Chocolate Pie Pastry
makes enough for 20 small tarts; I use a heavy weight mini muffin pan- each opening measures 1" deep by 2 and 1/4" across.
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
8 oz. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4-6 tablespoons ice cold water
Grease and lightly flour your mini muffin pans.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Using a bench scraper, cut in cold butter until crumbly. Gradually add the ice cold water, using your fingertips to form the mixture into a soft dough. Form into a round disc, flatten and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. On lightly floured parchment paper, roll out dough about 1/8" thick. Use a 4" biscuit cutter or an inverted 4" fluted tart pan to cut out circles of dough. Gently ease the circles into the greased and lightly floured mini muffin pan, use your fingers to press the dough into the bottom of the pan and crimp the edges. Refrigerate (or freeze) until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake tart shells for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
Dark Chocolate Filling
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
½ teas. vanilla
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (NOT unsweetened) coarsely chopped 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
In a heavy saucepan, bring 1 cup of milk to a simmer. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoons of milk; whisk in cocoa powder and cornstarch until smooth. Gradually whisk in hot milk. Return the mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and butter, whisking until melted and smooth. Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard through the strainer, pressing with a rubber spatula. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool. Remove plastic wrap, divide custard between baked and cooled tart shells. Prepare Peppermint Marshmallow Meringue.
Peppermint Marshmallow Meringue
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 candy canes, pulsed until finely ground in a food processor
In a nonreactive metal bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar together until combined. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering (not boiling) water. Cook, whisking constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved; this takes about 8 minutes. (Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers; when it is no longer gritty, the sugar is properly dissolved.) The mixture should register 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bowl from over the pan of water. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high until stiff peaks form, add the cream of tartar, and continue beating until the meringue is thick. This will take about 7 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the vanilla and beat to combine. Scrape the meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the meringue over the chocolate filled tarts. Sprinkle generously with finely ground peppermint candy.
(note: Peppermint Extract can be overpowering- I find the finely ground peppermint candy adds just enough flavor.)