Having successfully manipulated our guests’ expectations with the orange and beet jellies, I wanted to end the meal with a playful dessert, something less formal that what I have served in the past. This recipe – a “grown-up” version of a peanut butter cup – is from Eric Ripert’s On the Line, his account of life at his restaurant Le Bernardin, but is a creation of Michael Laiskonis, his genius pastry chef. The quantities here (with the exception of the garnishes) are doubled to serve eight instead of four.
Even after making the decision to omit the malted milk chocolate rum ice cream accompaniment (I had already served two ice creams – even I have my limits), I had multiple components to assemble. Fortunately, everything was a do-ahead, so I began with the peanut butter powder garnish. I needed a tablespoon and a half of creamy peanut butter, a tablespoon of peanut oil, and a cup of tapioca maltodextrin (the same dehydrating agent used in the dry caramel, salt).
I blended the oil and peanut butter in a food processor, then added the maltodextrin a quarter cup at a time, making sure it was fully incorporated each time. I stored the powder in an airtight container until plating.
To make the tart shells, I used a cup and a half of flour, a cup of confectioner’s sugar, six tablespoons of cocoa powder, six egg yolks, and eight tablespoons of butter.
While I creamed the butter and sugar, I sifted the cocoa and flour together and beat the eggs. I added the dry ingredients to the butter, followed by the eggs, mixing until just incorporated. I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and let it refrigerate for an hour.
While the dough chilled, I mad a chocolate ganache from four ounces of dark chocolate (55%), a half cup of heavy cream, a tablespoon of light corn syrup, and a tablespoon of butter. I heated the cream and corn syrup, poured it over the chopped chocolate, stirred until smooth, then finished with the butter. I kept the ganache warm to fill the shells.
I also made a batch of caramel sauce (sugar, corn syrup, cream, butter) and kept it warm.
I rolled out the chilled tart dough until it was about an eighth of an inch thick, then cut eight four and a quarter inch rounds.
I pressed the dough into individual tartlet molds, which is when I discovered that the molds were larger than my rounds. I wound up using the dough scraps to build up the sides of the shells.
I baked the shells for about fifteen minutes at 300°F, then let them cool to room temperature. I spread a tablespoon of chopped, roasted, salted peanuts across the bottoms, then added about two tablespoons of the warm caramel.
I froze the tarts for fifteen minutes to set the caramel, then layered the warm ganache on top. I let the tarts rest at room temperature until served, which gave the ganache time to set.
To plate, I ran a stripe of caramel across the plate, set down the tart, dusted the caramel with more chopped peanuts and a few pieces of candied citron peel, added a few drops of chocolate ganache, and finished with a dusting of peanut butter powder on the tart. (Same photo as above, but it’s pretty.)
I served a coffeehouse porter, knowing that the coffee bitterness would balance the tart’s sweetness.
After his first bite, one of the guests said “It’s like a cross between a peanut butter cup and a chocolate turtle, but for adults.” Exactly.
Chocolate, cream, butter: Whole Foods
Peanuts: Trader Joe’s
Candied citron peel: Belm Utility Research Kitchen
Tapioca maltodextrin: L’Epicerie
Berkshire Brewing Co. coffeehouse porter: Central Bottle