Painted Chocolate Fruit Tartlets
- 1/2 recipe pate sable
- 4 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Seeds from one vanilla bean (optional)
- 2 to 4 cups soft juicy fruits (berries, fresh figs, grapes, sliced oranges, nectarines, plums, peaches, pineapples or mango)
Make the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator and cut into small pieces. Reknead the dough into a 12-inch log. Cut the log into even pieces; the size of the tartlet molds used will determine how many to cut. For 4 - inch tartlets you'll get 8 to 10 from one dough, for 3-inches about 12, and for miniature about 14 to 16. (For 65mm tartlet rings, cut the log into 12 to 16 pieces.)
Lightly dust a piece of plastic wrap with flour. Round a piece of dough and place it on the plastic wrap. Cover the dough with another piece of plastic and press with the palm of your hand to flatten. Roll the piece out, flipping the whole thing once or twice, rolling on the other side to keep it even. Roll it out to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. It should be about 3/4-inch larger than the mouth of the tartlet mold. Peel the dough off the plastic and center it over the mold. Using floured fingers, gently press the dough down to the bottom of the mold and against the sides, making it even as you go. If the dough tears or is too thin in places, simply patch it with another small piece of dough. (If using tart rings, rotate the mold on a lightly floured surface as you press the bottom and sides with lightly floured thumbs. Be sure to press along the inside bottom to form a nice square bottom edge.) Place the saran over the top of the mold and press with your hand or a small rolling pin to cut any excess dough off the top. (For rings, simply shave off the excess with a paring knife.) Remove the plastic and, using lightly floured fingers, press the dough up around the sides so that it extends slightly above the rim of the mold. Dock it a few times with a fork. Place in the freezer. (Tart rings must be placed in the freezer on a sheet tray.) Repeat with the remaining dough. Scraps of dough can be chilled and reused. The tarts can be frozen in the molds for up to 5 days.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the tartlets on a sheet tray while they are still frozen and bake immediately. It will take 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size. They're ready when the bottoms begin to color and the edges are lightly browned. Remove the molds from the sheet tray and cool completely on a rack. (If using rings, slip the ring off and transfer the baked shell to the cooling rack with a metal spatula.)
Tip the cooled shells out of the mold and onto your hand. If they won't come, gently insert the point of a small knife between the shell and the mold to release it. Then invert it onto your hand.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water, or in a microwave, until it's about 3/4 melted. Stir to melt completely. Using a dry pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of each tart with the melted chocolate. Chill just until the chocolate sets. You probably won't use all the chocolate.
Combine the creme fraiche, heavy cream, confectioner's sugar and vanillas in a bowl. Whisk until soft peaks form. Be careful not to get it too stiff. Using a pastry bag fitted with #5 tip, pipe the cream in into the shells about 2/3 full. Top with the fresh fruit and/or berries. (Figs and raspberries are a wonderful combination with the chocolate and creme fraiche.)
The tartlets can be painted with chocolate as much as a day ahead and filled with the cream up to 4 hours ahead. The fruit, however should be put on within an hour or so of serving.
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