So, after taking a little break from the blogging…OK, lets be serious, I lost my inspiration for a little while, but I’m working on finding it again! But lucky for ya’ll, I’m back and moving forward! I’m going to try something new for a while. I’ll take you guys on the adventure of my life and introduce you to the things that inspire me and what I’ve been doing to get my mojo back. There’s really no rhyme or reason to me and my inspiration, but I do love everything that I do. Today is no exception. Blackberries are in season right now and this past week I picked a whole mess of them. (For those of you who don’t know what a mess is, it’s a term used down south when we want to add some emphasis to something we’ve done. “I caught a mess of fish”, or “I shelled a mess of peas” are both statements I heard exclaimed in my house growing up. Basically we want you to know that we have a lot of something and put a lot of time into getting it!)
Since I had a mess of these juicy little devils, I thought I’d make two different desserts with them. My husband is always bothering me to have homemade desserts in the house, so hopefully this keeps him happy for a little while! In this post I’ll be showing you how I made a blackberry and strawberry chocolate tart. I love tarts, because they are similar to a cheesecake, just not as thick, so less goes to your hips (in my house) or to waste (in households with better self control when it comes to sweets!). They are also incredibly eye appealing for a dinner party. OOHHH’s and AAHHH’s will be heard all over when you walk in with this stunning dessert. Little do they know that these are pretty easy to make! In the next post, we’ll bake one of the most southern dishes of all time…blackberry cobbler.
I have made both of these dishes several times, so I’ve made plenty of mistakes! Mostly I think that I usually know better than the recipe that I’m using, which works to both my advantage and disadvantage. Some things come out better than I planned, some not so much. Hopefully in the instructions I’ll give you some helpful hints to help you experiment and to avoid a kitchen disaster!
So lets get baking!!!
Blackberry and Strawberry Chocolate Tart
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (better known as powdered sugar!)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (yes, it is important to use all purpose versus self rising flour, as you do not want your crust to rise too much!)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature and sliced (I use unsalted butter, because I like to add salt at other points in the recipe, but it’s your choice)
8 ounces cream cheese (1 package)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (definitely not the same sugar you used in the crust! This is the normal sugar that you would see most everywhere)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract (I’ll show you a picture of the vanilla I use, it’s the best 🙂 )
4 ounces semi-sweet bakers chocolate (usually 1 package, depending on what brand you buy)
1 ounce butter
8 large strawberries, cut into quarters
2-3 cups Blackberries, depending on how large they are (Really you just need enough fruit to cover the top of the tart, so if you have other types that you want to use, go for it, the sky is the limit!)
Reserve a little of the melted chocolate from the filling to drizzle on top, if you would like
2 pinches finely ground sea salt (I like the taste of the sea salt better than other salts, but it’s your choice. The salt will help to bring out the sweetness of the berries, I promise! I know it sounds impossible, but salt helps to bring out sweet notes of ingredients like fresh berries!)
Glaze: (basically the glaze is to give the tart a nice shiny glaze and to keep your fruit from turning brown. Most glazes involve lemonade or limeade fruit concentrates. I try to stay away from ingredients like these, because of the high fructose corn syrup. No, I’m not one of those crazy people who gets all high and mighty about the ingredients they use, and say that I always stay away from chemicals, mostly because this is not always possible,and I don’t want ya’ll to think I’m disingenuous! This version of a glaze is not as thick as a traditional glaze, but it still serves the same purpose, minus the cancer causing high fructose corn syrup!)
Juice from 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whipped cream to dollop on top, if this recipe hasn’t sufficiently soothed your sweet tooth!
The Game Plan…
Start by preheating your oven to 350* F. Next, I like to get my chocolate and 1 ounce of butter melting over the stove. It is always best to melt chocolate with butter, because it helps to keep it from sticking to the pot and gives it a nice, silky sheen. This is important when using the chocolate as a drizzle, like I plan on doing with this tart topping. At this point, if you have a double boiler, fill it and use it to start melting your butter and chocolate. If you’ve never heard of a double boiler and think I’m making words up, have no fear! Here is my version of a double boiler.
Basically your fill one pot a little less than half full with water and put a slightly smaller pot that fits a little snugly in it. You put the ingredients that you want to melt in the top pot and turn the burner on to medium heat. This is another great way to melt items slowly and keep them from burning. This is the only way I melt chocolate!
Next were going to start making our crust. In the picture above, you see that I’ve got my Kitchen Aid mixer out. Just to keep us all honest, I had planned on using it and it also looks super cute in the picture. However, it decided to stop working today and I’m going to have to do some maintenance on it! I had to switch at the last minuet to my food processor.
No worries if you aren’t obsessed with kitchen appliances like I am. Luckily for you, the Good Lord blessed you with 2 fantastic ways to make crust; your hands! This is also a great job for the little pastry chef in your house. Just start mashing the crust ingredients together and you will end up with the same ball of dough that I got out of the food processor. If you are using a kitchen appliance, put all of the listed ingredients in and start mixing until a ball forms. Here’s another great place to list an issue that I’ve had while making dough. A ball doesn’t just magically appear like some recipes would have you believe. Sometimes it gets a little grainy and doesn’t form right away. Fear not, just turn off the mixer or food processor and use a spatula or your hands (God gave them to you for a reason!) to push in the flour and sugar back into the middle of the bowl and start mixing again.
When everything is mixed well, and you still don’t have a ball, pull everything out and form your own ball! Take the ball that you formed that the kitchen appliance merely assisted with and put it in the center of the tart pan. This is on the items that you will need to make a proper tart, because the bottom comes out and leaves you with perfectly fluted edges. You can use a regular pie pan that you buy at the store if you don’t want to buy a tart pan for the fruit tart that you’ll make maybe once or twice a year! They still taste the same! If presentation is important to you, like it is to me, invest in a tart pan. They can be found fairly cheaply at most stores that sell kitchen equipment. After you’ve put the dough ball in the center of your pan, press the ball out flat and up the sides of the pan.
The dough is pretty forgiving, so you can push it around as much as you need, to make sure it’s even around the bottom and edges of the pan. Next, toss it in your preheated oven. I like to use the middle rack in my oven, but you know your appliances better than I do, so this is your choice. Bake it for about 10 minuets or so (it was 12 in my oven, but here again, you know our oven, so you’ll have to watch it and determine the amount of time it will take) until it starts to become golden brown around the edges.
In the mean time, your chocolate and butter mixture should be melting. You can stir it at this point to incorporate the butter and chocolate together. If the bottom pot starts to run out of water from the release of steam, just add more.
To start the filling, mix the cream cheese and granulated sugar together in a mixer, or use a hand mixer like I did, since my mixer decided not to show up for work today! Again, you can use a big spoon to do this, if you don’t have a bunch of appliances taking up space in your kitchen. Add the vanilla and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated together.
Your chocolate should be completely melted by this point, if not, just wait a little longer, it will get there, I promise! When the chocolate has reached a nice shiny consistency that can be easily stirred with a spatula or spoon, you are ready to add it to the cream cheese mix. Add most of it, reserving a little to drizzle on the top, if you so choose, if not, you can add all of it to the mix. Stir until the chocolate is well incorporated.
Your crust should be pretty close to being done by now, but if not, move on to making the glaze. If it is done, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool.
There is a good reason why you need to let it cool, and from experience I will let you know why shortly. Baked goods seem to cool faster and more consistently when placed on a cooling rack to let air under the pan, so I do suggest using some sort of cooling rack. If your dough has risen a little and your nervous about having enough room for your filling, fret not, it will flatten!
While your crust is either cooling or finishing up browning in the oven, you can start your glaze. Basically, you are going to take all the ingredients listed and mix them together in a small pot over medium to low heat. When they start to simmer and turn into a fairly clear liquid (it will never be completely clear, no matter what the instructions tell you!), stir them together one last time and remove it from the burner and let it cool. It usually takes about 2 minuets to make a glaze on the stove, but again it depends on how hot your stove top runs. While this is cooling, bring back your cooled crust.
Start by dolloping (another great southern word that basically means to take giant spoonfuls) the chocolate cream cheese mix the in the middle of the cooled crust. After you’ve gotten most of the filing dolloped in the crust, start spreading it around. Here is where a cooled crust comes into play….if the crust isn’t cooled, it will stick to the filling when you try to spread it and make a giant mess! Yes, I know this from experience. After you’ve spread around the initial dollops of filling around the crust, you can add whatever remains in the bowl to the crust and spread it to make everything even. Now is where your personality gets to come out!
Take your strawberries (they should already be cut, because that’s what the ingredients list says… Strawberries cut into quarters, but if you’re like me and like to color outside the lines, quarter or cut your strawberries now) and blackberries and start covering the chocolate cream cheese filling. There is no right or wrong way to decorate your tart. You can even cut your strawberries differently if that works better for your design! You can be as intricate or playful as you’d like, it’s up to you and your personality.
After you’ve covered the filling, remove the outer ring of the tart pan, if you’ve chosen to use one, by picking up the pan and gently pushing up on the bottom on the pan with one hand and holding the outer ring with the other. There’s so much butter in this thing that it will slide right right! Now you can drizzle your cooled glaze over the fruit. A cooled glaze works better than a warm one, because you don’t want to cook your fruit, you just want to protect it from turning brown and make a nice sheen. Some recipes say to use a pastry brush to spread the glaze, but I choose to drizzle with a spoon, mostly because pastry brushes are a pain to clean, and they can take space in your kitchen that could be better utilized for something that you will use so much more often! You can be done with your tart at this point and it will be beautiful! However, if your like me and want to stand out so everyone remembers you, take your leftover chocolate, warm it up in the double boiler if its hardened a little, and drizzle it over the top of the glaze. Again, there’s no one way to drizzle chocolate. Get it on the end of a fork or spoon and lets the chocolate fall where it may! Once you are satisfied with the drizzled chocolate application, take a few pinches of finely ground sea salt (or whatever salt you want to use) and sprinkle it over the top. This will give the tart that extra pow that will keep it in the minds of everyone who has a slice! You can serve it with whipped cream if you like, but this tart has enough flavor to stand on it’s own!
Now comes my favorite part….taking pictures of what you’ve created! You would think that it would be eating it, but no, I want pictures. If your like me and want great pictures of everything you create, don’t sell yourself short. Your beautiful tart deserves a place of honor for it’s portrait. I chose my antique serving buffet to display my handiwork. Since not everyone has an antique serving buffet in their house, you can place it where you would imagine serving it from at a dinner party or to your family at a holiday. I promise, the thought and effort is well worth it in the end. You will have a great picture of your prized tart to post on Facebook for all of your friends to admire (and lets be honest, be a little jealous of!). Voila! You have just created a fantastic blackberry and strawberry chocolate tart!
Check back for the blackberry cobbler recipe! It will be up as soon as I take the time to write down the recipe!