I love going to a pot-luck party. In addition to good drinks, karaoke, and fun friends, I get a chance to make a really sinfully fattening recipe that I can share with others instead of eating it all myself.
This was just the perfect dessert for sharing! It has a somewhat crunchy and slightly salty chocolate shell. The filling tastes sweet from the fresh whipped cream and has a note of cream cheese. The two flavors combine and create a light-textured, decadent layer of goodness. I used fresh strawberries for a beautiful presentation, and they were bursting with the flavor of summer that matched the fruity aroma.
My inspiration for this dish came while sitting in the waiting area of my doctor's office, leafing through the pages of the May issue of Martha Stewart Living. The original recipe would have been too fancy for the event, and I wondered if it would melt on a hot day without refrigeration. So I made some changes, doing a take on the Mascarpone Cream that I've used in other recipes.
The crust is just as easily rolled out and cut into cookies that can be topped with the filling and berries. It makes for a beautiful, individual treat.
By the way, this dessert was a big hit and was the first to completely disappear from the dessert table. That's quite an accomplishment because this particular annual crowd tends to focus on the clams, ribs, burgers, and hot dogs, and doesn't tend to feast on the sweets.
Black Bottom Summer Tarts
Chocolate crust adapted from Martha Stewart Living
Yield: 2 tarts
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water
For the Filling:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 oz cream cheese - softened
1/2 cup sugar
Make the crust:
Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse until combined. The butter will appear as a crumbly meal. Turn the machine on (no pulse) and pour the water through the top in a slow, steady stream. The dough will start to hold together in places. You can turn off the machine and test the dough. While it looks crumbly, like in the picture below, it will hold it's shape if you clump it together in your hand.
On a lightly floured work surface, shape dough into 2 disks, and wrap each in plastic. Each disk will be enough for one tart in a 9 x 9 pan. Refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 days).
When you are ready to work with the dough, preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk of dough between wax paper. Don't worry if you can't form a square, you can trim the excess off later. The dough should be 1/4" thick.
Remove one sheet of wax paper and transfer the dough to the pan.
Remove the other sheet of wax paper and press the dough into the corners of the pan. Trim off the excess dough. If there's enough, you can make cookies with the excess!
Poke the dough that is in the pan with a fork. Then cover it with either parchment paper or oil-sprayed aluminum-foil and with the top down with dried beans. By weighing it down, the crust won't rise and bubble up as it bakes.
Bake until edges are dry, about 15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment. Bake until just darkened, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely in pans on wire racks. Here's what it should look like:
Make the filling:
Pour the cold cream into a medium-size metal bowl. Beat the cream on high speed, so that it whips up firm. Add the softened cream cheese and sugar to the bowl and beat on high again to blend and maintain the whip.
Spread the filling into the tart using a rubber spatula.
Decorate with strawberry fans, or sliced strawberries.