Friday, August 19, 2011

Milk Jam Chocolate Tarts with Toasted Hazelnuts

How come people don't snack on hazelnuts?

Peanuts, almonds, cashews, even Brazil nuts are definitely snackable. But hazelnuts kind of get left by the wayside.

I mean....they're definitely delicious. No doubt about that. Maybe if they were salted they'd be more snack-worthy?

Or, maybe it's because everyone wants to save them to make these tarts. Bingo.

Hazelnuts pair with chocolate as well as Will Ferrell pairs with stupid comedies. Hazelnuts pair with chocolate as well as my Mom pairs (or puts up with) my Dad. It must be fate.

Let's put some brain cells on this combo...

Nutella. Win!

Ferrero Rocher. Uhh....yes. Put them in my mouth please.

Perugina Baci. I read your little note and then I eat you. Or maybe I eat you first...then read the little note. So what.

How about Chocolate + Hazelnut + Milk Jam.

Whaaaa? Did I just say milk jam?

Basically you combine milk with sugar and baking soda and cook it down very carefully and slowly until it gets all thick and jammy. The baking soda makes the mixture more basic (less acidic) or alkaline which promotes the Maillard Reaction. This is a delicious reaction between proteins and sugars that creates really tasty caramel flavours. Think dulce de leche. Mmm. Yep. Now we're talkin'.

This tart really is like eating ice cream sundae toppings from a pastry shell.

Love it. Make it. Share it.

Share it especially with your partner, spouse or significant other because I'm dedicating this decadent dessert to my crrrrazy parents who are celebrating their 33rd anniversary today!

I truly believe that it is sharing delicious food which has kept them together so long. Unconditional love might play a role biggie.

Happy Anniversary you old married farts! I love ya. You deserve a metal for putting up with me this long, but I hope you will just settle for pretty pictures of delicious tarts.

Milk Jam Chocolate Hazelnut Tarts
Makes six 4-inch tarts
Inspired by Sweet Tartelette

For the crust:
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp very cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
2-3 tbsp cold milk

For the milk jam:
1 ¾ cups 2% milk
2 tbsp 35% whipping cream 
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

For the chocolate ganache:
5 oz dark chocolate (minimum 54% cocoa solids), finely chopped
pinch of salt
1/3 cup 35% whipping cream
2 oz (about ½ cup) whole hazelnuts

To make the pastry, whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and toss to coat in flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your clean fingers, cut or rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. The butter should be mostly dispersed with some larger, pea-sized pieces remaining. Whisk egg yolk well with water in a small bowl and drizzle into flour mixture while gently stirring with a fork. Continue to stir until dry ingredients are moistened and it holds together in clumps. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and bring it together in a ball with your hands, turning it frequently and pressing in loose bits until it is cohesive. Shape dough into a disk, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the milk jam, place milk, cream, sugar and baking soda in a heavy bottomed 5-quart saucepot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Watch it carefully as it will bubble up and boil over quickly and uncontrollably if it gets too hot. When the mixture is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until thick as jam, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When it begins to get thick, stir often. Remove from heat, stir in salt, pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to just over 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out six 5-inch circles and fit each round into a 4-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. You can either use a 5-inch round cookie cutter or trace the circumference of a tart pan with a knife keeping about ½-inch extra all the way around. Refrigerate until firm.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prick pastry all over with a fork and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack.

To toast hazelnuts, spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 7 minutes, shaking pan half-way through.

To make the ganache filling, place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Combine cream and salt in a small saucepot over medium-low heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes and then slowly stir using a rubber spatula until completely melted and smooth. If chocolate is not completely melted, place bowl over a double boiler and heat gently until melted. 

When ready to assemble, spread about 2 tablespoons of milk jam on the bottom of each tart. Scatter about 6 or 7 hazelnuts over the jam and then spoon warm ganache over it to cover completely. Coarsely chop the reserved hazelnuts and sprinkle on top. Server immediately or let cool until ganache is set and serve chilled!
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