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04/17/2016

~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~

IMG_5489The purchase of a few rectangular- and square-shaped tart pans were some of the best baking investments I've ever made.  When it comes to serving crumbly cookie-type crusted tarts with custardy-textured centers, I find portioning and slicing a tart into bars or squares, instead of wedges from a round-shaped pan, more "user friendly" -- it's a kind of unique presentation too. There's more: When I'm making tarts that require refrigeration, I find these shapes to be a more efficient use of refrigerator space -- which, in my kitchen, is valuable real estate.

IMG_5303"Tarte au chocolat" -- no special skills required!

IMG_5483A French chocolate tart, or as they say in France "tarte au chocolat", is not as fussy to prepare as you might think.  Classically, the French pour a relatively easy-to-make chocolate filling into a thin, crispy, delicate, very-buttery pastry shell.  Sometimes they top it off with a glaze, sometimes they don't.  Over the years, I've taken a liking to chocolate tarts (and chocolate cheesecakes too) that are prepared with a chocolate graham-cracker or chocolate wafer-cookie crust.  

IMG_5360A tip about turning graham crackers and cookies into crumbs:

My grandmother placed the crackers or cookies between two kitchen towels and used a rolling pin to crush them.  My mother put them in a food storage bag and used a flat-sided meat mallet. I put mine in the food processor.  Why?  Because the finer the crumbs the firmer your crust will be. In the event you are wondering what part sugar plays in a graham cracker or cookie crust:  sugar crystals aid the butter in binding the dry crumbs together -- think of them as sticky glue. Depending upon the recipe, sometimes I use brown sugar, other times I use granulated sugar, and, in all recipes, the two can be used interchangeably, so, that choice is always yours.

IMG_53062 1/4 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (18 whole graham crackers), not chocolate-covered graham crackers

6  tablespoons granulated sugar

12  tablespoons salted butter, melted on the stovetop or in the microwave (1 1/2 sticks)

Note:  This will make 2, 13" x 3 1/2" rectangular tarts.  To make 1, 10"-round tart, use:  12 graham crackers, 4 tablespoons sugar and 8  tablespoons butter.

IMG_5308 IMG_5311 IMG_5312Step 1.  Break the graham crackers into smaller pieces, placing them in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade along with the sugar as you work.  Using a series of 50-60 rapid on-off pulses process them to crumbs, then, with the motor running, process them to fine crumbs, about 10 more seconds.

IMG_5314 IMG_5322 IMG_5324~Step 2.  With processor motor running, drizzle the melted butter through the feedtube into the crumbs in a thin stream. Transfer this moist, grainy, semi-cohesive, crumb mixture to a medium bowl.  Using a spoon, stir to break up any big-ish clumps that might have formed.  Ideally, you want the mixture to have a sandy texture.

IMG_5341 IMG_5329~Step 3. Divide the mixture between two, 13"L x 3 1/2"W x 1"D tart pans with removable bottoms, about 1 3/4 cups in each pan. Using a tablespoon, spread the mixture IMG_5332loosely and evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

~ Step 4.  Using a wooden tart tamper (or the flat bottom of a measuring cup if you don't have a tamper), flatten/compress the crumbs to form an even crumb crust across the bottom.  When the bottom is in place, use the tablespoon in conjunction with your fingertips to press the crumbs against the sides of the pan.

IMG_5359 IMG_5352Step 5. Bake the crusts on center rack of preheated 300 degree oven for 10 minutes or a 325 degree oven for 8 minutes.  

~ Step 6.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, at least one hour, or, uncovered overnight.  I almost always make the crust a day ahead.

IMG_5364It's time to prepare the ultra-rich super-smooth chocolate filling:

IMG_536814  ounces high-quality dark chocolate, preferably 70% - 85% cacao, chopped into small pieces

2  cups heavy or whipping cream

3  large eggs, at room temp

2  teaspoons pure red raspberry or vanilla extract

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

Note:  To make 1, 10"-round tart, use: 9  ounces chocolate, 1 1/4 cups cream, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon extract and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

IMG_5372 IMG_5378Step 1.  Chop the chocolate as directed and place in a large heatproof bowl.

Step 2.  In a small saucepan on the stovetop (or in the microwave), heat the cream until steaming, but not boiling.  Do not allow to simmer or boil.

IMG_5385 IMG_5394Step 3.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and set aside, without stirring, for 2 minutes.

Note:  I always time this.  Two minutes is the magic number.

IMG_5381 IMG_5396 IMG_5402 IMG_5403~Steps 4, 5 & 6.  During the two minute wait time, in a 1-cup measuring container, using a fork, whisk together the eggs, extract and salt.  Set aside.  After the two minute wait time, using a wire whisk, vigorously stir the chocolate and cream, until all of the cream is drawn into the chocolate and the mixture is smooth, uniform in color and shiny.  Whisking constantly, slowly and in a thin stream, slowly incorporate the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture.

IMG_5409~ Step 7.  Ladle the chocolate filling into the tart shells, a little over 2 cups in each tart.  

IMG_5415Line a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan with parchment and place the filled tarts, slightly apart, on the pan.

~ Step 8.  Bake tarts on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, until barely set and wobbly in the centers.  Do not overbake -- filling will continue to set as the tarts cool.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely, 2 hours.

Two tarts going into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes:

IMG_5419Two tarts coming out of the oven to cool completely:

IMG_5425Chocolate crust (done), chocolate filling (done), chocolate glaze:

IMG_54346  tablespoons heavy cream

6  ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits

4  teaspoons light corn syrup

1 1/2  teaspoons raspberry extract

3  tablespoons hot water

Note:  For a 10"-round tart, use 4 tbsp. cream, 4 ounces chocolate, 3 tsp. corn syrup, 1 tsp. raspberry extract & 3 tbsp. hot water.

~ Step 1.  As pictured below, in a 1-quart saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.  Turn the heat to extra-low.  Add the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is smooth.  Thoroughly stir in the corn syrup, followed by the extract, then the water, stirring well after each addition. Remove from heat.

IMG_5435 IMG_5438 IMG_5442 IMG_5447 IMG_5453~Step 2.  Drizzle half of the glaze over each tart.  One-at-a-time, pick up each pan and tip, tilt and rotate it to distribute the glaze evenly over the top.  Allow to sit, at room temperature, until glaze sets up a bit, about 1 hour, then refrigerate tarts, uncovered, for 1-2 hours or overnight prior to slicing chilled (slice while cold) and serving chilled or at room temperature.

Tip from Mel:  I immediately transfer the glaze to a plastic squeeze-type bottle.  This makes it super-easy (not to mention mess-free and drip-free), to drizzle it over the tops of the tarts.

Two tarts w/the chocolate glaze on top waiting to be sliced:

IMG_5466We all have our moments of divine intervention -- meet mine:

IMG_5476Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars:  Recipe yields 8-10 servings per tart.

Special Equipment List:  food processor; 2, 13"L x 3 1/2"W x 1"D tart pans with removable bottoms; spoon; tart tamper; cooling rack; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-quart saucepan or microwaveable container; whisk; 1-cup measuring container; fork; ladle; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 1-quart saucepan; plastic squeeze-type bottle (optional) 

IMG_3117Cook's Note:  To learn everything I know about ~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~, click into Categories 6, 7, or 15. Real-deal scratch-made crusts are so much better than bland-tasting store-bought ones made with vegetable shortening instead of butter. They are super-quick and easy to make too (5-6 minutes total work using 3 basic ingredients), so there's really no reason to opt for store bought. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

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