Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Miniature tarts...

You've heard my affection towards miniature treats before and it has been awhile since we've done some. For this week's Wednesday Treat Day, we ran with that idea and prepared these individual Cashew Chocolate Tartlets.

The only thing I had forgotten about making miniature goodies like these tartlets is the repetitive nature of them. While I don't mind it that much, I keep thinking how much time I would have saved preparing these if I would break down and buy one of those fancy miniature tart shapers/stampers out there!

The crust was the most laborious portion as I had to press the lightly sweetened pliable dough into 36(!) miniature muffin cups. You may want to check the size of your muffin tin before you start - if the wells hold less than 2 tablespoons of water, you may end up with 42 tartlets instead as they are just a touch too small to hold everything.

Once the buttery crusts were formed and baked to a light golden, we laced the bottoms with mini chocolate chips for richness and to form a protective layer against the wet filling. The sweet filling is a combination of confectioners' sugar, butter and Lyle's Golden Syrup - I used the golden syrup as I am quite fond of that sticky burnt-sugar flavor it has. If this is something you don't have or can't find, you could replace with dark (or light) corn syrup or even brown rice syrup. Once those ingredients were combined and brought to a boil, a handful of coarsely chopped cashews are tossed in. If you don't groove on cashews (which happen to be Jeff's favorite), you could use almonds, pecans or even a mixture of your favorite nuts! This mixture is carefully measured into the baked crusts and they head back into the oven to for a quick bake to finish setting the filling. If you do use almonds, I suggest swapping out the vanilla in the dough for almond extract to tie in the two flavors.

While we enjoyed that sweet hidden layer of chocolate, I also loved how the heated sugar-y mixture added a caramelized note to the nuts, giving a rich depth to the filling. The crusts were tender, yet still crisp, which allowed the tartlets to be easily handled without worry of them falling apart.

I know it is not always easy to incorporate whole grains into your daily eats when you may not be used to having them. With our dinner tonight, Polpette with Quinoa, Parmesan and Sage, I'm hoping this may change your mind if you give this recipe a try!

I did have to change one main ingredient with these miniature meat loaves (keeping with the individual theme today!) tonight - the original recipe called for bulgur, which I always have in the pantry. For some reason though, I apparently forgot to refill the jar and found it empty as I reached for it! There was no time to run to the market, so I glanced over the pantry and figured I might as well try the ever-nutritious quinoa! I know that most quinoa supposedly comes pre-rinsed to remove that bitter saponin coating, but I still recommend giving it a good rinse and rub with your fingertips just in case. I skipped this once as I thought why bother if someone else has already done the work, but I was much disappointed when I went to taste it and it was fairly bitter.

Rather than cooking the quinoa in water, the flavor is amped up by using half red wine and a bit of beef broth. A mixture of ground sirloin, hot Italian turkey sausage, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, an egg and fresh sage are smashed together to create the meatloaf. Rather than using breadcrumbs or milk-soaked bread, the cooked and well-drained quinoa is added to act as the binder for these loaves. Since you are using ground beef and turkey, be sure to cook these thoroughly and check their temperature with an instant-read thermometer - you'll want it to reach around 160 to 165.

I have to say that I am a fan of ketchup/tomato topping for meatloaves, but Jeff and I both found the combination of ingredients in this to be so flavorful that we agreed we didn't miss that topping one bit! You could even lighten these a bit and swap out the ground sirloin for ground turkey. Adding that single link of Italian sausage made such a difference, bringing another layer that had you guessing what was so good. The meatloaves were still sturdy enough to slice and hold together, yet retained a good level of moisture so they were not dry. I'd love to make this again into a single large loaf so we could slice it and turn it into meatloaf sandwiches! I'm betting this mixture would also make exquisite meatballs, which in turn could be sauced up for pasta, stuffed into a sub roll or even made tiny to top a pizza!


  1. Everything miniature has that adorable look. I liked your idea of puting chocolate on the bottom. Like Jeff, my mom's favourite nuts are also cashews. I think this would be lovely with salted ones as well!

  2. Joe & Jeff - consider this my entry for the book. Thanks for treat day again!
    Georgi @ WF

  3. This is ridiculous sinfulness to the enth degree and I LOVE every second of it! Just love it!

    Cashews are my ultimate favorite nut...this is something I must try.

  4. Those tartlets are beautiful! I can only imagine how much time it took to make them all...I will have to try them on a weekend or a day off!


  5. What a great treat for work. Hidden chocolate, what a great idea.

  6. CC - We used lightly salted ones for these!

    Georgi - I'm so happy to hear you liked them!

    Noble - I quite like the cashews in these and am glad I didn't veer off and add any others!

    Courtney - it took a fairly long time to get all those little buggers pressed into and up the sides of the muffin tin!

    Helene - Thanks!

  7. The sausage in the meatloaves is genius. I'm going to remember that one, as I frequently find meatloaf to end up disappointing.

  8. Erika - Yes, I was quite happy with the boost in flavor from the sausage!

  9. Wow. I love tarts. Yours is definitely challenging my diet again. Cashew Chocolate Tarts. yum. You might find these tarts yummy too:

    Thanks for sharing Cashew Chocolate Tarts.Love it.

  10. Melanie - I'll check it out!

  11. Hi Joe - We, too, have a Wednesday Goodie Day at work and 3 of us take turns bringing in the goods. This past Wednesday I made these Cashew Chocolate Tarts. They were a smashing success. I was going to look for a mini tart shaper, but remembered I have a small mortar and pestle and thought the pestle might work for a shaper. Sure enough, I dipped it in a little flour and it worked like a charm. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes and beautiful pictures. Speaking of pictures, AWESOME picture of Max today. Gayle

  12. Gayle - I'm so glad you gave the tarts a try! We loved them!