Deliciously Easy Chocolate Meringue Tarts

Life can get crazy hectic this time of year can’t it? One day it is summer weather all casual and laid back and the next thing you know it is wintry weather with lots of layers needed for venturing out. Along with that,  “The Holidays”.  I try to keep this time of the year as laid back as possible. I have never been a perfectionist and for that I am thankful.  This works well during the Holidays.  When it comes to Holiday cooking,  I go for delicious and simple, not fussy. These little chocolate meringue tarts are all of those things.

The tart shells were store-bought then filled with a simple dark chocolate pudding and topped with a meringue. That’s it. I try to cut down on the “crazy” any way I can.

Sometimes you just can’t wait.

Deliciously Easy Chocolate Meringue Tarts

Ingredients:

  • 10 pre-made mini tart shells (fresh, boxed or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs – yolks and whites separated carefully – 4 yolks for pudding
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites for meringue
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Note: or you can used meringue powder and whip according to pkg directions

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan whisk together the 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk and egg yolks until well blended.
  2. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened. This takes about 6-8 minutes. Remove pudding from heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for gently push pudding through the sieve.
  3. Immediately add butter and chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Add vanilla extract and blend well.
  4. Place mini  tart shells out on a flat tray and fill with warm pudding. Turn oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Whip egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks and then slowly add in sugar. Beat a few more minutes. Spoon meringue onto filled tarts. Place in oven and bake just until meringue starts to brown. Remove from oven to cool on a rack until ready to serve.

Note: If you have pudding left over cover and chill for later!

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“Falling in Love…Ines Rosales Tortas with Dark Chocolate & Pistachios”

Ines Rosales tortas

Do you believe it is possible to “fall in love” with an inanimate object? In this case a “food object? Well, it happened to me the first time I bit into an “Ines Rosales Torta” a few years ago. To this day these uniquely crisp sweet olive oil tortas from Seville, Spain are at the top of my indulgent food list. From the style of the packaging to the savory-sweet crispness these tortas appeal to every one of my senses. They are full of rustic charm & rare combinations of flavors.  Originally they made and sold just the Sweet Olive Oil Tortas, but now have flavors such as Seville Orange, Rosemary & Thyme, Cinnamon and Sesame & Sea Salt. Perfect as they are, they are very well suited to a bit of embellishment (previous blog on Ines Rosales).

I had been thinking for a while that a drizzle of really rich dark chocolate & a sprinkle of pistachios would take these tortas to a whole new level of goodness for a special celebration. On New Year’s Eve I pulled out my stash, got out the chocolate & nuts and brought this idea to life.

Ines Rosales Tortas, Chocolate & Pistachios

This is so easy and so elegant.

1. Spread 6 Ines Rosales Tortas out on a sheet pan covered with parchment.

Ines Rosales Tortas

2. Melt 3.5 ounces of good quality dark chocolate (Green & Black’s Organic is a good one) in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons of good butter (Kerrygold is my favorite) over low heat until chocolate is completely melted & silky. Roughly chop pistachios.

melted chocolate & butter

3. Here is what you do. Drizzle chocolate……..

Drizzle Chocolate

…Sprinkle pistachios….

DSC_5661

….take a bite…and fall in love.

Ines Rosales Torta with Chocolate & Pistachios

These large (5 to 6 inches in diameter) round tortas (cracker-like flatbreads) come individually wrapped in printed waxed paper in packages of 6. They are a bit pricey…anywhere from $4.50 to $6.00 per package. I first found them at Whole Foods but you can also purchase them online of course.

Stack of Ines Rosales Tortas

“Eat a Peep”

Peeps S'Mores“Peeps S’Mores”

It’s Easter time, the Peeps have hatched. They are everywhere I look and there are many imposters …purple & green, pink & blue..have you ever in your life seen anything other than a yellow chick? Rabbit Peeps? Really! Peeps are Peeps. That’s it. Last word.

This year I played around and came up with this simple s’mores idea using Peeps. Here is what you will need:

A package of Peeps, Chocolate Graham Crackers, Semisweet or Bittersweet Baking Chocolate

Get busy:

1. Turn on oven Broiler. Lay an even number of Chocolate Graham Cracker squares out on baking sheets. Top half of  squares with a piece of Chocolate & the other half with a Peep laying on its side.

Peeps S'Mores

           2. Set rack at the lowest part of the oven & place baking sheet in oven. Leave for about 5-7 minutes or until Peeps are puffy and chocolate is melted. Remove pan from oven. “Sandwich” Peeps & chocolate covered graham crackers together pressing gently.

Peeps Melted

Peeps S'Mores

Bon Appetit!

Peeps

There are many ways to eat a Peep. One of my favorites is the “air-dried crunchy Peep”. You just let them sit around uncovered, out of their packaging, for a few days. This adds a layer of crunch right before you get to the soft marshmallow insides. Try it.

Peep in Hot Cocoa

They are also delicious floating & melting on a cup of steamy hot cocoa. This will make you smile and if you have children or know any children then do this for them and they will smile.

IMG_4814

Peeps like to decorate the tops of cupcakes as well.

What is your favorite way to eat a Peep? Do you eat imposter Peeps? Halloween & Christmas Peeps! Did you know that there are 30,900,000 results if you Google Peeps? Why do you think companies take a good idea, a special treat idea that you looked forward to once a year and made versions for all year long? If you can get something all the time is it special anymore?

Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, Eat a Peep.

“Oreo, Oreo, O-re-o”

“Happy 100th Birthday Sweet Little Oreo”  

I don’t know about you but this was an important food milestone in my world. Oreos have been a constant in my life. Many, many…too many to even count…things have come & gone & changed. On tearful evenings of regret, cold heartless winters, summers so hot I cursed the sun, when changes occurred in my life that tore my heart apart, whenever I needed just a little lonely comfort the sweet little Oreo has been there for me. When my girls were small we would joyfully eat little piles of Oreos in the only way there is to eat them….twisting them apart, eating the white filling, then the cookie. There are nights I remove a couple of Oreos from the package quietly & stand looking out the kitchen window into the dark savoring every comforting bite. When this sweet little comfort cookie turned 100 this week, for me, it was something to celebrate.

“A Simple Chocolate Tart with an Oreo-Almond Crust”

Ingredients for Crust : (this recipe is for 2 crusts, freeze one for later)

12 Oreo Cookies

1 lb Almond Meal (very finely ground almonds)

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

8 ozs. good butter, cold, cut into pieces

Ingredients for Filling:

8 ozs. good quality  semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whole milk mixed with 3/4 cup heavy cream

1 egg, lightly beaten

How to make the crust:

1. Process 12 Oreos in a food processor until finely crushed. Add in almond meal & sugar. Process until well blended. Add pieces of butter to processor. Pulse until well mixed. Drizzle in a bit of cold water if needed until a dough forms.

 

2. Remove dough from processor bowl. Form mixture into two equal size dough balls. Flatten each slightly, wrap in plastic wrap. Put one in the freezer for later use & the other in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 325 degrees.

 3. When dough is chilled using fingers press into bottom  & up side of a springform pan about 1 inch high all around. Dough will be thick, but this is how it is supposed to be. Butter one side of a sheet of foil & fit butter side down into uncooked crust. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Remove foil with weights. Bake another 10 minutes. Remove baked crust from oven.

How to Make Chocolate Filling (which can be made while crust is baking):

1. Chop 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate into small pieces. Place in a mixing bowl.

2.   Heat milk-cream mixture over medium high heat just until it starts to bubble around edges. Pour over chopped chocolate in the bowl. Let sit for a few minutes  & then whisk together well until all pieces of chocolate are totally melted. Let chocolate mixture cool for about 10-12 minutes. Whisking vigorously add beaten egg to chocolate mixture until well blended. Pour into baked Oreo-Almond pie crust.

3. Bake tart for 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Edges will be set, but center will still be jiggly. Remove from oven to cool for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour on a wire rack. This tart is delicious eaten still warm with the center somewhat pudding-like. The soft filling is a perfect foil for the somewhat crisp Oreo-Almond crust.

Serving Suggestion:  

A dusting of powdered sugar.

Our very special, long-time friends, John and Liz Shenk, invited us for a quiet Saturday evening dinner at their house. In so many ways when we get together it is a celebration. A celebration of good food, wine, conversation, stories, and long-time friendship. This “Happy 100th Birthday Sweet Little Oreo” Tart was just part of a special evening.

A Little Gallery of Liz’s Pretty Dinner Table:

Beautiful flowers and glowing light.
Papparadelle, Shrimp cooked in coconut milk…a salad of mango, blood oranges & spinach.   
There are always a few good apps before dinner.

Oreo, Oreo, O-re-o.

How do you eat Oreos? Do you have another method?

Have you ever used Oreos as an ingredient? How would you use them?