Truffle Tartlets

If it’s chocolate you’re craving, it’s chocolate we’ve got. And lucky for you, it’s perfectly protected in a tartlet shell: no melty chocolate fingers. This impossibly smooth truffle filling is so easy to make, you’ll have to keep the smiles to yourself when your friends and family ooh and ahh over it. But there is a catch. The chocolate matters, and it matter a lot. No Nestlé Toll House Morsels or store-brand chocolate, please. No imitation chocolate or chocolate flavored candy (dipping chocolate) either. Only the best will do, and around here, the best is Guittard. You can use either semi-sweet chips or the semi-sweet baking wafers. For this recipe, we recommend the baking wafers.

The truffle filling practically makes itself, but the tartlet shells are another matter altogether. As a pastry, these shells can suffer quite quickly from over mixing and over working. They can also suffer from salty pockets in the dough if the salt isn’t ground superfine or further pulverized into a powder in a mortar and pestle. Because the tartlets are so small, shortening is the preferred fat, rather than butter, and of course, ice cold water, barely any of it, bind everything together. Like all pastry, the texture is improved with a short stay in the fridge.

Rolling the pastry to an even thickness is vitally important for these tartlets. For these shells, we’ll be rolling the pastry to an 1/8-inch thick. A bakers pin with 1/8-inch rolling guides works the best here. The guides, fitted on the pin, rather than attached to the flat work surface, allow you to roll the dough in any direction without worrying about rolling a thin spot or beveling an edge.

As cliché-ish as it sounds: size matters. These will be 2-inch tartlets, nothing larger. Anything bigger and—yes it seems impossible—it’s just too much chocolate to eat at once. Remember, this is truffle filling, not mousse or chocolate cream. And the last thing you want is someone setting down a half-eaten truffle. We’ll be cutting 3-inch pastry circles to press into the tartlet pans. To facilitate an easier transfer from the cutting surface to the tartlet pan, roll the pastry on plastic wrap rather than directly on the hard surface.

Docking or pricking the pastry will help keep it from puffing up or shrinking when it’s baked. But there’s no need to spray or grease the tartlet pans, even if they aren’t non-stick. The pastry falls out of the pan without effort. The shells should be completely cooled before the truffle filling is piped in to keep the chocolate from melting.

These tartlets can be served at room temperature for the best flavor and texture, or they can be refrigerated for a few hours for a slightly firmer consistency.

Truffle Tartlets

Tartlet Shells

  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon very finely ground or pulverized kosher salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 4-5 teaspoons ice cold water 

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with a fork. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the water, a couple teaspoons at a time and stir with a fork until the dough just comes together. Using your hands, form the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Truffle Filling

  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking wafers or chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon orange liqueur (optional) 

Melt the chocolate, cream and butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over low heat until the chocolate is smooth. Stir in the orange liqueur off heat if using. Refrigerate chocolate mixture until it is peanut butter consistency, about 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 375°F. While the chocolate mixture is cooling, roll the pastry dough to an 1/8-inch thick and cut 3-inch circles from dough, rerolling the scraps. Press into the bottom and up the sides of 2-inch tartlet pans. Place the pans in a jelly roll pan for ease when baking. Bake the shells for 12-15 minutes or until they are lightly golden brown. Overbaking is better than underbaking for these shells. The filling will fill 18 tartlet shells. You may need to make a second batch of tartlet shells to use it all.

Remove them from the oven and place the tartlet pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove the shells from the pans after that, placing them on the cooling rack to cool completely.

Using a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, fill the bag with the truffle mixture and pipe into each shell.