October 26, 2012

Impromptu Friday night dessert for two

It's Friday!  We're having another at-home date night tonight.  I'm taking it easy; my husband will bring home the take-out dinner and I've put together this relatively spontaneous little chocolate tart for dessert.  Inspiration is everywhere but in this case, the idea to throw this together came from a magazine...
Mini Chocolate Ganache Tart: digestive biscuit crust and ganache flavored with Grand Marnier
One of the things I love to do is go off to the bookstore early in the morning when there's barely anyone there.  I order an icy frappucino, something to eat, and sit for a while thumbing through magazines.  What a luxury!  I was indulging in this way a few days ago and looking through the latest issue of Donna Hay magazine.  Do you know Donna Hay?  I think her magazines are works of art - the food looks beautiful but sounds relatively uncomplicated and approachable.  Amidst all the beautiful food in the latest issue was a chocolate tart, strikingly topped with chocolate dipped pretzels.  The crust is what caught my attention.  It was made with digestive biscuits and pretzels, and that's what gave me the idea for this impromptu dessert on this Friday night.
You see...I have a tube of digestive biscuits that my mother in law gave us sitting in the pantry.  Since my house doesn't really lack for desserts, I doubt we'll ever get to those biscuits properly.  So when I read the ingredient list for Donna Hay's chocolate tart, I bypassed the pretzels but thought: "why not use up a few of those digestive biscuits for a tart crust?" and fill it with a simple chocolate ganache.
To me, the contrast between the grainy, whole wheat flavor and texture of the digestive biscuits against rich chocolate ganache filling sounded like a good match.  And to make things a bit more interesting, I added a dash of Grand Marnier (my husband likes Grand Marnier but you could use Amaretto, Kahlua, or another kind of liqueur) to the ganache to spike up the flavor a little bit further.  You could skip the liqueur and substitute a small dash of vanilla extract instead.
Since it's date night and we're baking a bit on the fly today, it's just a wee mini tart for two.  I happen to have one random, roughly 4 1/2-inch, mini tart pan with a removable bottom that I put to use here.
I am ready to start the weekend and enjoy the lull before the storm - literally!  Unfortunately, there's talk of a major storm/hurricane coming our way on the East Coast.  I'm hoping it will be a whole lot less serious than what the weather reports are predicting right now.  I certainly do not want any repeat of what happened last year right around Halloween.  Let's think positive thoughts and above all else, be safe!

Starting with the tart crust, I simply ground up 3 digestive biscuits, with a little sugar and a small pinch of salt, in my mini chopper.  Then I added about 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter and a teaspoon of water to make the crumbs come together. 
Transfer the crumbs into the mini tart pan and press it around and up the sides of the pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes and set it aside to cool.
For the ganache, I finely chopped 2 ounces of dark chocolate.  Since I'm working with such a small quantity, I just heated 1/4 cup of heavy cream in the microwave until it was steamy and hot.  Pour the hot cream right over the chopped chocolate.
Let mixture sit for about 30 seconds and then whisk it together, starting from the center out, until smooth.  Then gently whisk in 1 teaspoon of Grand Marnier and transfer the finished ganache into the cooled tart crust.  Smooth and spread the ganache carefully around the tart and set it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set.
Remove the sides of the tart pan and let the tart come to room temperature before serving.  If you have some extra heavy cream, you might consider lightly whipping another 1/4 cup of it to serve alongside. 

Mini Chocolate Ganache Tart

- For one mini 4 1/2 inch tartlet -

3 digestive biscuits such as McVitie's (45 grams or 1/2 cup of crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Small pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon water

Ganache Filling
2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (optional; you could also use other liqueur such as Kahlua or Amaretto, or substitute with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a 4 1/2 inch mini tart pan with removable bottom on a small baking sheet. 

Break the digestive biscuits roughly into pieces and place into a small chopper or food processor.  Process until biscuits are finely ground.  Add melted butter and water and process until it comes together and the mixture looks like wet sand.  Transfer crumbs to the tart pan, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Place heavy cream into a 1-cup measuring cup or other microwavable cup.  Heat in 15-second increments until cream is hot.  Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate.  Let sit for 30 seconds.  Whisk the mixture, beginning in the center then outward, until just combined and smooth.  Gently whisk in Grand Marnier or other liquer (if using), or vanilla extract.

Pour ganache over the cooled tartlet shell.  Place tart into the refrigerator for about 2 hours until completely set.  Remove the sides of the tart pan and serve the tart at room temperature.

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