Petits Fours Nationaux
While it’s not possible to give recipes for every one of the little treats in the photo, the following is a typical Swiss chocolate tart seen in fine hotels and pastry shops all over the country and a fitting selection as a recipe for August 1.
The beautiful presentation in the photo was made at the Swisshotel Metropole in Geneva.
Twenty-four 2 1/2-inch tartlets
8 ounces/2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup/112 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
2 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups/340 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
1 cup chocolate shavings
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Twenty-four 2 1/2-inch diameter round tartlet pans
- For the dough, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on lowest speed until well mixed, then increase to medium speed and beat until lightened, about 3 minutes. Beat in the extracts, then the egg yolks, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and beater and beat in the flour on lowest speed. Scrape the dough to a lightly floured work surface and gently knead the dough together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into disks, and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling.
- To make the tartlet shells, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured surface. Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into 4 pieces. Leave one piece of dough out and refrigerate the rest. Flour the dough and use a rolling pin to press it in a series of close parallel strokes to soften it. Roll the dough to a 6-inch square. Use a 2 3/4 to 3-inch plain cutter to cut rounds of the dough. Fit them into the pans and use your thumbs to press them well into the bottom and sides of the pans. Use the back of a knife to sever and excess dough even with the rims of the pans. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, refrigerating the scraps as they are formed. Re-roll some of the scraps to make the last few tartlet crusts. Line the little pans up on a jellyroll pan as they are lined. Cover the whole pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tartlet crusts for at least 2 hours to help prevent excessive shrinkage during baking. Press any remaining scraps together and refrigerate them. Roll them out within a couple of days to make some simple cookies.
- When you are ready to bake the tartlet shells, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Remove the pan of tartlet shells from the refrigerator and use a fork to pierce the dough all over at 1/4-inch intervals – this eliminates the need to fill the crusts with beans or other weights while they are baking.
- Bake the tartlet crusts for about 15 minutes, or until they are a pale golden color. Cool the crusts in the pans on a rack. After the crusts have completely cooled, remove them from the pans and line them up on a clean jellyroll pan.
- For the chocolate filling, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally to mix in the corn syrup. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Wait 1 minute and whisk smooth. Pour the chocolate filling into a large measuring cup to make it easy to fill the crusts later on. Let the chocolate filling cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
- Pipe or spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of the raspberry preserves into each baked crust. Fill level with the top of the crust with the chocolate filling. Let the filling cool completely and set.
- To finish the tartlets, cover the chocolate filling completely with chocolate shavings. One at a time, finish the tartlets by gently holding the blade of a small offset spatula at the diameter of each tartlet. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and lift the blade away so that the area in the center of the tartlet has no sugar on it.