Who grew up thinking they “didn’t like” coconut? *raises hand* I definitely spent my childhood being repelled by this tropical treasure, an aversion based on exactly zero real-world evidence, perhaps even zero contact. I don’t know at what point the tide turned, at what point it occurred to me to actually try coconut… And I don’t know that it was even a deliberate test of my childhood hypothesis. I recall making a batch of coconut cupcakes circa 2007 that both sparked my cupcake obsession of that era and put to rest any notion of disliking coconut; as an adult I became smitten, and now I look for opportunities to bake with coconut as much as possible.
Which brings me to the present. Here I am, going rogue again. Baked Sunday Mornings is making a recipe called Baked Brown Cow from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking this week, which is something like a boozy ice cream sundae. And while I’m sure it’s perfectly delicious, it didn’t grab me, so I took this as an opportunity to dive back into Baked Explorations and make a recipe that I missed from the wayback machine before I had joined BSM. I settled on the Almond Joy Tart because why wouldn’t I? The recipe makes a half dozen mini tartlets consisting of an almond shortbread crust, coconut-white chocolate ganache filling, chocolate ganache topping, and a single almond on top. The tart is an homage to the Almond Joy candy bar, which I definitely never ate as a kid, but which maybe I’ve had at some point since then. I decided to make an “updated” version with a few minor changes: I made one larger tart (still had enough dough and filling for two additional small ones), used my square Valrhona tart molds for a modern look, and garnished the tarts with chopped toasted almonds around the edges instead of a few whole ones.
This tart dough is so very lovely. You start by grinding whole almonds with sugar, then add flour and salt, then cold butter to make a sandy mixture, and finally a beaten egg to bring it together. It is smooth and supple and easy to handle, and I plan to squirrel it away for use in other recipes. I chilled the dough overnight, and it rolled out without incident, though it is quite sticky and needs a lot of flouring. I used square tart molds and had enough dough for an 8″ and two 3″ little ones… and a little extra that may have been eaten as a snackie. 😉 I have a tendency to form my tart crusts a little too thick, so I was careful to make it thin enough, and the crusts baked up just gorgeous with a golden hue after chilling for 30 minutes in the freezer, blind-baking for 15 minutes, then baking unweighted for 10 minutes, plus a few extra to get a little more color.
The white chocolate ganache was also wicked easy, as there’s not much to making ganache. You pour hot cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk. What I was concerned about here is that my mixture was suuuuper thin– I thought for sure I had under-weighed the white chocolate or over-poured the heavy cream. It didn’t have the texture of a ganache at all at first– like, it literally dripped like milk off my whisk. I stuck it in the fridge and hoped that it would thicken a lot… It didn’t. However, I needn’t have worried, as it whipped up beautifully just like it was supposed to, then I folded in the shredded coconut to make the thick filling, which is supposed to mirror the candy bar filling. At first the coconut bits were stiff and chewy, but they softened by the time I was actually eating the tart. There was a lot left over, as I made sure to leave plenty of room in the tart shells for a thick layer of chocolate.
Using a mixture of dark and milk chocolate, the ganache for the topping was equally easy. It was quite pourable, which made for a perfectly smooth and level surface. After 10 minutes in the fridge, I applied the toasted chopped almonds around the edges and let the tarts firm up for another 30 minutes.
OH. EM. GEE. This was one of the best things I’ve made in a long time, y’all. I can’t necessarily compare it to the Almond Joy candy bar, but in its own right, it is such a lovely combination of chocolate, coconut, and almond– there is literally nothing I would change about it. Even though it’s supposed to represent a piece of candy, it’s actually a really elegant dessert.
You can find the recipe for Almond Joy Tart at Baked Sunday Mornings, and please take a look at this week’s Baked Brown Cows from the other bakers too! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018.
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