This month’s We Should Cocoa challenge ingredient, hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog, is “cheese.” That’s right, we’re supposed to make something involving cheese… and chocolate. I think the most obvious way of combining the two would be in the form of a cheesecake, but I’m not a fan of cheesecake (to put it mildly). I have made cheesecake a grand total of once in my entire life, as a birthday gift for somebody who absolutely adored cheesecake. However, the cheesecake, which, by the way, was delicious – and I know that for a fact because Kat and Craig tested the trial run for me, and I definitely trust them to tell me the truth, especially in this particular situation – suffered a terrible fate which I’m just going to refer to as the “cheesecake incident” (but if you desperately want to know what happened, I’ll refer you to point number 4 in this post) and move on, because the incident still irks me, over a year later (in case you couldn’t tell). Somewhat ironically, the white chocolate and lime cheesecake in question was my entry for the We Should Cocoa challenge back in March 2011.
Since it’ll clearly be a while before I ever attempt another cheesecake, I had to come up with some other way of combining cheese and chocolate. I’ve just remembered the cream cheese Kahlúa brownies that I made a few months ago – they would also have been perfect for this challenge (a bit late to think of that now though!). Now I must admit that I’m what can only be described as a cheese fiend, but I have never considered combining cheese (proper cheese, not cream cheese) with chocolate and I was at a bit of a loss. For inspiration, I looked the combination up in the Flavour Thesaurus, which only had an entry for chocolate and goat’s cheese, but said that they went surprisingly well together. Initially I wasn’t sure how I could combine the chocolate and goat’s cheese, but then I hit upon the idea of a chocolate pastry case and a goat’s cheese filling of some sort. My inspiration sort of stopped there though, and it wasn’t until a few days later that somebody mentioned something about figs and I suddenly thought of the roast figs with honey and goat’s cheese that I’ve previously posted, and wondered if I could do something similar… but in a chocolate pastry case. There was only one way to find out…
I picked up some delicious figs at the Farmers’ Market this morning, headed home, dug out a chocolate shortcrust pastry recipe, and gave it a go. Conveniently, the pastry requires some resting time, so I got some reading done (though unfortunately it was really boring – the biochemical workings of elasmobranch electroreceptors anyone…? No? You surprise me.). I’d never tried the pastry recipe before – it tasted good, but it was very fragile, possibly because I might have rolled it a little too thinly, so I had difficulties getting a couple of the tartlets out of their tins in one piece. I’ll have to try it again but not rolled as thinly to see if it’s a problem with the pastry in general or just this particular attempt. The chocolate isn’t an overpowering flavour in the tartlets, but you can definitely taste it, and it goes wonderfully with the fig and goat’s cheese filling. All in all, except for the pastry, I’m really pleased with how these turned out! And they would definitely make an unusual but super-tasty dessert. Since figs are in season here (did you know that they grow figs in NZ? I didn’t!), I’m also submitting this to the Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food – although the pastry is a bit of a faff, they’re actually super simple to throw together.
Fig, goat’s cheese & chocolate tartlets
Makes 6 tartlets
Pastry recipe from Petits plats entre amis
Filling recipe from my imagination
The number of figs required may differ depending on the size of the figs that you are using. The rosemary is totally optional, but it adds a subtle flavour that’s a little different and unexpected. For the chocolate pastry, make sure not to roll it too thin as I found that it’s very fragile and quite difficult to get out of the tins without breaking. Mini springform pans would be ideal, or silicone bakeware that can easily be “peeled off” the tartlets. The pastry needs to rest for 2h before being used, so remember to plan accordingly! The pastry recipe makes twice the amount required for the recipe, so either double the filling ingredients or make something else with it (it works for biscuits). These tartlets won’t keep very well, so they are best eaten the day they are made.
For the pastry (makes double the amount required):
250g all-purpose flour
200g unsalted butter
120g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water
For the filling:
12 medium-sized figs
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)
100g crumbly creamy goat’s cheese
6 tbsp walnut pieces
6 tbsp honey
For the pastry:
1. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the middle. Add the rest of the pastry ingredients, and mix together with a fork. Then, knead together until the pastry comes together and is well incorporated (don’t worry if this seems to be taking a while – it does come together eventually). Form into a ball, wrap in cling-film and rest for 2h in the fridge.
Assembling the tartlets:
2. Remove the pastry from the fridge, and allow to acclimatise a little for about 10-15 mins. Meanwhile butter six 10cm tartlet tins and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
3. Split the pastry into six even pieces, and roll each one out individually to fit a tartlet tin. Make sure not to roll it too thinly (no less than about 6mm). Line the tins with the pastry, and prick it with a fork. Line each pastry case with a piece of baking paper and some baking beans, and bake blind for 12 mins.
4. Meanwhile, quarter the figs. When the tartlets have been blind-baked, remove from the oven, and remove the baking beans. Make sure that the pastry case loosens from the tin. Arrange the fig quarters in the pastry cases (8 quarters per tartlet). Strip the sprigs of rosemary and sprinkle the leaves evenly between the tartlets, followed by the crumbled goat’s cheese and walnut pieces. Drizzle 1 tbsp of honey over each tartlet and bake for 15-20 mins.
5. Once baked, allow the tartlets to cool a little in their tins (the liquid will bubble down a bit and become a little less liquid-y) before turning out onto a wire rack. Eat warm or cooled.