Chocolate Basil Tartelet

Chocolate Basil Tartelet

We went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday, our first time to the one in Durham.  We’ve lived in Durham for over two years now and never had been – either we go to the one we’re used to in Carrboro (huge and wonderful), or (much more likely) we don’t wake up on Saturday until far too late to bother going at all.

But, we’re still mildly recovering from being five hours ahead of ourselves in Scotland, so we were up bright and early on Saturday, and decided to give it a whirl.

It was much smaller than the one in Carrboro, but also much closer to us, with a good mix of vendors.  We got some mixed greens for stir-frying, a pint each of muscadines and scuppernongs, a loaf of whole-wheat artisinal bread, and a bunch of fresh basil.

Normally, I’d have a huge forest of basil growing out in the herb garden, but this year I didn’t end up planting anything, so all we have are rosemary and sage.  So limiting!  So I couldn’t resist a bunch of delicious-smelling basil.

But, what to do with it?  (Oh, the horror, what a conundrum)  We were planning to go to a Beatles-themed rock band get-together, and I wanted to take something sweet, so I pulled out Desserts From an Herb Garden and found this recipe.  It was delicious!  and a big hit – the hosts had made strawberry sauce for other purposes, which went lovely with these little tarts.

Chocolate Basil Truffle Rounds

from Desserts From an Herb Garden, by Sharon Kebschull Barrett


6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons minced basil leaves
3/4 lb (12 oz)  bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
2 Tablespoons sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350F; butter or grease eight 4-inch removable-bottom tartlet tins (I used disposable tart cups); set tins on baking sheet.

2. Melt butter with basil leaves in the top of a double boiler set over (not touching) barely simmering water.  Add chocolate; stir often until chocolate is melted.  Set aside top pan to cool slightly; mixture will be very thick.

Also, I probably heated more than I should have b/c I kept seeing ‘lumps’, which were actually basil leaf chunks.  oops.

3. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks; add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks until bubbly; whisk into chocolate mixture.  Fold in about 1/4 cup beaten whites to lighten the chocolate mixture, then gently but thoroughly fold in remaining whites.

4. Divide batter among tins.  Bake 15 minutes, until tops have just set (mixture will still be soft in the middle).  Let cool on a wire rack (the puffed tops will fall), then chill, covered, until ready to serve.

I slightly overbaked, hence my non-fallen tops and sort of crumbly texture to finished product.  I’d definitely check after  10 minutes.

5.  To serve, remove tin sides.  With a thin-bladed metal spatula, lift rounds from the bases and transfer to dessert plates.  Serve cold or at room temperature, with a dollop of whipped cream or a small pool of custard sauce (or fruit sauce!); garnish with basil sprigs.

A few weeks back, the lovely Tartelette posted a delicious-looking recipe for these tartelettes.  How scrumptious!  But I didn’t plan on making them anytime soon… until I realized that I needed to put together some kind of apple tart to take with me to a dessert-tasting at the cafe I’ll be baking for (which is opening in TWO WEEKS!  Hurray!).  And I needed it… for the next day.  Eek. I pulled this one up and saw that I had everything I needed, so away I went!

Apple Frangipane Tartlet

Apple Frangipane Tartlet

Apple Frangipane Tartelettes
(recipe from Tartelette)

Serves 8 (3″ tarts; makes 6 if you use 4″ tart pans, as I did)

Sable Dough:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (93 gr) powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 1 /2 cups (188gr) flour
2 tablespoons (20 gr) cornstarch (makes for a lighter crumb)
pinch of salt

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix briefly to incorporate. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Do not work the dough while in the mixer or it will toughen up. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between the sheets of plastic. You will need half the amount of dough to make the tartelettes. The other half can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen, well wrapped for up to 3 months. Cut out rounds with a 3 inch pastry ring. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool.

[Since I don’t have 3″ tart rings, I put the dough circles into my paper tart liners and baked it in there.  It came out fine.]

If For the Honey Roasted Apples:
4 medium apples
1/2 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel core and cut the apples in thin slices. Lay them on a couple of parchment paper lined baking sheets and drizzle at will with the honey. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Let cool.

[Next time, I’d add another apple.  I was running a little short on ‘petals’ by the time tart #6 rolled around]

For the Frangipane Cream:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
1 cup (100 gr) ground almond
seeds from one vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream

Place the butter, sugar, almond powder, vanilla bean seeds and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place 8 baked rounds of dough in 8 pastry rings, divide the cream evenly among the rings and bake 20 minutes at 350F. Let cool. Once cooled, remove the tarts from the rings and arrange the apple slices decoratively on top.

Here’s a picture of the tart before arranging apples on top:

Naked frangipane tart!

Naked frangipane tart!

And another shot of it all dolled up:

I love the light in this one

I love the light in this one

Verdict?  These were moderately simple to make, and wonderfully tasty. They were a hit with Jeff and his friend H, and most importantly, with the owner of the cafe!  I think these will be going into the case, for sure.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart

I am big with the love for Rose Levy Beranbaum. Her Cake Bible has been an invaluable reference to me over the years (especially when making enough cake to feed 500 people), her Bread Bible has made Jeff a very happy man… but I haven’t done much with the Pie and Pastry Bible until now, although it’s been on my shelf for a few years, among the other pie and pastry books.

(Yes, I have a cookbook Problem. Comes from being a librarian for so many years. Books just sort of accumulate. And they’re organized. Right now the baking books are sort of taking over – it used to be 50/50 with the baking/cooking, but no longer. The chocolate section alone takes up nearly a whole shelf.)

Mostly, I think that’s because I’ve never been a real big pie baker. Which is funny, because I love pies a lot more than I love cake. I think it’s probably because I mostly bake for other people, mostly for special occasions, and they like cake. It just seems to fit.

However, with the business and trying to find the right things to make for the coffee shop/wine bar, pies are back on the menu, and so I need to do a lot of testing!

Today’s recipe was the further attempt to make the ultimate indulgence for those who can’t get enough of peanut butter and chocolate, and if Jeff is any indicator, I’ve hit it right on the nose.

(I let him have his sample slice, and he finished it before I wrapped up the rest of the tart to put back in the fridge and then stood there making puppy dog eyes at me and asking winsomely for another slice, please? I said no. I am cold-hearted and cruel and want him to be healthy and live to be 100.)

Me, I’m not a fan of peanut butter (another reason I’ve never made this before). I didn’t like it as a kid, and while I can tolerate it now, I just don’t really like it. But I had a bite, and the crust is delightfully chewy (it uses a PB cookie recipe), the peanut butter mousse fluffy and peanut-buttery, and the chocolate ganache topping perfectly chocolatey. We won’t discuss the decoration I attempted to pipe on top with milk chocolate – obviously, I’m going to need to work on that idea a little longer (and no, I’m not posting it and you can’t have it for Cake Wrecks, as I didn’t sell this to anyone. 😛 Someday I aspire to get into Cake Wrecks, but it’ll for something a heck of a lot more fantastic than dribbly piping.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart
From Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible

Makes 1 large or 8 small tarts

Sweet Peanut Butter Cookie Tart Crust
[I doubled this recipe – made measuring things easier, and it freezes forever, so I just put half in the freezer so I could make tartlets later]

Makes one 9.5 x 1 inch tart, or 8-10 four inch tartlets


1/2 cup Bleached All-Purpose Flour (I used Lily’s)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/16 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar, preferably superfine (I used regular)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably Jif, at room temperature
1/2 large egg (beat before measuring)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Into a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine well.

In a mixing bowl, beat both sugars until well mixed. Add the butter and peanut butter and beat for several minutes or until very smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl. At low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture just until incorporated.
[Can be stored unbaked, refrigerated up to 1 week; frozen about 1 year]

Press into pan, or roll out between two sheets of waxed paper into an 11″ circle and gently press into tart pan. Make sides about 1/4″ thick and trim even with the top of the pan.

Line the pan for blind baking using parchment or a coffee filter and pie weights. I would also highly recommend putting some foil liners over the edges of the dough, as it sort of went nuts and explody and crisped a lot when I blind-baked it.

Bake at 425F for 5 minutes, then lower to 375F and continue baking for 15-20 minutes until set. Lift out the weights with the parchment (you’ll lose some dough, this is normal), prick lightly, and continue baking 10 to 15 minutes more until it’s light golden brown. Cool completely.

I had my serious doubts about this crust, at this point. It looked burned on the edges and undercooked in the middle. Apparently, this is correct. Jeff says that it was perfect, although perhaps a bit crisp at the edges (which is why I recommend the foil covers).

You can see the crust better, here.

You can see the crust better, here.

Peanut Butter Mousse


7 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter, preferably Jif, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 liquid cup heavy cream, softly whipped

In a mixer bowl, preferably with the whisk beater, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until uniform in color. On low speed, beat in the vanilla. Beat in 1/4 cup of the whipped cream just until incorporated. With a large rubber spatula, fold in the rest of the whipped cream until blended but still airy. Scrape the mousse into the prepared tart shell and smooth the surface so that it is level. Refrigerate the tart while preparing the ganache. [I refrigerated overnight with no problems]

Pie sans ganache

Pie sans ganache

Milk Chocolate Ganache Topping


3 ounces milk chocolate (I used Guittard 38% soleil d’or, amazing stuff)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Callebaut 70% thick)
1/3 liquid cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make chocolate very small. Bring the cream to a boil. Pour cream over chocolate, let sit for a minute, then stir until emulsified (you can use an immersion blender if you like, or do this in a food processor). Add vanilla. Let cool to room temperature (I cooled to lukewarm. I am impatient).

Pour the ganache over the peanut butter mousse in a circular motion, so that it does not land too heavily on any one spot and cause a depression (if you’ve refrigerated overnight ,this isn’t really an issue). With a small metal spatula, start by spreading the ganache to the edges of the pastry, then spread it evenly to cover the entire surface. Refrigerate the tart for at least 2 hours to set.

Store at room temperature up to 1 day, refrigerated up to 5 days, frozen up to 3 months. (Wrap after freezing to preserve shiny coating on ganache).

The slice Jeff had. Pay no attention to the blob. It doesn't exist.

The slice Jeff had. Pay no attention to the blob.

Mmm.  Yes, this is going into the repertoire!