These little rosemary chocolate tarts have been little pockets of heaven punctuating a very busy and somewhat stressful last month or so. I’ve made them a couple of times (recipe testing, of course — I have my excuses), and I haven’t gotten sick of them yet.
I realize it’s already halfway over, but I feel like I’m still adjusting to 2017. It has been one hell of a year so far, and not really in a good way. I don’t try to glorify times of hardship and strife, but it remains true that darkness makes even a small bit of light shine like a beacon. I’ve spent the first half of this year running toward those beacons wherever I can spot them.
I turn toward baking for comfort for a number of reasons: It makes me feel at home, wherever I am. It allows me an opportunity to pass a small bit of happiness onto others. But more than anything, I think there is a deep-rooted security in the knowledge that you can take the raw materials of life and turn them into something just a little bit divine, with a little time and effort.
What I like about these tarts is that they are so easy to make, but the result is just a bit magic. Chocolate with rosemary is one of my favorite combinations. Both ingredients are aromatic and a little acidic, but the herbal tones of the rosemary elevate and balance the rich chocolate, which can be a bit much (for me) on its own. The almonds in the crust add something extra, as well.
I know some people shy away from pastry, and tarts and pies in particular (I used to be one of them), but these are really kind of fool-proof. The crust is super easy to handle, because it’s not really pastry in the strictest sense, and the filling only requires about five minutes of active cooking time. The rest is up to the fridge.
So if you’re feeling a little stressed out, why not take some time out of your day to make a little something out of nothing, if for no other reason than just to remember that you can?
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet melting chocolate
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- In a food processor, process the almonds, flour, sugar and salt until they form a course powder but not a paste.
- Add the butter to the processor in small chunks and pulse until the pieces of butter are about the size of peas.
- Add the almond extract and a little of the ice water at a time, pulsing in between, until the dough begins to clump together. When you can squeeze a handful of the dough and it holds together, stop adding water and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Form the dough into a flat disk with as little handling as possible. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 350F (172 C).
- Generously flour a large, flat surface and roll the dough out into a circle wide enough to cover the bottom and edges of your tart pan. Carefully lift the dough into the pan and press it into the edges and ridges. Roll your rolling pin across the top of the pan to remove the excess dough.
- Place a piece of parchment paper into the tart pan over the dough and fill the bottom of the pan with pie weights, or dried beans or rice. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, then remove the pie weights and puncture the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork.
- Return the crust to the oven and bake until golden brown, about another 10-15 minutes.
- Place the chocolate and butter into a large heat-resistant bowl. Put the heavy cream, sugar, salt and milk into a small pan and heat over medium heat while stirring constantly until the mixture boils. Immediately remove the mixture from the heat. Strain out or remove the rosemary and pour the cream mixture over the butter and chocolate. Cover with a lid or tea towel and allow to sit for about 10 minutes undisturbed.
- After about 10 minutes, remove the lid from the filling and stir until the mixture is well combined and all of the chocolate is melted. Pour the filling into the tart crust and allow to cool to room temperature before placing the tart in the fridge to set. Allow to chill about 2 hours before serving.