I don’t normally spend a lot of time pondering what to make next. Typically it’s just a natural progression of what I feel like eating that I believe is blog-able. But since moving out to California I’ve been at a loss for what to make in my inaugural post from the west coast.
At first I thought about making some sort of dish native to northern California but that didn’t work out as well as I thought. Since this area’s all about fusion and fresh ingredients, it makes it difficult to pinpoint an exact style of cooking.
So what do we do instead? We make dessert obviously.
I make a lot of the usual dessert suspects, but sometimes I have a hankering for the “fancier” stuff. And by that I mean stuff I don’t normally make because it’s not a pie, cookie, or cupcake.
So to class up my baking skills a bit, I opted for a tart. For this tart, I wanted to combine some pretty classic dessert flavored into something rich and decadent: dark chocolate, blueberries, and stout.
Stout is one of my preferred types of beers to get, that and an IPA.Stouts and porters are best for dessert baking because they tend to have chocolate-y notes within the brew itself like my good friend here from Oregon.
Other beers can be used for baking, but their flavors don’t lend themselves as well to desserts as well as darker beers do.
So first we start with the chocolate layer in the tart. So the reason I chose chocolate had really nothing to do with a preference for a chocolate tart as opposed to a fruit tart. When I drove here from the Lone Star state, I had a box of dark chocolate in my trunk that I had forgotten was there. Needless to say driving through the 110˚F Mojave desert didn’t help the chocolates keep their form. Instead they melted and reformed into a giant block of dark chocolate. Still good, but not very edible as a snack.
I took about half of the chocolate lump I had for this “mousse.” It’s not a mousse exactly since it’s little more liquidy than an actual mousse, but I wasn’t aiming for this to be a portable dessert, just a delicious one. Although it has the basic structure of a mousse and with a little less liquid it could probably be one.
In my double boiler I melted down the chocolate with some butter like any traditional chocolate desert starts. I still like using the double boiler method instead of just melting chocolate in a pot for several reason. 1) I’m not a master baker, and the thought of burning chocolate terrifies me because I don’t want to screw everything up because I burned some of the chocolate and 2) then I don’t have to transfer the chocolate mixture to a separate bowl anyway.
After the chocolate’s melted, I add in the stout. I let this sit over the heat for a little bit longer to let it sort of thicken up a little bit. Then I took it off the heat and let it cool down. It’s important to let it cool since we’re going to be adding raw egg to this in a second.
Speaking of, while this was cooling I separated the egg whites from the egg yolks. A rather laborious task since I needed so many eggs to make this dish. I used most of the egg whites and put them in my double boiler with a little bit of sugar and some more stout. Gotta make sure that stout flavor is there after all.
Once the sugar is dissolved in the egg mixture, I took it off the heat and kept whisking it. As it begins to cool down it will thicken up and once it’s thick, you can pour it into the chocolate mixture.
I then finished the chocolate base up with some vanilla and a little bit of salt to bring out the flavor. After this its time for the part that seems a little intimidating: whipping the egg whites.
Now as far as mousses go, there are two components that make up the truly mousse-y texture. It’s typically a combination of egg whites and heavy whipping cream. Since I wasn’t actually making a mousse but something that resembled it, I didn’t really need the heavy whipping cream. It was also a plus since I don’t just always have that on hand since I don’t make ambitious desserts very often.
Now whipping egg whites is pretty simple but I would advise that you always use a stand mixer or a hand mixture. I couldn’t imagine having to whip egg whites by hand. All you have to do it throw the egg whites in the mixture and mix them until they become frothy like pictured above. Once it gets like this you add in a little bit of sugar and turn the mixture on a faster speed until the egg whites are thick.
A lot of directions will say that the egg whites will be thick and shiny, but I don’t know if I can discern that very well. It’s not a lie. They do get oddly shinier once their fully whipped, but it’s hard (for me at least) to use that as an indication.
But once your eggs a whipped, you can fold the chocolate into the whipped eggs to get the final product.
I let this set for a couple hours before filling the tarts with it.
While that’s setting, we can move onto the actual tart dough. For this I used a pretty basic dough recipe.
In a bowl, I combined butter, flour, and sugar together. It’s important to make sure that the butter is chilled and that you don’t mix the dough for too long. The point is to keep the butter from melting because that will mess with the texture of the dough once it’s baked and your hands (which are the primary mixing implements) will melt the butter if you’re handling it for too long.
Once the butter and dry ingredients are mixed, the wet ingredients can be added. All we need for the wet ingredients are some egg yolks and water. Add both of these slowly to the dough and keep adding additional water until your dough can be formed into a ball. Then cover this in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before baking it.
The baking process it pretty simple. I used a muffin tin and dropped about half a handful of the dough into each tin greased with butter. Then I pressed the dough up the sides of the tin to get a nice cup shape. Once all the muffin tins were filled I threw the pan into a 350˚F oven for 15 minutes or so to get my tart shells.
The final component to this dish was a blueberry topping. Blueberries are in season and it makes the dessert a little healthier. Although not by much. All I did for these was throw some blueberries into a saucepan with some stout and sugar. I brought the contents to a boil and boiled them down for about 10-15 minutes.
Transfer that into a bowl you can stick in the fridge and let that cool down as well so you can drizzle it overtop the tarts.
Once the chocolate “mousse” had been chilling for a couple hours, I poured it into my cooled tart shells. Throw these back in the fridge and let them refrigerate overnight to let them set a little more. They are edible before you let them chill overnight, but they’re still not quite viscous enough.
But once they’re done, you can put them on a plate and top them with the blueberry syrup to have a fancy-looking dish that really requires more waiting time than actually effort.
Dark Chocolate Stout Tarts
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Time inactive: 12 hours
Makes 20 tarts
Dark Chocolate Stout Mousse
- 6 oz dark chocolate
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- ½ cup + 1 tbs stout
- 6 egg whites
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup + 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup blueberries
- ½ cup stout
- ¼ cup sugar
Dark Chocolate Stout Mousse
- Melt butter and dark chocolate in a double boiler
- Add ½ cup of stout and continue heating while stirring for another 5 minutes
- Remove from heat and set aside
- Separate egg whites and yolks
- Add 4 yolks to a new bowl and set aside other two for future use
- Add 2/3 cup of sugar and the 1 tbs of stout to the bowl and heat contents over a double boiler
- Whisk over heat until the sugar is dissolved and removed from heat to prevent yolks from cooking
- Continue whisking occasionally while egg yolk mixture cools to thicken
- Add egg yolk mixture to chocolate mixture
- Add salt and vanilla, stir
- In a mixer, whip egg whites until frothy
- Add 1 tbs of sugar and beat until egg whites are thickened and shiny but not stiff
- Fold chocolate mixture into egg whites
- Chill for 4-5 hours
- Mix by hand the flour, sugar, and chilled butter until just combined
- Add egg yolks and water and knead until the dough can form into a ball
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours
- Once finished chilling, preheat oven to 350˚F
- Grease muffin tins with butter
- Put about half a handful (or a couple tbs) of dough into each tin and spread out to cover walls of the tin and form a shell
- Bake for 15 minutes or until browned
- Let cool
- In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, stout, and sugar
- Heat over medium heat until liquid begins to boil
- Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes
- Remove from heat and set aside
- Spoon chocolate mixture into each of the tarts and let sit overnight to set further
- Top with blueberry syrup and serve