tartelettes with white chocolate cream & berries

happy independence day everyone in the us! i’ve been wearing stars and stripes today accidentally – so i was sort of in a celebratory mood all day, too. although actually this is the second week in a row (or the second week post holidays…) that i’ve been drowned in work. drowned! yesterday, out of 10 hours of work, i sat in meetings for 8 straight hours. okay, i realise that doesn’t really say anything about the quality of work… or maybe it does, namely that others work while i meet? of course now i’m the bad person. grand. just insert any random (swiss german, because when i’m upset i can never think straight) swearwords here – and swissgerman is really grand for swearing, let me tell you. like how is ‘huere dammi siech’ for a start? it means… well it doesn’t really mean a lot? to be honest? if i had to translate it, it might mean something like ‘fucking damned twat’. isn’t it delicious? then there’s ‘gopferdammi’, of course; something along the line of ‘god damnit’, only sweeter. and ‘heilige strohsack’ – which fabulously translates to ‘holy straw bag’. okay, thorough swearing done and all, i feel so much better already! my mood has lifted significantly. it’s like some proper retail therapy – only better.

all swearing aside (i still guarantee my lady-manners are intact and on full effect – but only if i want to *stickingoutmytongue*), i am also willing to admit that the lunch break yoga lesson might have added a little to the zen spirit. we were told today that we have to leave our egos outside, and really come to the middle. that yoga isn’t a competitive sports, but rather a personal challenge. admittedly, sometimes this whole ‘we’re sitting on our bums and making circles with our shoulders for 200 minutes’ can be a tad annoying. oh, i love it alright, wouldn’t i get seasick all the time. the thing is: if you ever get past the seasickness, then you might actually come to the point where you’re really chilled and zen and at peace with all the ‘holzöpfel’ (‘wood apple’ – meaning ‘stubborn jerks’) that surround you. and you might even come to terms with your own ego. which is, hands down, the best part about yoga. that, for five minutes in which you’re not seasick or sore or downright hate the posture your in, you start to like yourself and accept that you’re just bloody, and awesomely so, imperfect.

tartelettes with white chocolate whipped cream & berries
recipe for shortcrust (pâte sucrée adapted from bouchon bakery)

ingredients for the shortcrust shells: 
425 g flour*
46 g + 94 g powdered sugar
225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
56 g eggs

100 g dark chocolate, for lining the shells
3 tbsp. butter

ingredients for the filling: 
1/5 liter cream, whipped
100 g white chocolate
1 tbsp. grand marnier
20 g vanilla sugar
2 tbsp. whipped cream stabilizer
750 g mixed berries (i used strawberries, raspberries and red currants)

place the flour(s) in a medium bowl. sift the 46 grams powdered sugar into the bowl. place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium-low speed, until the butter is the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted. sift in the remaining 94 grams powdered sugar and pulse to begin incorporating, then increase the speed to medium-low and mix for about 1 minute, until the mixture is fluffy. scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute the seeds evenly.

add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined. scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there. add the eggs and mix on low speed until just combined, 15 to 30 seconds.

transfer the dough to the work surface. use the heel of your hand to smear the dough and work it together again (the process is called fraiser). divide the dough in half and form each half into a 4-by-6 inch rectangle, about 3/4 inch thick. wrap each piece in a double layer of plastic wrap. refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, but preferably overnight. the dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

unwrap the dough and place it between two large pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. roll out the dough in the parchment, from the center outward. with a cutter, cut out circles a little bigger than the ones of your pans. place the dough in the pans, then trim off the excess dough. freeze the pans with the dough for about 30 minutes or up to an hour.

preheat the oven to 180 degrees c / 325 f. cover each ‘shell’ with a circle of parchment paper, then cover with blind baking rice, beans or pearls (keller advices to use rice as it covers the shells more evenly). bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the dough is set and no longer sticks to the parchment paper. remove the parchment paper and rice or beans (you can store the rice or beans for future blind baking use), then return the pans to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through and golden brown. set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.

not recommended but by bouchon bakery – but by moi: cover the shells with a little dark chocolate at the bottom to prevent them from getting soaked and mushy. plus: it looks really professional that way. melt the dark chocolate slowly, adding the butter. with a brush, smear some of the chocolate onto the bottom of each shell. place in the freezer.

phewwww…. well done, you! now on the fun part: the filling! let’s be creative, for example, how about a smores filling…? some fluffy fluff marshmallow cream, topped with bananas and chocolate drops, for example…? or let’s stick to the berries. they look good and no one can ever pass a berry tart down.

filling the tarts:
melt the white chocolate very slowly in the bain marie. in the meantime, whip the cream, add vanilla sugar and whipped cream stabilizer. when the white chocolate is melted, let it cool a bit first, then pour it into the whipped cream. stir to combine, quickly. place in the fridge until firm. place a generous dollop of the white chocolate whipped cream onto each shell, then decorate with the berries. dust with a little confectioner’s sugar, if you like. serve freshly assembled.

* thomas keller from the bouchon bakery recommends using partly flour, partly almond flour (375 g all-purpose flour, 47 g almond flour). he says that the nut flours or meals add texture and delicious flavor to pastries. since almond flour is not that easy to find around here, i simply used normal all-purpose flour. turned out more than fine! yum.

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