2018 has been a whirlwind of a year for me so far. I left my 9-5 to follow my dream of a culinary career, pursued my real estate license, traveled to Amsterdam, and moved into a new apartment. I’m very tired. I’m hoping that now that we’re settled into our new home that I will have more time to start baking and writing again. And so I present to you my first bake in my new kitchen: Chocolate Apricot Tarts!
I first saw these little lovelies by Rebecca of Figs and Pigs when looking for handheld desserts for a Halloween party. How perfect these would have looked on my Halloween spread! The darkness of the chocolate surrounding a perfect pop of orange in the center. Mysterious yet sophisticated, like a garden party at Morticia’s. Unfortunately, apricots are not in season and almost impossible to get in October. I ended up getting horribly sick the week of Halloween anyway so my party spread ended up being a bit half-assed. The flavor combination intrigued me, however, so I put it on the list to try when they were available. These chocolate and apricot tarts are a lot of work, but if you are willing to put in the time, I think you’ll find they are worth it.
I was very intrigued by this idea of stone fruit with dark chocolate. It is not a combination that you see often in American palettes. You most often see apricots paired with other fruit, or vanilla and sugar in the form of cobblers and muffins, but you rarely see them together with the delicious bitterness of dark chocolate. And why not? It’s one of those things that shouldn’t work but for some reason does, like pineapple on pizza (I will fight you on this!), or platypuses (platypi? platypodes?). The apricots are just tart and sweet enough to play off the chocolate without overpowering it.
These little tartlets also had a delightful variety of textures. The thick apricot filling is mingled with the pudding-like chocolate topping, finished with the soft fresh fruit, and surrounded by the crumbly chocolate crust. The only drawback? They really must be eaten day-of or day-after. After that the crust starts to get soggy and the fruit starts to break down.
Yes, there are a lot of steps, but I believe in you! This recipe is not necessarily difficult, but the steps are sort of spread out. It’s a lot of prep, chill, prep, chill, bake, cool, prep, prep, assemble, bake, more assembly, bake again. If you’re planning on making these for a dinner I recommend starting early, or better yet, start the day before.
The dough for the crust can be prepared up to the first chilling and refrigerated overnight. Just be sure to take it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before you try to roll it out.
You can also make the apricot paste the night before and put it in a tupperware in the fridge for the night. Then the next day, start with step 4 and go from there.
A couple of quick tips:
- To make sure the tarts come out of their tins easily, I greased with shortening then “floured” with cocoa powder. They popped right out, no problem.
- When melting the chocolate over simmering water, make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, or the bowl may get too hot and burn your chocolate. You don’t need a lot of water, an inch or so will do. You don’t need a rapid boil, either. Slow and steady wins the race on this one.
- Peeling apricots sucks. Sorry. See my rant on it in the “Clarity” section below.
- I had a lot of leftover stuff. So if you want more than 4 tarts, don’t jump into doubling the recipe right away. See how many tins you can fill with the dough you have first, and then adjust from there. For handy guides and charts on scaling recipes and a multitude of other things, check out my Pinterest Board.
Well, obviously they’re adorable. I am obsessed with pretty food. If I ever post something that’s not pretty, bake it immediately because it’s obviously so delicious that I don’t care (i.e. gooey butter cake). They lost one star because I just couldn’t get the apricots to peel cleanly so they were a little scraggly. I might consider getting some apricot preserves or jelly to brush over the top next time to make them shiny and hide imperfections.
The directions were enough to get the job done with some interpretation. But you know how I feel about specifics and there just weren’t enough of them in this recipe for me. Who wants to start over because they misinterpreted an instruction that could have been more clear? Some of the things that I feel could have been a little more succinct were starting in step 3. The instructions do not indicate if the dried apricots should be boiled or simmered or what, just simply cooked.
It seems persnickety but it does make a difference in how soft the fruit gets. There is no instruction to drain the apricots, but it also seems strange to include the cooking water in the puree given that an exact measurement for the water wasn’t given. I ended up blending the apricots without and adding splashes of the cooking water to thin the puree as necessary.
My last issue would be peeling those goddamn apricots. The instructions simply say to pour the boiling water over the apricots then peel. It may sound crazy given that I have proclaimed my deep love of stone fruit, but I have never peeled an apricot before. In fact, the only stone fruit that I have ever peeled is a peach, and I just had at it with a knife as you would to peel an apple. I guess this is because I like the skin. I think it adds a nice texture and keeps the fruit together, therefore I tend to leave the skin on the majority of the time.
So I was confused by how long the apricots should soak in the boiling water, and how easily I should expect the skins to come off, and do I use a tool? I didn’t want to leave them in the hot water for too long as I was afraid the fruit would start to cook, but then the damn skins just weren’t coming off! I ended up actually boiling water twice. The second time I followed some google directions and plunged them into an ice bath after 30 seconds in the boiling water. Nope, still an epic pain. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be this hard or if I just had some particularly stubborn apricots. Honestly, next time I will just peel with a knife without the boiling water, or just leave the skin on.
This is one of the more expensive recipes I’ve posted. It came in at around $15 total for the exact measurements of the ingredients listed (except for the dried apricots and chocolate which I used the cost of the whole bars and bag of apricots). There was a lot of extra of each of the layers, however, so I do think you can get much more than 4 tartlets out of it. I made 5, but I had enough leftovers for probably 2 or 3 more. Something so decadent doesn’t come without a price tag.
Yeah… they’re not quick.
If you decide to give these chocolate and apricot tarts a shot, let me know how it went! I’ll leave you with this picture of me enjoying one of these tasty treats by the epic window light of my new apartment.