Chocolate Espresso Meringue Tarts

Chocolate Meringue Tart

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Chocolate and espresso are a wonderful combination. I actually don’t make any chocolate desserts without instant espresso powder any more, it adds delicious coffee notes and also intensifies the chocolate flavor. Can’t go wrong with that.

I adapted the chocolate tart recipe here from Better Homes and Gardens but added the espresso and made a few other small changes. For the crust I used a slightly modified version of this cooks.com recipe. (I know everyone seems to have a pie crust recipe they swear by but if you don’t this one is really good).

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Chocolate Espresso Meringue Tarts Recipe

serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

For the crust:

  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2.5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the chocolate filling:

  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bars)*
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the meringue:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

 

DIRECTIONS:

For the crust:

  1. Set aside 6 four-inch diameter tart molds (you won’t need to grease them).
  2. Mix the vinegar and the milk. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together flour and salt, then cut in the butter and the shortening.
  4. Pour the milk/vinegar into the flour/fat and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl anymore (it should have the consistency of play dough).
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  6. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough and fit it into the tart molds. (You can gather the scraps and roll them out again if you have to).
  8. Line the tarts with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  9. Bake the crusts for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and continue to bake until browned (about another 18 minutes).
  10. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

For the chocolate filling:

  1. Whisk sugar, flour, espresso powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add 1/4 cup of the hot milk to the yolks, continuing to whisk. Add another 1/4 cup and keep whisking.
  4. Add the rest of the milk to the yolks and whisk until combined.
  5. Whisk the dry ingredients into the milk mix, then return everything to the saucepan and bring to a full boil. Once it’s come to a boil, immediately take off the heat.
  6. Whisk in the chocolate and the butter, then set aside.

For the meringue:

  1. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until soft peaks start to form.
  2. Slowly add the sugar, continuing to beat until you have stiff peaks.
  3. Fill the warm chocolate filling into the tart shells.
  4. Pipe or dollop the meringue onto the chocolate filling, making sure that it touches the rim of the tart shells all around.
  5. Bake until lightly browned (10 to 15 minutes).

 

RECIPE NOTES:

*Don’t use chocolate morsels; morsels have stabilizers in them that actually prevent them from melting.

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Food Photography and Styling: I really liked the little “hook” that the meringue formed at the top, I thought it made the tart look like one of the seven dwarfs. (I love to personify food like that). Before I started shooting I swiveled the tart around to see which orientation of the hook would look best and settled on having it point toward the front and left of the frame.

Next I opened the tart because I wanted the viewer to see the chocolate inside and the fluffy texture of the meringue. A few crust crumbs in front of the little saucer made it look as if someone was in the process of eating and a few chocolate shavings reinforced the idea that this was a chocolate tart. I placed a small jar of milk in the background to keep it from looking too empty and then lit the set straight from the side. I blocked the light in the back of the frame to keep the focus on the tart and also used a very small flag (a 2-inch by 2-inch piece of black cardboard that I taped to the end of a wooden skewer) to block some of the light that was falling directly on the white meringue to keep it from getting overexposed.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/8, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

7 comments

  1. Nagi@RecipeTin Eats says:

    Hi Nicole!! I adore the flavours in this tart! Here in Australia I never seem to see meringue with anything other than lemon which is yum but nothing new!! Thanks for sharing this! I thought I left a comment already but clearly not!

  2. Nagi@RecipeTin Eats says:

    Just re-reading the section about the shot, just wondering what you mean by blocking the light t the back of the frame? I love the way your photos have the light focussing on the food and I can’t imagine how you manage that! I can see you have the light placed at 7 o’clock (front left) so I have no idea how you manage to keep the back so dark, especially because I think the light you are using is actually quite a powerful one!

    So appreciative if you have the time to respond to this! – Nagi

    • Nicole B. says:

      Sure! My strobe was positioned at pretty much exactly 9 o’clock with the camera at 6 o’clock. It did have my large softbox on it and the front diffusion screen of the softbox ran completely parallel to the “table.” To block the light in the back of the frame I just put a black foam board in between the softbox and the set.

      • nagi@RecipeTin Eats says:

        Thank you so much for explaining Nicole! I really struggle with artificial lighting (well, controlling any lighting really!) I never thought to run the light so the edge of the soft box runs along the table instead of on the food itself. I’ll have fun experimenting with that this weekend! I don’t have a soft box, I have one of those umbrellas with a diffuser over it (hand me down…). I find that it splays the light way too much so I don’t like using it. I might have to put a soft box on my wish list for Christmas this year….tad too expensive for Santa though I expect!!

        Thank you again for taking the time to explain. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!

        • Nicole B. says:

          Thank you, Nagi! I’ve never worked with umbrellas but I can imagine that the light is much more unwieldy with them than it is with a softbox…

  3. Francesca says:

    I made these for Christmas Eve and Day dessert. I already had pie crust made and frozen so I used that and I topped the tarts with whipped cream instead of meringue. The chocolate espresso filling was so delicious! I love the chocolate coffee combo!

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