Espresso chocolate tarts

Whilst I’m never knowingly topical or on time, last week my clever masters at Borough Market linked a couple of recipes with the (now finished but then flourishing) London Coffee Festival. One of them was my recipe for espresso chocolate tarts.

Now there are all sorts of recipes that use coffee as a seasoning, a flavour enhancer, or something more. Many of them are genuinely good and the inclusion of coffee is legitimate and smart. Others seem to me to be on the novelty side of things. There is nothing forced or tenuous about coffee and chocolate. The pair were meant to be, and even though it’s well rehearsed, I’ve no problem with promoting it.

The balance of the two flavours in the truffle style tart filling is a good one. Neither dominates the other, which I think is the way it should be. Add a dash of coffee to some crème fraiche for an extra layer on the side.

This recipe is simple, though there are a few stages in the shortcrust making process – which are worth following carefully. I like the informality of the cartoon style tartlets. By all means take more care, or adapt the recipe for bigger, more classically fluted tarts too.

Espresso chocolate tarts

Makes 12-14 cupcake size tartlets

For the shortcrust

125g unsalted butter (cubed and cold)
250g plain flour
75g icing sugar
30g cocoa powder
pinch of table salt
2 large egg yolks
75g cold milk

For the filling

200g double cream
25g caster sugar
pinch salt
100g butter
200g good quality 70% chocolate
100g strongly brewed fresh coffee / espresso

For the coffee crème fraiche (optional)

100g crème fraiche
25g cold coffee
5g icing sugar

You will need a cupcake tray.

Sieve the flour from a height into a large mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar and salt and the butter. Rub these ingredients together using the tips of your fingers until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. You can pulse quickly in a food processor if you’re short of time.

Mix the eggs and milk in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and tip most of the liquid in. Incorporate into the flour and pat and push together into a dough. Add the remaining liquid if you need it. When it’s almost as one, tip it on to a lightly floured work surface. Now be more firm and push together into a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours. I leave it overnight.

To make the tartlets, roll the pastry until it’s about 4mm thick. Use a c.95mm cutter to cut circles of pastry and line a twelve holed cupcake tin. You can be fairly free form – I like the cartoony shapes of these tarts. If I was lining a proper tart case, I would cut the edges back after blind baking. Refrigerate or, better still, freeze the tray for 30 minutes.

Heat your oven to 180C.

Line each tartlet with a square of cling film and fill that with baking beans or rice – scrunching the clingfilm parcels closed when you’re done. Bake the tarts for 12 minutes. Remove the clingfilm parcels and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the filling, bring the cream, sugar and salt to the boil. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Add the coffee (preferably still warm) and beat that into the chocolate mix. Pour into the tarts and allow to cool and set for two or three hours.

You could put them in the fridge to speed up the process, but they’re best eaten at room temperature.

A dash of coffee and a touch of icing sugar mixed into crème fraiche is an excellent accompaniment.

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