Sunday, July 17, 2011

wedding bells and chocolate tarts

the infamous Mexican Chocolate Tart with Chipotle-Glazed Pecans
Recently, one of our favorite neighbors of 20+ years went and did himself a crazy thing...done got himself hitched !!

Well, I'm kidding about the crazy part - his new wife is really an absolute sweetheart and we sincerely could not be happier for them. The event itself was a quickie City Hall jaunt, but the backyard party afterwards was epic...and we got to cook, which was even better !! Unfortunately, I was too busy to photograph much, but I've thrown a few in here just for the heck of it  - see the end of the blog. I've also included the recipe for my Mexican Chocolate Tart with Chipotle-Glazed Pecans. This tart is epic as well - truly a Culinary Orgasm. Don't let the paring of sweet chocolate and spicy chipotle powder scare you off. It's not burning hot, nothing like that at all...the spice just wakes up your taste buds so you can appreciate the chocolate that much more. Try and use the best chocolate you can get for this...there's not a lot else in it, and if you use cheap chocolate you'll definitely regret it. I use a mixture of high-quality bittersweet and semisweet, but you can use 4 oz of one instead of 2 and 2 if you'd rather...if you like things a bit sweeter go with straight semi; for super dark go with bitter.

Mexican Chocolate is a unique product, and is worth the search for not only this tart but for delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate. It comes in disks with score marks (so you can break it apart and add it to your mug of hot milk), has a rough, grainy texture, and is usually lightly spiced with cinnamon. The real deal is is absolutely essential in this tart. Taza is a locally made version which is fantastic (available at Whole Foods, Russo's, and other foodie haunts - I use the cinnamon version which is the traditional Mexican, though one of these days I may experiment with the other flavors.) Ibarra is much easier to find and will work as well, and my local Stop + Shop carries a Nestle version called Abuelita which looks a lot like the Ibarra and will certainly do the trick.

Oh, and beware the pecans...easy to make and definitely worth the time as they are seriously, seriously addictive.

The menu (links go to the blog entries with recipes :

Smoked Shrimp with Cajun Remoulade
Frijoles Borrachos with Pepperjack Cornbread
Jamaican Jerk Chicken (wings, this time)
Steak Tips
Grilled Vegetables (on skewers)

Mexican Chocolate Tart with Chipotle Glazed Pecans

1 cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about half of one 9-ounce package cookies, finely ground in processor)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 disk Mexican chocolate (Taza preferred), chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
chipotle powder, to taste (start with 1/8 tsp)

Chipotle Glazed Pecans (see below)

Lightly sweetened whipped cream

For crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are moistened. Press crumbs into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, to within 1/8 inch of top. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool on rack.

For filling:

Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolates; whisk until melted. Add butter, 1 piece at a time; whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla, cinnamon, salt and chipotle powder (enough so that you can taste it, but not so much as to make it spicy hot.) Pour filling into crust. Chill until filling begins to set, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Arrange nuts in concentric circles atop tart. Chill until set, about 4 hours. Serve tart with whipped cream.

Chipotle Glazed Pecans

1 egg white
2 tablespoons champagne or ginger ale
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 250 F. Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk egg white, add champagne (or ginger ale), salt, cinnamon, chipotle, sugar and pecan halves.Fold this together until the nuts are evenly coated.

Spread the mixture out onto the pan, single layer. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 1/2 hours until the coating is absorbed and the pecans appear dry, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

When they are cooled store at room temperature in an airtight container. This will make more than you need...not a problem as they are great on their own !

chocolate, ready for chopping

the blushing bride

love the sleeves..

Jerk Chicken


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