Sunday, November 27, 2011

Peanut Butter Birthday Tart

Behold, Jeff's birthday tart!

This post is rather late because I got caught up with work and Thanksgiving. Que sera sera.

This is a recipe that I've been working on since his last birthday. Last year, I made the peanut butter pie pictured in this post, from my Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook. As I mentioned in the post, I liked it, but it wasn't perfect. I thought peanut butter filling with a peanuty crust was overkill and, while the Hershey's kisses were pretty, the chocolatey flavor was not well-integrated into the rest of the pie. Jeff and I both loved the concept, but I was sure I could do it better.

As I made other peanut buttery things over the year, I kept this tart in mind, thinking about how I might alter it. These peanut butter cup bars from Brown Eyed Baker were pretty awesome. I thought that a layer of ganache like this could go well on my pie, but while the filling, blended with graham cracker crumbs, mimicked a peanut butter cup perfectly, it was a little heavy for a pie portion.

With that in mind, I decided to make this peanut butter cup tart from Confections of a Foodie Bride for a late summer party. It had a nice layer of ganache, a creamier peanut butter cream and a chocolate crust - all the elements of a perfect peanut butter tart, in my estimation. The ganache was perfect, the peanut butter cream good (although I thought my original recipe was better), but the crust, made from chocolate cookie crumbs, did not meet expectations, as it crumbled into nothingness when the tart was sliced. It was a bit of a mess, really. While everyone thought it was delicious, I still felt I could do better.

So when Jeff's 30th birthday rolled around earlier this month, I decided to put together my own version of the peanut butter tart. I would combine the chocolate ganache, peanut butter cream and a more substantial chocolatey crust. It would be the perfect storm of peanut butter tarts. I chose the chocolate short dough recipe from The Secrets of Baking, the peanut butter cream from the Bride and Groom cookbook, and the ganache from the Foodie Bride tart (although, at the last minute, I thought it would be a bit too rich, so I went with some whipped cream instead).

The result? Excellent. The crust had just enough heft to balance out the lightness of the peanut butter cream. I missed the ganache a bit, but for a tart that the two of us would have to finish in a few days, the lighter whipped cream was a better option. If I were to make this again for a group, for which smaller slices would be preferable, I would totally go for it. And since this is definitely going into my repertoire of bring-to-a-party recipes, I'm sure that day will come soon!

Peanut Butter Tart
Chocolate short dough:
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 c butter, softened but still cool
1/2 c powdered sugar

Peanut butter cream:
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c smooth peanut butter

Whipped cream:
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp cornstarch (I like a little cornstarch to stabilize my whipped cream, but adding too much will affect the mouthfeel)
1 tsp sugar (most recipes prefer powdered sugar, but I usually use granulated. Since I only lightly sweeten my cream, it is not hard to get the granulated sugar to incorporate)

Chocolate short dough:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until lightly creamed. Scrape down the bowl, add the sugar and mix for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl again.

Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together (about 30 seconds).

Remove the dough and pat it into a disc shape. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. (I am not sure I like this method - I refrigerated mine overnight and it was hard as a rock - I had to over-warm it to get it soft enough to roll out. Next time I might shorten the refrigeration period.) Lightly flour your work surface, then roll the dough into a 12" circle. Lay the dough onto a 10" tart pan, press into the crevices, and cut off the excess.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Prick the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork. Line the tart with parchment paper (crumpling the parchment paper first helps it to lie flat)and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake 15-18 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment and bake another 6-8 minutes. Cool completely.

Peanut butter cream:
In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

In another bowl, combine the peanut butter with about half of the whipped cream mixture. Fold together with a rubber spatula until well combined (the peanut butter will want to stay lumpy, but keep stirring and spreading it with the spatula and it'll get there)

Then add this mixture to the remaining cream and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and spread evenly.

Whipped cream:
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine cream, sugar and cornstarch. Whip until stiff peaks form. Spread cream on top of peanut butter filling.

Enjoy right away or refrigerate until serving!

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