I have to admit the reason I made these mini chocolate tarts was to use up the cobnuts I bought from a local market. I got so excited that I had found some cobnuts and would finally get to try them, that I bought a stupid amount because they were so reasonably priced. The only problem was that I couldn’t think of anything to do with them.
My boyfriend valiantly munched his way through a lot of them. One day I was browsing through William Curley’s book, Patisserie and I came across a recipe for crystallised hazelnuts. Cobnuts or filberts are a relative of the hazelnut, so I decided to crystallise them and use them as a decoration in one of my bakes.
At the time I didn’t know what I was going to use them to decorate, but after seeing the chocolate pastry on The Great British Bake Off Semi-final and given the fact that Chocolate Week is almost upon us, it just had to be the chocolatiest of creations.
I was also lucky enough to have some delicious Sicilian Orange Blossom Honey from King’s Fine Food, that I wanted to use too. I always thought I didn’t like honey, but I realised that there are so many different flavours out there, I just had to find the right one for me. Orange Blossom honey is really delicate and the citrus notes are so refreshing.
Combining all of these ideas, I decided upon chocolate pastry filled with honey ganache and topped with a crystallised cobnut. I’m calling them mini chocolate tarts for ease though.
Despite everything I’ve just said about how these are the most chocolatey thing ever, the pastry is actually very subtle. I used granulated sugar and some light brown plain flour from Marriages to make what is a very short pastry. You’ll have to be patient when rolling this out. My advice is to roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper.
It’s worth the fiddling though, because you’re left with a very crisp pastry that is perfect in contrast with the silky smooth ganache. If you don’t have light brown plain flour or granulated sugar, normal plain flour and caster sugar will work just as well.
If you ever have issues with pastry shrinking when you bake it, there are a few things you can do to reduce/stop this. As these little tart cases are baked blind without the aid of baking beans etc, you want to be sure the pastry doesn’t shrink too much, or you won’t have anything to fill – I speak from experience!
Chill the pastry for at least 1 hour before you roll it our for baking, allow the pastry to soften a little at room temperature for around 5 minutes, if you roll it straight from the fridge it’s a real work out and the pastry has a tendency to crack.
Measure the size of the ring of your tin that you’re going to cook the pastry in and be sure to use a pastry cutter a bit bigger than the pan, as this will allow for the sides. To get a very even shape when pressing the pastry into the pan, use one of these pastry tampers. I know it looks a bit questionable(!), but it really works.
When cutting out your pastry, ensure you stamp out your pastry rounds. You want to stamp the cutter down and lift it off. Don’t twist the cutter from side to side or spin it, all of these actions distort your pastry and will encourage it to shrink when baking.
Place the cut rounds of pastry into the holes in the tin you’re using and use the tamper to push the pastry down, with a fork prick one set of holes in the bottom and place the tray in the fridge to chill for 5 minutes before baking.
All of these little tips should help with any pastry shrinking issues you may have.
- ***Chocolate Pastry***
- 150g Light Brown Plain Flour - I used Marriages
- 1 Pinch of baking powder
- 10g Cocoa Powder
- 75g Granulated Sugar
- 75g Butter, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 Tbsp cold water
- ***Honey Ganache***
- 200ml Whipping Cream
- 7g Unsalted Butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
- 30g Orange Blossom Honey (or any interesting flavoured honey)
- 200g Dark Chocolate (63-70% cocoa solids), chopped - I used Amedei Toscano 63%
- 65g Milk Chocolate (30-35% cocoa solids), chopped - I used Green & Blacks
- ***Crystallised Cobnuts***
- 50g Cobnuts (Hazelnuts will do if you can't find cobnuts)
- 20g Caster Sugar
- 10ml Water
- Put the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter and using your fingertips rub the butter into the dry ingredients.
- Continue rubbing until the mixture forms coarse breadcrumbs.
- Make a well in the centre, add the egg yolk and water, lightly knead just until the dough is smooth and forms a ball. Do not overwork it.
- Place the dough in the fridge and chill for at least an hour. Use this time make the honey ganache.
- Place the honey and the whipped cream into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Put the chopped chocolates together into a bowl that is big enough to fit the cream.
- Add the hot cream to the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted, then stir in the butter, continue to stir until the butter melts and is combined. Put the ganache to one side to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180C Fan and roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper to about 4mm thick.
- Stamp out rounds of pastry that are slightly bigger than the cavities you're filling, using a pastry tamper, press the pastry into the holes, using a fork, prick one set of holes in the bottom of the pastry and place the tray in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Bake the pastry for 10-12 minutes until crisp, leave to cool in the tins.
- When the pastry is cool, pour or spoon the ganache into the pastry cases, you want the ganache to be quite runny so that it has a smooth surface when poured into the pastry. If your ganache has set too much warm it in the microwave in bursts stirring in between, you want the consistency of double cream, don't let the ganache burn if you do this.
- Leave the chocolate tarts to set and make the crystallised cobnuts. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan.
- Peel and shell the cobnuts, roast in the oven for 10 mins. If any of the brown skins become loose remove them, by rubbing them gently when they've cooled.
- Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and cook to 118C, add the cobnuts to the sugar and mix well. Leave the pan on the heat and stir the nuts continuously until the sugar crystallizes.
- Remove the nuts from the heat and spread them out onto a non-stick silicone baking mat. Make sure the nuts are separate and not stuck together. (These can be stored in an airtight container and used within 2 weeks.
- Top the tartlets with a cobnut and leave for a couple of hours to set. These will last for a week in an airtight container and they don't need to be stored in the fridge - unless it's really hot.
If like me, you have a lot of cobnuts to use up, you can use them in any recipe that uses hazelnuts as well. Here’s some inspiration for other things you could make Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie, and Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies.
It’s the Great British Bake Off final tonight, I wonder who the winner will be, my money is on Nadiya as she has been the most consistent. However depending on the challenges, it could easily go in favour of Ian or Tamal.
Will you be watching tonight? If so, will you have baked anything to eat along with the show?
Thanks for reading.