For the chocolate lover cookies and tarts

September 25, 1994|By Mary Goodbody and Brooke Dojny | Mary Goodbody and Brooke Dojny,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

We understand that for many, a day without chocolate is incomplete; for others, a chocolate dessert is an occasional indulgence to be anticipated excitedly and savored slowly.

The two recipes that follow are intended for chocolate lovers of all kinds. They capture chocolate at its very best, serving as a celebration of one of the most well-loved foods. After all, chocolate stands in a class by itself and as such deserves unabashed admiration.

When the Spanish explorer Cortez first tasted the bitter drink called "chocolatl" offered him by the Aztec emperor Montezuma, he knew he had stumbled onto something extraordinary.

After Cortez introduced chocolate to the Spanish court, clever culinarians added sugar, thus initiating a love affair between

Europeans and chocolate that still flourishes.

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 18 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips, or 9 ounces (1 1/2 cups) semisweet mini chips

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

Place butter and both sugars in large bowl. Using electric mixer set at high, cream mixture until smooth and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Reduce mixer speed to medium and beat flour mixture into butter mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

(Whether you use regular-size or mini chocolate chips, these cookies will be immediately recognizable as just about the best incarnation imaginable of the all-American favorite. Mini chips make the cookies a little more chocolatey, while the regular-size chips remain more defined when baked.)

Make cookies by dropping about 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees until cookies are browned around edges, 9 to 11 minutes. Set baking sheets on wire racks to cool 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container up to 3 days.

Chocolate-Raspberry Tarts With Nut Crust

Makes 4 servings


1/4 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

2 to 3 tablespoons ice water


5 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 pint raspberries

2 tablespoons raspberry or red currant jelly

1 tablespoon raspberry brandy (framboise) or water

To prepare crust, process almonds and 2 tablespoons flour in food processor until finely ground. Be careful nuts do not turn to paste. Add remaining flour, sugar and salt and process until blended. Add butter and process by pulsing on and off until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk egg yolk with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pour egg mixture through feed tube with motor running and process until dough begins to gather into ball. Add remaining 1 tablespoon water only if dough is too dry to form into cohesive mass. Scrape dough from work bowl. Shape it into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand about 10 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Press dough into four (4- to 4 1/2 -inch) mini-tart pans (preferably with removable bottoms), using fingers and heel of hand. Crust will be about 1/4 inch thick. Freeze at least 15 minutes, or until ready to bake (freezing relaxes gluten in flour and reduces shrinking during baking).

Bake tart shells at 400 degrees in lower third of oven until they start to brown, about 12 minutes. If shells puff up during baking, use your hand to flatten them. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until pastry turns golden brown, 15 minutes longer. Set tart shells on wire racks to cool. Remove tart shells from pan.

To prepare filling:

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering (not boiling) water, stirring until smooth. (Or microwave chocolate in microwave-safe container, uncovered, on medium -- percent power -- 2 to 4 minutes, stirring once, until chocolate is shiny. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth and melted.)

Divide melted chocolate evenly among cooled tart shells, spreading evenly over bottom of each. Let chocolate set about 15 minutes. Arrange raspberries in shells so that they cover chocolate completely. Refrigerate tarts until chocolate is completely set, about 20 minutes.

Combine jelly and brandy in small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until jelly melts and mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Gently brush raspberries with glaze. Serve immediately or keep at room temperature up to 8 hours.

Note: Dough can be made ahead of time and frozen up to 1 month if well wrapped in plastic wrap, then covered with foil.

If you prefer, make a large tart, using a 9-inch tart pan, rather than 4 individual tartlets.

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