Food in miniature form is so much fun! I love going to cocktail parties and eating little appetizers and little desserts. In theory, small food is great because you can try one of everything and not over-stuff yourself. Ok, ok, ok.....so maybe I still over-stuff myself, but the food looks so adorable that it's hard not to. These mini tarts are no exception. I think they are adorable with their cute little shortbread crusts and their fabulously rich fillings and, hey, they are topped with fruit so they must be super healthy! Even if they are not super healthy, when you take a bite you will for sure experience a foodgasm! Yes, it's a real word! According to Urban Dictionary A foodgasm is the euphoric sensation upon tasting amazingly delicious food. I don't typically follow Urban Dictionary but in this case I think they are right! Whatever you want to call the sensation you have while eating these tarts, I guarantee you will love them!
For those of you who have made mini tarts before, you know that there is often a problem with the pastry dough shrinking in the oven. I have had this problem before and find this shortbread recipe to be fool-proof, no shrinking at all. Just make sure that you pop the pan into the freezer for 15 minutes or so to get the dough really cold and firm before you bake the shells. I had no problem with shrinking at all and the shells are delicious, just like a little shortbread cookie!
What to fill them with? You could fill them with any type of pie filling or you could make a pastry cream and top them with fruit. I have been trying to perfect my lemon curd lately, so that was my first choice for a filling. I've not been really happy with any of the lemon curd recipes I found. They were either too sweet, too grainy or not thick enough. After weeks of playing around with my recipes and adding more egg yolks, more lemon zest, and less sugar.....taaaaa daaaa! When I finished this last batch I had a taste, and O....M....G! This lemon curd is truly foodgasmic! It made me a little weak in the knees. After several spoonfuls, I stopped and reminded myself to save some for the tart shells. I topped mine with blueberries, but you could do any fruit or candied lemon rind or even whipped cream.
For my second tartlet filling I made a ganache. I found a recipe recently on Smitten Kitchen for chocolate tarts that looked fabulous and I had to try the filling. It did not fail me! This ganache filling is very easy to make and so rich and delicious! I warn you that you will want to eat this by the spoonful but only the most experienced chocoholics should try this without supervision. Talk about weak knees and moaning....this ganache is to die for!
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick spray.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix just until incorporated. If the shortbread dough is too soft to roll into balls, cover and refrigerate for about 30-60 minutes.
Take 1 tablespoon of shortbread dough and place in the center of each muffin tin. With your fingertips, press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the individual muffin tin. Once filled, place the tart pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes so the shortbread can become firm. (This will help to prevent the shortbread from puffing up during baking.)
Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. About halfway through the baking time, if the shortbread has puffed up, lightly prick the bottom of each shortbread with the tines of a fork. Once they are fully baked, remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, remove the tarts from the pan.
Recipe adapted from joyofbaking.com
Assemble tarts by spooning or piping lemon curd or chocolate ganache into pastry and topping with fresh berries or whipped cream.
zest of 3 lemons
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 3/4 sticks butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add butter all at once and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thick, about 10 minutes. Immediately strain curd into a bowl, then stir in vanilla. Cover curd and chill until thickened. Store in the refrigerator.
8 ounces (224 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup (160 grams) heavy cream
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 30 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In another bowl, beat 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream with the egg yolks just until the eggs are liquid.
Pour the remaining cream into a saucepan, add the vanilla and bring the cream to a full boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Wait for about 30 seconds, then, working with a whisk, gently blend the cream into the chocolate. Still whisking delicately, incorporate the yolks, followed by the butter. Pour the ganachetartlet shells.
If you make these ahead and refrigerate them, pull them out and bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving to soften the ganache.
Adapted from SmittenKitchen.com