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I Love Chocolate

by Stephanie Zonis

 

Chocolate-Almond Petits Fours

48 or more petit fours

 

These fancy little treats would be ideal for a holiday cookie tray or a gift. There is a thin crust topped with a layer of jam, then a layer of chocolate. In turn, that is surmounted by a thick almond filling and a bittersweet chocolate glaze. You will need pure almond paste for the filling; the brand I like is called "Odense". It is imported from Denmark, but I can find it in a local supermarket. It has a good flavor and no preservatives. You will notice that there is food coloring in the filling, which is unusual for me. You can omit it, but without it the filling is not the most attractive color. The amount of coloring used will result in a color that is not deep, and it looks quite pretty contrasted with the chocolate glaze.

Make sure the chocolate you use for the glaze is of good quality! Taste a bit before you use it; if it isn't smooth in your mouth, it won't be smooth in the glaze. I serve these in individual candy or muffin cups (depending upon what size you cut them). These will keep for a week or so in the fridge, if stored airtight, but place a paper towel on top of the petits fours before you close the container, and bring them to room temperature before serving. Rather to my surprise, these don't freeze well.

 

2/3 cup good-quality seedless red raspberry jam, stirred well
8 ozs. (1-1/3 cups) good-quality miniature semisweet
   OR bittersweet chocolate chips

Crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg yolk, from egg graded "large"
   (reserve the egg white for the filling)
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. heavy cream

Filling:
12 ozs. good-quality pure almond paste
1 egg white plus 6 whole eggs, graded "large"
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
6 drops green food coloring

Glaze:
6 ozs. good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz. good-quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
Pinch salt
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup, at room temperature
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into three chunks and softened
Up to 2 Tbsp. hot water

 

Line a 13x9x2-inch pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up. Adjust rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready the raspberry jam and the miniature chocolate chips; cover each and set aside at room temperature until needed.

For Crust:
In medium bowl, cream softened butter, sugar, and salt until well-mixed and fluffy (I do this by hand, but you can use a mixer if you wish). Beat in egg yolk. Stir in about half of flour, then all of cream. Add remaining flour and stir in until incorporated.

Place by small spoonfuls all over bottom of foil-lined pan. Lightly flour your fingertips as needed, and use them to press dough into an even layer on the pan bottom. Cover the top of the pan with a layer of plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature until needed (the Filling must be put onto the Crust while the latter is still hot, so I have the Filling ready before I bake the Crust).

For Filling:
Into workbowl of sturdy, large-capacity food processor fitted with steel blade, crumble the almond paste. Add the egg white and four whole eggs. Cover; process at highest speed for three bursts of twenty seconds each, scraping down sides of workbowl between each. Add remaining two whole eggs; process for about 15 seconds to incorporate well. Add the butter (which must be very soft, but not melted), sugar, and vanilla, and process until well-combined (mixture will be thick and may look curdled--OK). Add the heavy cream; process briefly to combine. Add flour and salt, and process till blended. Finally, add food coloring, and process just to mix in. This mixture will probably still look curdled, and it will be a darker green that you think reasonable. Trust me--it'll be OK. This lightens in color and smoothes out magically as it bakes. Turn the mixture into a nonreactive large bowl. If necessary, stir or fold until the green color becomes uniform throughout. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until needed.

Remove plastic wrap from top of 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake crust in preheated oven until edges are golden, 11-12 minutes, turning pan back-to-front once about halfway through baking pan. Remove to cooling rack. Immediately place small spoonfuls of the raspberry jam all over the bottom of the crust. Spread as evenly as possible, stopping about 1/2" away from all edges. Sprinkle the miniature chips over the jam as evenly as possible, again stopping about 1/2" away from all edges. Without waiting, place the almond filling by small spoonfuls all over the crust, beginning at the edges and working your way into the middle. When the filling is all spooned out, gently spread it as evenly as possible, all the way to the edges of the pan.

Return the pan to the oven. Bake for 22-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center of the almond filling just comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool completely on a rack before glazing.

For Glaze:
In small heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolates and salt. Set over hot water on low heat; whisk frequently just until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and hot water. Add corn syrup and whisk in; mixture will thicken. One at a time, add softened butter chunks, stirring well with whisk after each addition until incorporated. Now, add hot water, a teaspoon at a time, until mixture achieves a thick glaze consistency.

Pour glaze onto top of cooled almond filling; spread evenly (an offset spatula is a big help here). Chill until set. To cut, use a large, sharp, heavy knife (a straight edge works best for me here). To keep cuts neat, rinse knife blade under warm water and dry well after every second cut or so. Make these small; they are rich. Store airtight in refrigerator for up to eight days, with wax paper between layers and paper towelling over top layer. Serve in candy or muffin cups, if desired.

Variations:
Substitute red food coloring for the green. Substitute apricot jam for the raspberry. If you do this, you must put the apricot jam through a sieve before measuring it, as any pieces of fruit in the jam might make cutting the pastries difficult.

 

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Copyright © 1998 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.

Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror" or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You may: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your computer for your own personal use only; and reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.

 

This page created December 1998

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