Downsized Recipe for Mini-Tarts

I hate throwing food out.  Every week before our trash comes, I go through the fridge figuring out what’s gone bad, and guiltily throw it away. (How much food do most Americans throw away each year?  How many resources were used to grow that food, transport it, package it?  How much money am I wasting?  How many starving children are out there?  etc etc).  I love to stick things in the freezer sure that I’ll get to it later.  (My worst incarnation of this was when we lived in London and I was saving bones for soup stock–my friend Liz referred to our freezer compartment as “the morgue”).  But my good intentions are often no more than that–periodically I have to go through the freezer and toss frosty blocks of things that are, by that point, really old.

Nevertheless, whenever I make pie dough, I always save the scraps.  If I were a more expert roller of pie crust, I’d probably hardly have any trimmings, but I always have some rough-edged, slightly uneven, Pangaea-shaped mass that I’m putting into the pie pan.  I have this hope that I”ll later use the scraps to make a cute little mini-pie or tartlette.  But, I never do, because I’ve never taken the time to figure out the ratios; i.e. how much to reduce the quantity of filling.

Perhaps in a burst of New Years inspiration, I finally did something with the two tartlettes in my freezer.  The dough was six months old.  I know this precisely because it was leftover nut dough from making this (mmmmm).  I decided to keep things simple and make a chocolate ganache filling.  Easy-peasy, (despite the French name) especially since I already had the crust!  I poured my pie weights into the two tart tins, and calculated the volume (two cups, if you are wondering).  I roughly compared this to the volume of filling for a regular-sized pie or tart, and decided that 1/3 a recipe would give me enough for two tarts.  I melted dark chocolate from Santa (or, my father in law) in sweet cream, butter, and sugar, and added a splash of espresso brewed coffee to round out and intensify the chocolate flavor.  I pre-baked the pie crust, poured in the ganache, and allowed it to set until it was soft yet still solid.  And, voila, my husband and I had individual chocolate tarts for our New Year’s Eve meal.  And our New Year’s meal.  Glossy, smooth, rich, elegant–they may be small but they are more than enough for one sitting.  I’m not sure an over-the-top chocolate dessert is the expected conclusion of a post on kitchen thrift, but, then again, why not?  (Don’t mention anything about New Year’s Resolutions to me, on the other hand).

Chocolate Ganache filling (for two 4-inch tartlettes; triple this for a regular-sized tart)

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about one bar)
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • Pre-bake your pie crust.  While it cools, prepare your ganache:  Place chocolate and butter in a medium bowl; set aside.  Combine cream, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and liquid is just at a simmer, about 4 minutes.   Pour cream mixture over chocolate and butter and let sit until melted, about 4 minutes. Gently stir until smooth.  (If you still have some lumps, you can microwave briefly on very low power.  I’m sure there’s a reason this is verboten, but I had no problems).  Pour ganache into the cooled tart shell and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill until set, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  I think this is best served at room temperature, so that the filling is lighter-tasting and the chocolate flavor more intense.

    5 thoughts on “Downsized Recipe for Mini-Tarts

    1. I had to laugh when I read your description of your weekly fridge purge (me!) and your unidentified freezer blocks (me again!). I keep meaning to get a magnetic white board to keep on the freezer with a list of everything that I stick in there, so that it’ll stay fresh in my brain and I’ll be more likely to use it….. The mini-tarts look delicious – a perfect end to the year!

    2. I, too, do the fridge/freezer purge. It always amazes me when there’s something that I pull out and can’t for the life of me identify.

      I was impressed by your scientific method for scaling down a tart to minis. I did the same thing, only in a seat-of-my-pants kind of way. Nick Malgieri’s tart crust recipe says it makes one 11-inch tart or six to eight mini’s, so I figured one-third of a tart recipe would be about two mini tarts. And it worked!

      Nice post. Your ganache is making my tummy rumble.

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