Lemon Lime Tartlets & Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tartlets — A {ModBak} Twofer

With two weeks left to go in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I found myself with four recipes remaining. The kids are out of town, and we decided to have a low-key day today, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to play a little catch-up. I decided to knock out three recipes at once. The lemon lime tartlet and chocolate caramel pecan tartlet recipes each make 24 tartlets, way too many to have around with just J and me to eat them. Since each recipe calls for the tart shells to be prebaked, I figured I would bake the shells together and then fill them.

As for the third recipe, well, that’s the tartlet shells for the chocolate caramel pecan tartlets. The recipe calls for shells made with chocolate nut dough, and since this is the first recipe to use that dough, I hadn’t made it yet. The lemon lime tartlets are made with sweet tart dough, which I’ve made for many of the recipes in this section.

I mixed up both doughs early in the day and let them chill in the fridge for a few hours. For the lemon lime tartlets, I rolled out the sweet tart dough, cut it into circles, and pressed each disk into a mini muffin pan. Then I did the same with the chocolate nut dough.

I chilled the dough in the pans for about an hour, then baked the shells in a 350°F oven for 12 minutes. Although I pricked the dough well with a fork before baking, the shells puffed up to the point where there was no room for filling. While the shells were still hot, I pressed the center of each one with a small ladle to make room for the filling. I cooled the crusts in the pan for a few minutes, then removed them to a cooling rack. A few of the bakers in the Challenge noted that their tartlet shells stuck when they baked them in mini muffin pans. Knowing this, I had sprayed my pan lightly with spray oil, and my shells came out beautifully.

While the tart shells were cooling, I toasted coconut for the lemon lime tartlets, then made the filling for the chocolate caramel pecan tartlets. (I didn’t have to make the lemon lime filling, as I had leftover lemon and lime curds in the fridge from making ice cream.) The chocolate filling isn’t particularly difficult, although it does require quite a few steps and dirties a lot of pans and bowls. The caramel is made in one pan while the cream is heated in another. These are combined, then scraped into a bowl to cool. Chocolate, which has been melted and cooled in another bowl, is then added to the caramel-cream mixture, and butter and nuts (which have been toasted in a separate pan) are added last.

After making the filling and shells, assembling the tartlets was a breeze. I spooned the chocolate caramel pecan tartlet filling into the shells and topped each one with a toasted pecan.

For the lemon lime tartlets, I had planned to mix my lemon and lime curds, which I had made and stored separately, but Nick cautions against overstirring the curd, lest it become too liquid. I tested this by putting a spoonful of each into a bowl and mixing them. Sure enough, the curd broke down and become too watery to hold up in the tart shells. So I filled half the shells with lemon curd and the other half with lime curd, then topped them with toasted coconut.

My wife and I enjoyed these tartlets for a late-evening snack. We loved the flavor of all three of the tartlets, although we did discover that it was best to eat the chocolate ones first, as they tended to taste a little bitter after eating the curd-filled tartlets.

These were delicious tarts, and I will definitely make them again. However, unless I’m making them for a finger-food event, I would be inclined to do them as full size tarts, rather than tartlets.

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Chocolate Nut Dough {ModBak}

The last of the dough recipes in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker is only used in one recipe in the section — chocolate caramel pecan tartlets — although Nick Malgieri notes in the recipe that it would be good with any tart featuring chocolate. After my successes with sweet tart dough, nut tart dough, and press-in cookie dough, I knew this one would be great, too.

This recipe is similar to the nut tart dough, and even though it was my first time making it, I felt like I had done it before. I began by pulsing sugar and almonds in the food processor until the nuts were powdery.

Then I added flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and pulsed to mix. Next, I put in cold butter that I had cut into small pieces, and pulsed the mixture until the butter was finely mixed in. Finally, the recipe called for an egg, egg yolk, and water. After adding the liquid ingredients, I mixed the dough until it came together in a ball.

I was making a half recipe and had to improvise on the liquids a bit (have you ever tried to mix in half an egg or half an egg yolk?) I used a whole egg, no yolk, and a very small amount of water. Nonetheless, my dough seemed a bit wet after it was mixed up. I thought about adding more flour, but decided just to chill it well and use plenty of flour when I rolled it out.

The dough firmed up nicely in the fridge, and with generous dusting, rolled out well, too. I was using the dough for tartlets, so I cut the rolled dough with a round scalloped cutter and pressed the circles into a mini muffin pan.

I chilled the dough in the pan for a few hours and baked it at 350°F for about 12 minutes. Despite having pricked the dough with a fork prior to baking, it rose up in the pan as it baked. I pressed the center of each tart down with a small ladle as soon as they came out of the oven, which worked well to get the tartlets in shape for filling.

The dough tasted great, almost like a chocolate cookie. As for the tartlets, well, you’ll just have to wait for my next post to see how they came out.