Chocolate Mousse Tarts

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without dessert!  Terry John Zila amps up a regular old pie with this recipe for Chocolate Mousse Tarts.

Standard Tart Dough


13 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream ¼ teaspoon salt

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the butter sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until malleable.
  2. Place the powdered sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large free-standing bowl.
  3. Add the pieces of butter and toss to coat. Using a paddle attachment with a standing mixer, combine the sugar and butter at medium speed, until the sugar is no longer visible.
  4. Add the egg yolk and combine until no longer visible. Scrape down the butter off the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add half of the flour, then begin mixing again until the dough is crumbly. Add the remaining flour and then the cream and mix until the dough forms a somewhat sticky mass.
  6. Flatten the dough into a thick pancake, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours before preparing to roll out the dough. Lightly butter a 9-inch pastry ring or fluted tart pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick Silpat pad.
  7. Once the dough has thoroughly chilled, cut it in half, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat, until you have 16 equal pieces.
  8. Sprinkle your work surface with a thin layer of flour. Knead the pieces of dough together until it forms one new mass and shape it into a flattened ball. Flour a rolling pin and sprinkle flour again on the work surface underneath the dough.
  9. Roll out the dough into a circle one-eighth-inch thick. Dock the dough with a pastry docker or prick the dough all over with a fork.
  10. Transfer the dough into the ring or tart pan by rolling about a third of it around your rolling pin, lifting it and placing it into the ring. Gently pat the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the ring. Trim the edges so that they are flush with the top. Put the baking sheet with the ring into the freezer for one hour.
  11. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before filling.

Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse

Makes 6 portions


10 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in ¼ cup hot water

8 egg yolks

¼ cup sugar (1.75 ounces)

¼ cup Kahlua, crème de cacao or spirit of your choice

1 tablespoon vanilla

8 pasteurized egg whites

Pinch salt

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1. In the top of a double boiler, or in the microwave, melt the chocolate and dissolved

espresso until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth. 

Blend in Kahlua and vanilla. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric standing mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg

yolks and sugar until blended. Over the double boiler base with water at a gentle

simmer, place the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar and whisk until the mixture

becomes heated to the touch. You will be able to see the structural change in the

mixture as it heats.

3. Immediately remove the bowl from the heat and place in the stand mixer and whisk on

medium high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume, about 10 minutes.

4. In a separate standing mixer bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the salt and cream

of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form, but egg whites are not dry.

5. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture until blended with few, if any

streaks remain.

6. Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate-yolk mixture to lighten. It is not

necessary to incorporate the whites completely at this point. Fold in remaining egg

whites with as few strokes as possible. 

7. Pour into a glass bowl and refrigerate for one hour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap

and chill overnight.

8. To serve, spoon into bowls and garnish with lightly sweetened whipped cream and

    chocolate shavings.

Italian Meringue


½ cup water

2 cups plus ¼ cup sugar (separated)

8 egg whites

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch salt

1.   In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the water and 2 cups of the sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.

2.   Heat the sugar/water mixture, without stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. While the mixture heats, brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water to prevent the formation of sugar crystals.

3.   Clip on a candy thermometer and bring to a boil. Bring the syrup to the firm-ball stage (248 degrees on the candy thermometer).

4.   While sugar syrup is cooking, place egg whites with the pinch salt in a clean, grease-free bowl of a standing mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.

5.   Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and whip until stiff, but not dry,    

      peaks form.

6.   With the mixer running, slowly pour firm ball stage syrup into egg white mixture and continue whipping until mixture is cool, about 15 minutes.

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