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In which I (malted) tart it up real nice.

My mother truly loves malted chocolate milk, so I've intended to make the malted chocolate tarts included in the Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking since the day it arrived. The book actually opened to that recipe automatically, and I said, "Well, what do we have here?" and the book said, "Malted chocolate tarts, dummy. Can't you read?" There are many things in life I haven't done. I've never spied on the U.S. government for the Russians. I've never worn a blouse featuring a big bow around the neck. I've never driven a white Camaro. (I might be finishing season 4 of The Americans while I write this.) I've also never made a tart. I've made many a pie, using both traditional pie pastry and various pat and crumble crusts, but we all know that presentation isn't my strong suit. I'm not a details person. I don't "iron my clothes" or "check the front of my shirt for stray pieces of candy" or "remember to brush my hair." Tarts really do involve quite a bit of work on presentation, from the usually thin, crispy, perfectly formed and trimmed crust to the fillings to the toppings. The following are a few crazy-detailed tarts bakers on the Great British Bake Off have made in the last few years. I know it's hard to believe that I didn't make them--they're so me.

And here are the malted chocolate tarts that I wanted to make (with the pastry I did make):

Aren't they adorbs? They seemed simple enough and required relatively little in the way of decoration, and thank goodness for that, as I was fresh out of edible flowers. (It's the shame nobody talks about, the out-of-edible-flowers shame. It's on par with public diarrhea or causing a lice outbreak at school or having one's underwear fall out of one's pant leg on the way back to the dorm from an early final exam in college, not that I know anything about that.)

First, I had to find "bun tin." Say what, now? I had no idea what a bun tin was, although, obviously, it had to result in small, smooth, fairly shallow tarts. Through much research on Amazon and British baking supply companies, I discovered that bun tins are what American might call mince pie trays. I bought one on Amazon: mince pie tray.

The tarts are wee! But I was impressed with the pan--heavy-duty, non-stick without being too dark (which I hate in a pan, as it often ends up in too-dark results).

First, we make the chocolate pastry, which was super easy; it's a simple concoction of butter, egg yolk, cocoa, flour, and confectioner's sugar. At the time, I hadn't pulled out the food processor, so I cut the butter in the regular way, with a pastry blender, which made me feel a bit like a pioneer in a covered wagon, but in the good way, not in the less pleasant but still notable I-have-dysentery way.

The resulting dough is very soft, though, because of the butter, so it has to be refrigerated before it's rolled out and cut into pastry shells. The recipe suggests rolling it out between two layers of cling film so as to avoid getting flour on it, which would mar the perfectly chocolate-y appearance, so that is what I did, in spite of my deep distrust for and hatred of cling film.

You're not wrong--I DO have a problem rolling out doughs into circles. Pastry circles are my white whales. Then I cut out the pastry shells, although I switched from a larger cutter to the next smaller one, as there's no real place for extra edges to go when using a pan like this. The dough was easy to work with because of the butter because it didn't stick to anything but difficult to use because it was so soft.

The directions said that the dough should be fairly thick, which is different than most pastry shell dough, as it should typically be thin and crispy. However, as I always do, I followed the directions perfectly.

When tartlets are made in these tins, I have to think that they're meant to look a bit more rustic than when they're made in individual tins. It isn't really possible to trim them properly when they're all in the same pan. So, I think they're actually pretty when imperfect. You fancy people might disagree with me, but you shouldn't trouble yourselves with my tarts, anyway. Don't you have caviar to throw away somewhere before you go out to buy another white sofa?

Like me when I've been eating too many peppermint candies, tart shells tend to get puffy if they're not weighted down while they bake before being filled. To combat the puffiness, you have to cover them with wax paper or parchment paper and then fill them with something heavy, like dry beans or rice or ceramic beads.

They blind bake for around 10 minutes, and then you take them out of the oven to take off the paper and rice.

Then, they go back in the oven to finish baking and to finish drying out.

The shells have to be removed from the pan to cool completely, and, in the meantime, it's time to make the glorious filling. I mean, I don't like chocolate, but, if I did, the filling would be glorious! (With only a few exceptions, chocolate tastes super bitter to me. I prefer vanilla. I'm a proud vanilla girl.) Even I can appreciate the beauty of these pictures, however:

With the heavy cream added:

I used a big Hershey bar for the milk chocolate because, say what you will, but it has a super smooth texture and a taste we're all familiar with. I used a Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar because it, also, has a smooth texture and is readily available at our local Wal-Mart. (I keep it realz, yo.)

Because I'm a little bit lazy, I microwaved the chocolate and cream together to melt the chocolate, which is actually (I've discovered since) a perfectly acceptable way to melt chocolate, even for candy. What I did wrong was use a whisk to mix them together after the chocolate was melted--it aerates the chocolate and creates tiny bubbles. It's not a big deal and, of course, doesn't affect the taste, but tart filling is generally supposed to be super smooth-looking.

I then whisked in the malted milk powder and filled the little shells.

Oops. I over-filled. (That's what he said.)

And then, it was time to make the malted whipped cream (heavy whipping cream, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and malted milk powder), and O.M.G.--malted whipped cream is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. You should buy a container of malted milk powder IMMEDIATELY and mix it into some whipped cream. Holy Moses. It's the whipped cream equivalent of having a professional blow out. Yeah. It's that good.

And they were done!

Those are obviously real flowers. I couldn't make sugar flowers while making tartlets and feeding the dogs. I'm not God. And so ends the story of my first tart-making experience. My mom's friend said it was one of the best foods she's ever eaten, and my mom thought they were delicious, as well. I really cannot say enough about this recipe and the cookbook; it consistently offers excellent recipes that seem a little complicated but that are actually fairly easy. Were my tartlets above reproach? No, they weren't. But were they made by someone whose character is above reproach? Obviously. Snort.

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