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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Cherry Chocolate Brownie Tarts

I have finally broke up for the summer holidays and already Marks & Spencer have back to school items in their windows - depressing or what!  Hopefully this summer will be filled with plenty of baking, lots of gym and days of sunshine.  I hope to finally get my back garden sorted out, it currently looks like a scene from 'Lost', and host lots of alfresco dinner parties.  

On Friday I went to the races, horse races, at Uttoxeter for a friends birthday.  Although I don't gamble it was an excuse to put together a cracking picnic and bake something yummy for dessert.  This recipe is slightly adapted from 'Smart Tart' by Tamasin Day-Lewis.  I say slightly adapted, basically I baked it as mini tarts instead of the large one she presents.  I have halved the amount of brownie mixture however due to there being far too much for 8 mini tarts - I could have filled at least 16!  The recipe does require cherry brandy, 2 tablespoons, and it can be costly but I managed to get a bottle half price (think it cost me £6)  or Tamasin states using any brandy and adding a teaspoon of almond extract to 'cherry it up'.

It is a bit of a pain to stone the cherries but actually it does not take long.  I didn't bother with any fancy cherry stoner gadgets and just used a sharp knife to cut round the stone, I was done in less then 10 minutes.

Make the pastry in the processor, it takes seconds, and rest it well in the fridge.  I found it much easier to cut it in to 8 equal sized pieces and then rolling out, instead of rolling out the whole lot and cutting to fit the mini cases.  If necessary warm the pastry in the hands before rolling out.

These tarts are great warm from the oven, or chilled (expect more fudge brownie)  I found that they warmed up in the picnic basket and when served where just about right!  I ate them without cream but maybe whipping up some cream with a dash of cherry brandy would really make these special.

Please note that in my photographs I made the original amount of batter - far too much!  So I have scaled it back.  Please ignore the amounts in the photographs.

Cherry Chocolate Brownie Tarts
Makes 8 small tarts

For the pastry
180g '00' plain flour
90g cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk (save the white)
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp ice cold water

For the brownie mix
1 punnet of cherries (or a jar of morello cherries if not in season)
2 tbsp cherry brandy (or brandy with 1 tsp almond extract added)
100g dark 70% or greater chocolate
175g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
75g muscovado sugar
75g caster sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g plain '00' flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder

To make the pasty, place the flour, egg, butter and icing sugar in a food processor.  Pulse until the butter is cut up.  Add the water and process for seconds until the mixture starts to come together (until it starts to come together, not turn in to a ball!)  


Tip on to a piece of plastic wrap and bring the pastry together with your hands.  Flatten out, wrap up and place in the fridge for a few hours or better still over night.

Preheat the oven to 180C (160 fan)  Place a large baking sheet in the oven to heat up.

Cut the pastry in to eight equal sized pieces and roll out each one to just larger than the tart tin.  Press in and cut of the excess.  

Line the cases with foil and weight down with baking beans (or any dried beans)  

Bake for 20 minutes on top of the hot baking sheet (go to *).  Then remove the oven, lift off the baking beans and foil and dock with a fork.  Brush with the left over egg white and return to the oven for 10 more minutes to dry out.



*  While the pastry is baking, cut up the cherries, removing the stones.  Place in a bowl and cover with the cherry brandy.  Leave to rest while you continue with the pastry.


To make the brownie mix, place the sugar, eggs and vanilla in the bowl of a food mixer fitted with the whisk and turn on high.  Whisk for 3 minutes until very light and pale.


While this is mixing, heat 75g of the chocolate and all  the butter in a small pan over a very low heat.  When the chocolate is about melted remove from the heat and mix, allow to cool.

Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa.  Whisk on low to beat in.

Pour in the chocolate mixture and whisk again.

Remove the bowl from the machine and tip in the cherries and soaking liquid.  Mix with a large spoon.


Transfer spoonfuls in to the pastry cases.  Return to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are slightly firm but still give a little.  Remember you want the mix to be slightly undercooked.

Melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave and pour over the top of the tarts.  If you like you can dip some whole cherries in chocolate and place them on top - just remember to warn people they still contain the stone!  I dusted with a little cocoa.