Sunday, November 23, 2014

Salted Chocolate-Coconut Crust Tartlets


Gluten-free is great when it's not intentional.

These crunchy crispy little tart shells are made with a macaroon recipe, starring coconut and almond.

Imagine coconut toasted to its nth degree, and flavour transformed from creamy, milky, subtle to BAM! - nutty, caramel-y, roast-y!

Plus this is super easy and as much as I love love loooove making pastry, I don't always have time for that critical dough-chilling step. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I rolled out warm pastry. No way Jose.

Toasted coconut and chocolate pair well together just as chocolate and almond, chocolate and hazelnut, chocolate and pecans...

It's because chocolate is a by-product of carefully roasted cocoa beans and this roasting brings forth nutty flavours through a process called Maillard browning. These reactions are what create the brown crust on a loaf of bread, a flavourful sear on steak, that caramel flavour in dulce de leche, the robust sweetness of raisins and that rich butterscotchy-ness of a perfect chocolate chip cookie.



These darling little tarts really come together faster than you can find your keys. So, you can probably whip these up before you're about to go anywhere today.

The coconut macaroon crust is straight forward - egg, coconut, ground almonds, sugar, a bit of honey, vanilla and salt.


Most macaroon recipes use egg whites only, but I've included one whole egg. The yolk adds just that extra bit of richness and flavour to make these stand out. The extra protein also helps get these as beautifully brown as they are. Remember those Maillard browning reactions? - they need protein to happen.

Added sea salt in both the crust and the filling is mucho important. Salt + coconut = oh my word! And then there's salt and dark chocolate, which is just so sexy. Sometimes I can't decide if I'd miss salt or sugar more if it was taken away from me... I prefer not to think about it...


We cook the mixture gently over the stove top to dry it out a bit before baking. Be careful here because it will want to stick, so stir constantly.

Once it cools down enough to handle, press the mixture down and up the sides of the wells of a mini tart pan. Bake them until really nicely browned - don't be afraid of this colour. It won't take long, so don't run away. You can just imagine how delicious and crunchy they are...

Meanwhile you can make the filling, which is simply some salted chocolate ganache.


Ganache is my go-to filling, frosting, icing, glaze for anything. It's quick, it's versatile, it needs only few ingredients and it is delicious. It delivers every time.

In this case, it works particularly well because I just went on and on about how chocolate and toasted coconut are best buds. Don't skip the sea salt - it will make your taste buds scream.

Here's a killer tip: instead of combining the traditional cream and chocolate, I used butter and milk. I do this often when there's no cream on hand. 

Plus, with the macaroon crust getting all super crunchy and the filling all silky smooth, we get all sorts of contrast. This is what I call exciting food. Let's live the moment.

Cheers!


Salted Chocolate-Coconut Crust Tartlets
Makes 24 mini tarts

For the crust:
2 large egg whites
1 whole egg
2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
1 ¾ cups (110g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
¼ cup (25g) almond meal
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

For the filling:
160g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
hefty pinch of sea salt

In a medium saucepan, mix together egg whites, whole egg, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and almond meal until well combined. Place pan over medium-low heat on the stovetop and stir constantly for 5-7 minutes until the mixture dries out slightly and feels very thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom as you stir. It will form a ball and begin to stick to the bottom of the pan when it is ready.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Transfer mixture to a bowl to cool for 10-15 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the wells of a 24-cup mini muffin pan with melted butter or oil.

Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups. Wet your fingers lightly (or coat the back of the scoop with non-stick spray) and press the mixture firmly onto the base and up the sides of the wells.

Bake for 6 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for another 8-9 minutes, until evenly browned and toasty. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Slide a sharp knife around each cup to loosen, then scoop out carefully with a spoon.

To make the filling, combine chopped chocolate, butter, milk and sea salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Or, place all ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes at 50% power for 30-second intervals. Then, stir until smooth and glossy. 

Spoon filling into tart crusts and decorate with more sea salt and shredded coconut.
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3 comments:

  1. Such cute little tarts! Love the coconut crust, chocolate + coconut is an awesome flavor combo :)

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  2. In our family, a traditional Christmas cookie treat from my Mama (rest her soul), was nut tassies that are the same size as these pretty amazing looking tarts! I will have to surprise and amaze my family this year with these in addition to the nut tassies and see which ones disappear the fastest!!
    You are getting me excited about cooking for the holidays!! God Bless you for that, and I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving, (or whatever you call it where you are)!
    Andi C.

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    Replies
    1. I always love hearing from you Andi! I hope your Mama approves of this new addition ;) Yay for Christmas baking

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