Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago fame (really, she’s famous) chose this week’s Project Pastry Queen Challenge: Texas Big Hairs Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Tarts. Yeah, it’s a dessert as big as its name. And boy, does it bring back memories.
Working at my parents’ bakery when I was younger, I’d put on one of the pie gloves (an elbow-high rubber glove-type thingy) and reach into the giganti-bowl of the giganti-mixer. (Seriously. The thing was commercial-sized gigantic.) Scoop. Plop. And then the shaping and “teasing” of the meringue began. The pressure was on – The Boss wanted big tall peaks with those perfect fold-over loops. The pie couldn’t even get near the oven without a perfectly teased meringue. (Oh, how I hated meringue pies.)
Even without The Boss looking over my shoulder, critiquing every single glossy peak, I still took the minimalist route on the meringue. I think I might be scarred for life I baked one large tart instead of four “small” ones (two people would be perfectly content splitting a single tart) so the dessert would be Girls’ Night friendly. I swapped peanuts for the hazelnuts and added a little peanut butter to the crust for some extra peanuty flavor. There’s just no beating the chocolate + peanut butter combo (unless we’re considering the lime + tequila combo).
Classic flavors that come together pretty quickly and simply in an uber rich tart. Couldn’t ask for much more! Except for maybe a big tall glass of milk. And a kitchen fairy to clean up after I finished baking. A girl can dream.
Thanks to Joelen for picking such a decadent recipe! Be sure to check out the Project Pastry Queen blogroll for other versions of the Texas Big Hairs Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Tarts (whew!). And stay tuned for next week when Katy hosts Project: Jailhouse Potato Cinnamon Rolls.
Chocolate Peanut Meringue Tarts
A rich tart with a peanut butter crust and dark chocolate ganache.
- For the crust
- 1/3 cup roasted/unsalted peanuts , very finely chopped (I used a food processor)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup flour
- Extra butter or non-stick cooking spray
- For the filling
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
- 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- For the meringue
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With your fingers, butter or spray a 9-inch tart pan.
- Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add salt and flour until just incorporated. Add the peanuts and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and press into the tart pan, making sure the dough comes up to the top edge of the pan.
- Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes. (At this point, the crusts can be cooled and stored in airtight containers for up to 2 days.)
- To make the filling: Combine the cream, butter, salt and in a sauce pan. Scrape the vanilla pod halves and add the scrapings and pod halves to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and take out the vanilla pod. Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Spoon the ganache into the tart shells. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or until set.
- To make the meringue: Set the bowl of your stand mixer (or other non-plastic mixing bowl) over a pot of simmering water. Pour in the egg whits and sugar. Heat the egg whites and sugar while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue. Take a little meringue mixture and rub it between your fingers to make sure all the sugar grains have melted and dissolved. Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes; then increase the speed to high and whisk for 5 more minutes, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
- Pile the meringue on top of the cooled tart, being sure to seal each tart by spreading the meringue to the edge of the pan. Style the meringue with your fingers or a spoon by plucking at it to tease the meringue into jagged spikes.
- Using a kitchen torch or a fully heated broiler, heat the meringue just until it begins to turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Refrigerate leftovers.
Yields: 8 servings
Estimated time: 3 hours