Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chocolate, Pistachio, and Mascarpone Tartlets

The inspiration for this recipe was threefold:

1) We haven't been eating a lot of dessert lately, and Hoosband asked if we could try making some small tarts-- nothing too out-of-control on the healthometer, but something that would still seem like an indulgence.

2) On a recent trip to Central Market (a fabulous, Whole-Foods-esque, Texas chain), I picked up a Chocolate Almond Butter Hail Merry Miracle Tart (a heavenly, raw, vegan, and gluten-free tartlet) that was too good not to borrow from.

3) I had some raw pistachios on hand and a little mascarpone leftover from my Goat-Cheese-Stuffed Cherries that were just begging to be turned into something scrumptious.

Like the incredible Hail Merry tarts, my creation is miraculously gluten free. It is also is raw in the sense that no baking is required.* With the addition of the mascarpone, however, I clearly departed from the truly raw (as in none of the components have ever been exposed to high heat) and vegan aspects.

While I typically prefer to use natural cocoa, I used dutch-process cocoa (which has been treated with alkali) in the crust here to achieve a deeper chocolate color and slightly less-acidic flavor.

Pistachios can be a pain to shell, and raw, unsalted, shelled pistachios can be hard to find. Mine were labeled "raw pistachio meats" and found in the bulk section.

As for the sweeteners, I have just begun to experiment with coconut palm sugar, and I love it. With a production method somewhat similar to that of maple syrup, coconut palm sugar is minimally processed and has a rich, caramel color, scent, and flavor. Not surprisingly, it can be pretty pricey, so I always look for it on sale. Substitute with brown sugar if desired.

In the filling I turn to honey, which, enlivened with a sprinkle of cinnamon, is a perfect pairing for pistachios, reminiscent of baklava and a myriad of Mediterranean confections.

Don't go overboard with the cinnamon, but definitely don't leave it out. You don't want the tarts to taste like Christmas, you just want to compliment the other flavors.

Because of the pistachios, the filling will be green. If left ungarnished, the surface of the filling will darken and become glossy, which can look a little unappetizing--so don't skip that garnish!

Chocolate, Pistachio, and Mascarpone Tartlets
for the crust:
1/3 cup raw, shelled pistachios
1/3 cup dutch-process cocoa
3 T coconut palm sugar
2 T coconut oil at warm room temperature (liquid but not hot)
dash ground cinnamon

for the filling:
1/2 cup raw, shelled pistachios
2 oz mascarpone cheese
2 T honey

for the garnish:
1/4 cup raw, shelled pistachios, finely chopped
2 T finely chopped dark chocolate

*Note: If you plan to keep the tartlets out of refrigeration for more than 10 minutes before/during serving, or if you plan on serving them in a very hot environment (such as outdoors in the summer), you may want to bake the crusts prior to filling them. If desired, bake the crusts at 350 degrees F for 6 minutes and allow them to cool completely before filling. Baked crusts may be stored in their liners in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days before being filled. Filled tartlets should be refrigerated until ready to serve.

Place muffin liners in each of six large muffin cups. I use regular-sized muffin liners in large cups--the larger cups just allow the liners to lay out a little wider. If you do not have a large-cup muffin pan, just use six cups in a standard-size muffin pan.

Place the crust ingredients in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles wet, black, sand.

Deposit a tablespoon of the mixture into each prepared muffin cup.

Use clean fingers to firmly press the mixture evenly across the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of each muffin liner, creating little tart shells.

Chill (or bake--see above note) the shells in the muffin tin while you prepare the filling.

Rinse and dry the food processor bowl, and add the filling ingredients.

Process until the mixture is very smooth, almost like a dense mousse, pausing to scrape down the bowl every 45 seconds or so. It will take a few minutes to get to the right consistency, so keep at it and taste as you go. Evenly divide the mixture between the six prepared crusts, using a piping bag if desired.

Cover the tops completely with the chopped pistachios and chocolate.

For the best flavor, let the tarts rest in the fridge for at least 6 hours. The flavors will intensify even more overnight.

Store tartlets in airtight containers in the fridge until ready to serve (up to five days).

Makes six tartlets.

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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