Monday, September 1, 2014

Chocolate Tarts with Almond Crust

Chocolate Tarts with Almond Crust

This month's Avid Baker's Challenge of King had me singing an old nursery rhyme while making them.:
The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer's day;          
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those tarts,
    And took them clean away. 
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
    And beat the knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
    And vowed he'd steal no more.
picture of a queen of hearts playing card; the queen has a chef's hat in her crown and is carrying a tray of tarts
(my version was "the king at the knave full swore", nothing about a beating, LOL)

The month's Challenge was to make the King Arthur Flour Almond Tarts, which has an almond filling.  I thought that an almond filling and an almond crust were too much alike.  I'd rather have some variety.

I didn't want to eat all of the tarts on my own, so I wanted to make sure my hubby would enjoy them with me.  So I asked my husband if he would rather have cherry pie filling or chocolate pastry cream.  It took him a very long time to choose--these are both his favorite fillings!  He finally decided on chocolate pastry cream.

Perfect, I thought!  I had the 4 egg yolks that I needed for the pastry cream in the freezer.  They were left over from the angel food cake I made awhile back.  Good chance to see how they would fare when they defrosted.

First, I made the pastry cream.  I think Mark Bittman's recipe is the easiest.  It was posted in the NY Times.

Pastry Cream


  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Salt
  • 2 eggs, or 4 yolks (just what I had!)
  • 2 cups cream, half-and-half or whole milk (I used 1% milk)
  • 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and cream. Over medium heat, whisk the egg mixture into the sugar mixture; whisk occasionally at first to get rid of lumps, then pretty much constantly until the mixture starts to boil and thickens, about 10 minutes.
Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. The mixture is ready when it coats the back of a spoon and a line you draw with your finger through this coating holds its shape. Stir in the butter and vanilla, and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. Let cool to room temperature before using.

2 1/2 cups


Chocolate pastry cream: Add 2 ounces chopped chocolate to the mixture as it cooks.
Coffee pastry cream: Add 1 tablespoon instant espresso or 2 shots freshly brewed espresso to the mixture as it cooks.
Boozy pastry cream: Skip the vanilla. Add 2 tablespoons Scotch, bourbon, rum or port to the finished mixture while it’s still hot.
I made the chocolate pastry cream version, hubby's favorite.  Hanaa, of Hanaa's Kitchen, recently said she makes pastry cream with 1% milk.  Thank you, Hanaa!!!  I saves calories and having to buy another milk variety.
I was going to strain the pastry cream (I think the defrosted egg yolks clumped a bit), but my hubby didn't want to lose a drop of  chocolate goodness!  I used 2 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips.

Next, I made the crust:

Adding the flour and almonds makes a crumbly mixture.

I put the mix together and then put the mix in the refrigerator overnight.  I like to bake in parts.

The next morning, I decided to bake the tart crusts.  Now, there's two times I should never bake--first thing in the morning (I'm not awake enough) or when I am on the phone.  I did both of these, and there was a comedy of errors.

Five tart pans???

First error.  I couldn't find the 6th tart pan!  Do you see 6 tarts in the picture above?  Well, I only saw 5.  Wake up, Judy!!!  That's why there's leftover crust mixture saved in the container above--for the 6th crust.

Here are the crusts in the freezer, for the 15 minutes necessary after shaping them into the tart pans.  (And after I rescued them quickly after putting them into the oven to bake).

Defrosting the whipped topping

While the tarts finally baked, I defrosted the whipped topping.  I have a favorite brand that's not available here, so I keep it frozen.  I didn't want to waterlog the container, so I it in a ziplock bag and defrosted it in cool water.  It worked fine.  I do this with packages of frozen meats all the time to defrost them quickly.

The whipped topping whips up really nicely.  As Julia Child says, "Whip to a frenzy!"  LOL

Assembly of the tarts was pretty quick.  We really enjoyed them for dessert that night!

If you want to see the awesome versions of this recipe by the other members of the Avid Baker's Challenge, please check out Avid Baker's Challenge

If you want to see the full recipe for the Almond Tarts (with almond filling) check out King Arthur Flour Almond Tarts

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Followup:  I froze 2 crusts, and made lemon curd.  I used one crust with some of the lemon curd and whipped topping.  It was wonderful!




  1. You certainly put those leftover egg yolks to good use; chocolate pastry cream with the almond crust and strawberry topping sounds like a lovely combination.
    (PS If you whisk a little sugar into your egg yolks before freezing - 1/2 tsp per yolk - they won't clump when they defrost)

  2. Haha! We really need some sort of warning system that keeps us out of the kitchen when it's not in our best interest to be there! (What's the whipped topping? You don't use cream?)

    1. Hello, Dos Gatos Baking!
      This is a non dairy/kosher creamer that I need to use for certain things. They don't sell it around here. I buy it over 100 miles away, and it comes frozen. Since we are paring things down before selling our house, I wanted to use it up now.

  3. Judy, these look fabulous and I am sure they tasted great! Hubby is fortunate to be a part of your test kitchen. I know all too well about the diasasters with "early mornings" and "the phone" while baking!

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    2. The chocolate pastry cream made a great cake filling.

  4. I think you missed something by not making the almond filling, as it is utterly delicious.... even though I love the sound of chocolate pastry cream and that topping!
    Great looking tarts either way.

    1. Thanks, Lien. We are selling our house, and I really didn't want to buy a bag of almond flour. We are paring down ingredients. I will try this in the future! Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. Yum, I LOVE pastry cream! I almost did this with my tarts too, but decided to try out the original recipe. Will try this next time.

  6. Your five tarts look lovely, Judy :) What's not to like about almonds, chocolate and whipped cream! Glad you like the 1% pastry cream version. I definitely don't miss the extra fat.

  7. Great job disasters notwithstanding! They look so appetising. Love the idea of using low fat pastry cream.