Last week, I promised more stone fruit, and here they are! Apricots! Apricots always remind me of my grandparents because when my grandpa and grandma would tend the wonderful apricot tree in our backyard, it would bear the most amazing fruit in the largest quantities you've ever seen for us. We'd have more apricots that we could ever imagine what to do with, and my mom would futilely try to stuff the ones that we couldn't eat into our already over-packed freezer. (Yeah, apricots never taste quite as good after they've been frozen.) Too bad that I didn't bake back then or else I would have made this: apricot pistachio chocolate mousse tartlets.
There's something about the chillier nights that we've been having lately that really had me craving a dessert more substantial than a simple apricot tart (though there is absolutely nothing wrong with a simple apricot + pastry tart!). I wanted something darker and more robust (I think this goes along with me being a very mood-oriented baker)--hence, enter the dark chocolate mousse and the layer of velvety dark chocolate painted on the bottom of each pistachio tart shell.
Years ago when I first started learning about cooking and watching the Food Network religiously, I, for some reason, came to think of mousse as this ridiculously difficult dessert to make and avoided it because of that, but in actuality, as I discovered a few years later, it's super simple, especially with chocolate mousse! The mousse filling for this tart is adapted from a chocolate mousse recipe out of my chocolate bible, and the hardest part is just folding the cooled chocolate custard into the whipped cream--but even that is hard to screw up, I promise. Then, the chocolate does all of the setting work in the fridge with no fuss required.
The tartlet crusts here are flavored with a hint of ground pistachio, just enough to give the crust a bite of nuttiness and earthiness. They turn out with the faintest trace of green if you squint your eyes and look really closely for it, but I love that they aren't the bright, in-your-face-food-dyed-unnatural green pistachio you sometimes see. Then, the rich creaminess and smoothness of the dark chocolate mousse is perfectly off-set by the almost-crispy, fresh, and mildly sweet apricot slices on top--I try to pile and stack as many of them as tightly as I can on top, because I like to have as much fruit as possible. Finally, a sprinkling of roughly chopped and toasted pistachios hint at the flavor in the tart crust, amidst all of that fruit and dark chocolate.
My serving suggestion for this tart would be to pair it with a nice, light dinner, as summery as you could possibly go (I opted for Vietnamese spring rolls), because this tart is so rich and hearty that you'll want to save most of your stomach for it--and a dark, straight-up black tea to go along.
Read on for recipe...
Apricot Pistachio Chocolate Mousse Tart
makes six 4.5-inch tartlets
Chocolate mousse recipe adapted from Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger's Essence of Chocolate.
240 gr AP flour
65 gr pistachios, raw and removed from shells (measured without shells)
50 gr sugar
7 Tbspn butter, cold
1 egg yolk
3-4 Tbspn water, cold
1-2 oz. dark chocolate, optional
1. In a food processor, combine the flour, pistachios, and sugar and process until the pistachios are finely ground.
2. Using the food processor or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour and pistachio mixture until the size of small peas.
3. Add the egg yolk and gradually add the water just until a dough begins to form when you press it between two fingers. Do not overmix.
4. Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour. (or stick it in the freezer for a shorter amount of time.)
5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
6. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pans. Prick the bottoms of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove the beans, and let cool.
8. Once the pastry crusts are cool, melt the dark chocolate, if using. Brush melted dark chocolate on the bottoms of each of the tarts. Let cool.
for chocolate mousse:
12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
4 egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 Tbspn sugar, opt*
2/3 cup heavy cream, cold
[*if you are using >70% dark chocolate, I recommend adding the sugar. for chocolate <70% dark, either skip the sugar or decrease the amount.]
1. Place chopped dark chocolate in a bowl with a fine mesh sieve on top and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Set aside.
3. In a saucepan on medium high heat, bring the milk and sugar to a simmer.
4. Temper the egg yolks by pouring in a small stream of simmering milk to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Once the yolks and milk are combined, return to the saucepan and to heat. Cook, scraping the bottom constantly with a spatula until a custard forms and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat immediately.
5. Pour the custard through the fine mesh sieve onto the chopped and prepared chocolate. Let sit for one to two minutes. Whisk the chocolate and custard together until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
6. Meanwhile, chill a large balloon whisk and bowl.
7. Once the chocolate custard has come to room temperature, whip the cold cream in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form.
8. Gently fold the cooled chocolate custard into the whipped cream until combined. Do not overmix.
9. Cover and chill the mousse to set in the refrigerator for at least four hours before using.
~12 medium-sized ripe but firm apricots
pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
1. Pipe or spoon the mousse into the prepared tart shells.
2. Slice the apricots and arrange on the chocolate mousse.
3. Warm the apricot jam and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat the apricot slices with warm jam.
4. Top with roughly chopped pistachios.