Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mini French Silk Tarts

There is nothing that picks me up quite like a little bite of rich chocolate.  These miniature versions of a French Silk Pie are wonderful for parties or simply a little bite at the end of the day.

The ingredients that you need are:

2 packages of frozen mini fillo shells (mine came 15 shells in a box), thawed
1/4 cup stick butter (or 1/2 of a stick)
3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (or 3 squares from the Baker's chocolate box)
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream (1 pint)

In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring occasionally.  You don't need to worry about a double-boiler here since you are melting the chocolate with the butter, which will protect it from scorching.  Still, don't wander off to start the laundry or read your favorite new blog.  It will scorch if unattended.

When the chocolate and butter are melted, remove the pan from the heat.

Stir together the sugar and cornstarch and add it to the chocolate mixture.

Beat the eggs until they are thick and lemon-colored and stir them in as well.  Cook the chocolate over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  It will change consistency.  Don't be afraid!  Just keep stirring until the timer goes off.  Here's what it should look like at the end of those 5 minutes:

Notice how the chocolate is pulling away from the pan.  It is very thick right now.  Remove it from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.  Stir in the vanilla.  Since the vanilla that you buy from the store is in alcohol, you never want to add it to very hot things or it will just evaporate.  After adding the vanilla, let the chocolate cool for a full 10 minutes.

Here is where we part ways with a traditional French Silk Pie.  Normally, you would take that cup of heavy cream and whip it for 6 minutes or so on super-high speed in a chilled bowl to get it to stiffen up, then fold in the chocolate.  The result is a pie with "lumps" of cream in it.  Yummy, but not what we want for our little cups.  One "lump" could fill up a whole cup and we wouldn't get any chocolate, and that would be a real tragedy.  We are not here for the cream, after all.

So instead, we are going to simply pour the cream, still as a liquid, into the chocolate mixture after it has cooled for those 10 minutes.  Take a hand mixer and just mix like crazy until everything is well combined.

Now here is the fun (and, unfortunately, messy) part:  Take a ladle and fill those little fillo shells with the delicious chocolate.  I would highly recommend doing this on a cutting board or plate, and using the little ladle you can find, since this made a mess in my kitchen.  Observe:

Also, it pours REALLY fast, so you will probably get chocolate everywhere.  This recipe filled up 30 little fillo shells and still had 1 1/4 cups of chocolate leftover.  I just poured that into a bowl and will eat it like chocolate mousse later.

Slide the whole cutting board or plate into the fridge for a 2-3 hours to help the chocolate set up, and voila!  Mini French Silk Tarts.  I served them with a little cocoa on a plate.  You could also add a fancy dollop of whipped cream to the top, or a raspberry, or whatever you like.  I'm a purist, so nothing but the chocolate for me.

These were delicious!  My husband gave them an 8.5 on the Happy Husband scale of 1-10.  They have been in our fridge for 3 days now and taste just like the day that I made them.  These would be a really great little dessert for kids or parties.  I hope that you give them a try.

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