberries carry a lot of liquid, the pie is best eaten the day it is made.

 

Strawberry Galette

It’s best eaten when the filling is still warm and the crust is crispy. Vanilla ice cream optional. Mmmm

Summer Galette

Strawberry-Blackberry Galette

1/2 recipe fearless pie crust (or your favorite pie crust)

3  1/2 C  fresh berries (mixture of strawberries and blackberries)

1/3 C sugar + more for sprinkling edge of pie crust

1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1/2 C almond meal

1 tsp. orange zest

heavy cream (or half and half for brushing pie crust)

1  1/2 Tbsp. Seedless Strawberry or Raspberry Jam for finishing

 

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll out pie crust to approx. 1/8 inch thickness. Place the pie crust onto the prepared sheet pan.  Toss the almond meal, flour and orange zest together and sprinkle onto the rolled out pie crust, leaving about a 2 inch border.

Wash and dry the berries. Cut the strawberries in half or quarters depending on size. Aim for the same size as the blackberries.  I found strawberries that were really small in size so I just halved them (leave the blackberries whole). Toss the berries with the sugar (right before you assemble the pie).  Place the berries onto the bed of the almond meal mixture in a nice high pile and fold in the sides of the pie crust, pressing lightly. Brush the crust with the cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the pie in a preheated oven for approx. 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Note: you may need to cover the pie with tinfoil for the last 10 minutes or so if the crust is getting browned too quickly.

In a small bowl mix the jam vigorously to smooth out any lumps. Allow the pie to cool slightly then brush with jam  and serve warm.


Peach Pie

Groovy Peach Pie

There is something about eating a juicy ripe peach hunched over the sink. I am talkin’ about a really ripe peach, the kind that you NEED to eat over the sink because the juice is dripping down your hand and arm. When you get a good one, you feel like it’s finally Summer. If you can score some peaches picked at the peak of their flavor burst then treat yourself and your family and make a beautiful pie.


mini peach pies

Peach Pie 4

 Groovy Peach Pie 2

Peach Pie

1 Recipe Fearless Pie Crust or your favorite pie crust recipe

Filling:

9-10 medium size fresh ripe peaches (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 Cup flour

3/4 Cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling top of pie

1/4 Cup light brown sugar, packed

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

For assembling pie:

egg white, lightly beaten

sugar

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1. Make the pie dough and allow to chill for at least 30 minute before attempting to roll out. Roll out dough and line a 9 inch pie plate. Brush the bottom and sides with beaten egg white and return to chill in fridge for another 30 minutes (the chill ensures that the crust does not shrink, and the egg white ensures that the bottom does not become soggy). While the dough is chilling make the filling.

2. Make filling: In a large mixing bowl combine the peach slices with the lemon juice and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, sugars, spices and salt with a fork. Pour the flour mixture over the peach slices and toss gently to coat.

3. Pour the filling into the chilled and prepared crust. Note: If you choose to make muffin size individual pies it is best to cut the peaches into a coarse chop instead of slices. Dot the filling with little pieces of the butter, then cover with either “groovy” flower cut outs as I have done here, or top with crust and crimp and decorate as desired. If using a top crust, make sure to pierce the top with some slits to allow steam. Brush top of cut outs (and/or top crust) with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a preheated 425° F oven for 10 minutes, then decrease to 375° F and continue to bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown and center is not loose. Cover edge of pie with either a pie shield or tin foil as necessary to prevent crust from burning.

4. Note: if you want to make muffin size mini pies;  bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. To prepare muffin size pies: spray muffin tin with baking spray and line and fill as above.


Cajun Chicken Pies

cajun chicken pie

Who doesn’t love a good “pot pie?” The Husband, that’s who. When I first got married The Husband informed me “Never make chicken pot pie”. That was the only food flare he shot up. Now, this is a man who will EAT ANYTHING, and I do mean anything. I mean, he hails from Taiwan- the island of stinky tofu for God’s sake. He’s like a clone of Andrew Zimmern, the man would eat rattlesnake if I served it. The back story behind this aversion to the pot pie stems from his childhood. You see, apparently growing up, every Friday night (or maybe more-and I’m sure he’ll clarify it after reading this) his parents would go out to fulfill military social obligations and leave him a frozen pot pie to heat and eat. This little ritual went on for a number of years, hence the extreme aversion. These little gems aren’t really a pot pie. No scary peas and carrots hiding inside. Think of them as an individual pocket of spicy Cajun goodness. Filled with juicy chicken, fresh summer sweet corn, onion, fire roasted red pepper, cilantro and lots of Cajun spice, and topped off with a Serrano chili (if you dare). What’s not to love?!

cajun chicken pies

individual cajun chicken pie

filled cajun pies

cajun chicken filling

I mean, seriously, does this filling not look good, or what? there is nothing to fear…

Individual Cajun Chicken Pies

recipe adapted from “Pocket Pies” by Pamela Clark

yield: 4 individual “Texas size” muffin pies

Short crust Pastry:

1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

4 oz. cold, butter chopped, kept cold

1 egg yolk

2 Tbsp. ice water (approx.)

In a food processor place the flour and salt and pulse a few times. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add yolk and 1 1/2 Tbsp. water and pulse until dough comes barely together, and add more water as necessary. Knead pastry lightly on a floured board until smooth. Press into a flat circle and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough for 30 minutes before attempting to roll out.

Filling:

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 fresh corn cob, kernels removed (if you don’t want to use fresh you can substitute 1 cup frozen corn kernels)

2 garlic cloves, chopped fine

2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I like “Slap Ya Mama” brand- can be found at Cost Plus Markets)

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces

2 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1/4 Cup diced roasted red pepper (purchased in jar)

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

3/4 Cup chicken broth

2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

fresh Serrano chilies (optional)

For egg wash: one egg beaten

1. Heat olive oil in large saute pan add onion, corn and garlic and cook over medium heat until onion softens. Add Cajun seasoning and saute for 1-2 minutes. Remove to a bowl.

2. Heat another 1 Tbsp. oil in the same pan and add chicken and seasoning. Cook the chicken until browned. Stir in the diced red pepper. Add the flour and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture thickens. Stir in the onion corn mixture and stir. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust any seasoning as necessary (I actually added a sprinkling of cayenne and paprika). Remove to a bowl and allow to cool before assembling pies.

3. Note: if you don’t want to make fresh pastry dough you can also use purchased pie dough, or purchased empanada dough rounds. You could also use puff pastry dough and make hand pies.

To assemble and bake:

Brush or spray 4 wells of a texas size muffin pan. Cut out 4 rounds of dough into 5 inch circles. Place the dough rounds into the wells; pressing the sides and bottom to fit. Fill the wells evenly with the chicken mixture. Cut out 4 more rounds that are 4 inch size and brush one side with the beaten egg, then turn over and place the egg side down over the filled pies. Brush the tops of each pie with egg wash, and (if desired) pierce the top and insert a fresh Serrano chili. Bake in a 400° F preheat oven for 24-25 minutes. Cool in the pan until cool enough to remove.