Fetish (fet -ish) n. 1. an object worshipped by primitive peoples who believe it to have magical powers or to be inhabited by a spirit. 2. anything to which foolishly excessive respect or devotion is given. 3. an object arousing erotic feeling. *
CHOCOLATE, certainly an object worshipped by many, not all of whom are primitive, and some of whom would absolutely extoll its magical powers. I have friends and known others, fools or not, who flaunt an excessive devotion to this “food of the gods”, willing to forgo most other pleasures for this sacred delicacy. And as a true fetish, many have laid claim to its reputation as an aphrodisiac, seducing a lover with a drizzle of warm chocolate sauce or a box tied up in gold ribbon....
CHOCOLATE, that most mysterious of foods, both soothing and sinful, comforting and decadent. Passionate and inspiring, it stirs up more emotion than any other food, it is the downfall of many. No wonder it has also often been called the “food of the devil”.
CHOCOLATE, whether bold and bitter or smooth and sweet, crunchy, crispy, hot, warm or cool, light or dark, it has been the source and inspiration for books, films, forums, salons, clubs. And a multitude of medical studies. Some like to claim that they eat it for this healthful property or that, that it brings on a sense of well being or even euphoria. But all that takes away from its power, its seductiveness. Deep down, chocolate pulls us into a dark, almost spiritual realm, a source of intense craving that no substitute can appease!
But whether you consume chocolate for its psychoactive or cognitive-enhancing properties, its magnesium boost, as some kind of holistic medicine, as a tool of sexual conquest, or as a substitute for lunch dates with friends, savored with a glass of wine, neck-deep in bubbles, no one can deny the passion that it stirs up in all of of us.
I recently received a request for MORE CHOCOLATE, MORE CHOCOLATE from a friend and reader, herself a self-proclaimed chocoholic, with hints of a chocolate fetish. All the rest was fine and dandy, but what she really wanted, what really turned her on, were more images, more recipes for chocolate.
Here is a recipe for her, a recipe so simple, a tartlet so deep and dark. The Sweet Pastry Crust is my own, the filling based on one I found in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (1980, reprinted 2006) for Chocolate Victoria Tartlets, the original recipe from Angelina’s in Paris. This rich dessert is elegant enough to serve at your most luxurious fête with a dollop of whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar accompanied by a flute of the finest champagne. It is also the most sinful, the most comforting of comfort foods to enjoy any time.
* from my Oxford American Dictionary Heald Colleges Edition
TINY CHOCOLATE TARTLETS
Double recipe for Sweet Pastry Crust (see Lemon Tart post)
8 oz (240 g) chocolate - I use Poulain’s 1848 64% cocoa bittersweet chocolate, but you can use sweet, bittersweet or bitter
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
Follow the recipe for the Sweet Pastry Crust on the Lemon Tart post, doubling the ingredients to
2 1/2 (250 g) cups flour
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
14 Tbs (200 g) unsalted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
When you have a smooth, homogenous ball of dough, you will line your tiny tartlet tins and pre-bake the crusts.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
The original recipe calls for 18 tartlet tins, 3 1/2 “ (9 cm) in diameter. I did a mix of 3 sizes : 3” (7 1/2 cm), 3 1/2” (9 cm) and 4 1/2” (11 1/2 cm) with false bottoms. The smallest size is perfect for a mouthful or two, the middle size is the best for a single dessert serving and the largest size I would use as a romantic treat for two to share.
The tins that were teflon coated I left as is, the others I coated with a bit of butter.
Roll out the dough thin, not more than 1/8” wide. Line each tin by lifting and carefully placing in the tin and pressing into place, being careful not to rip the dough - lift, place and press. Then I just roll my rolling pin flush across the surface of the tin hard, which cuts the dough at the edge.
Prick with a fork and place on a large cookie sheet. Finish all the tins that will fit on one cookie sheet and wrap the remaining dough in plastic and put in the refrigerator until ready to roll and bake another batch of shells.
Place the sheet of pastry-lined tins in the fridge until firm, about 10 minutes. Take them out, line each shell carefully with aluminum foil, pressing up against the sides. Fill to the top with weights or dried beans.
Bake for 10 minutes. Quickly remove sheet from oven, carefully remove the foil and the beans, and replace the sheet back in the oven. Bake for another 5 - 7 minutes just until the shells are golden.
Set these tins aside on a rack to cool, removing the shells from the tins as soon as you can easily handle them. Continue with the next batches.
Prepare the Chocolate Filling :
In the top of a double boiler over hot water on moderate heat, or in a heavy-bottom pan over medium-low heat (I do not have a double boiler, but you just have to be more careful), melt the chocolate.
Add the sugar and whisk until blended.
While whisking continuously, pour the heavy cream into the chocolate-sugar mixture, beating until all the cream has been added and the mixture is completely smooth. You will see that the graininess from the sugar will disappear.
Cook, whisking, for 15 minutes. Don’t worry, though it becomes smoother, it won’t really thicken until it cools.
Remove from the heat and place the pot (or top part of double boiler) in an ice bath and stir continuously and gently with a rubber or silicone spatula until cool, making sure that you scrape the sides and bottom so the chocolate doesn’t have a chance to set. Pour the chocolate into a large pitcher.
Line up your pre-baked tartlet shells on a tray that will fit into your refrigerator. Carefully fill each shell with chocolate filling up to the top of the shell. Transfer the tray into the refrigerator and allow to set for at least 5 or 6 hours or overnight, until firm.
Tiny Chocolate Tartlets may be served simply as they are, with fresh whipped cream or with a dusting of powdered sugar, accompanied by a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, a glass of wine, or a flute of champagne.