We just hosted our 23rd annual New Year's Day Brunch. Joined by good friends and family, we celebrated the first day of the New Year with food, champagne and very cold temperatures.
The menu consisted of (I'll start with dessert; always my favorite course) little, individual graham cracker tart shells filled with a rich chocolate ganache and topped with giant, torched homemade marshmallows. It's become somewhat of a tradition that I make a dessert that I can torch!
I just loved these tarts and the good news is, you do not have to make your own marshmallows, as I did. You can use purchased, grocery store marshmallows. But what I found, long after brunch was over and all of the dishes had been washed and put away, and I pulled another little tart from the refrigerator as a bedtime snack -- it was extremely good without the marshmallow on top! You could easily serve this dessert unadorned as individual tarts, or easier yet, one large tart (a small shard of gold leaf would be beautiful... or a sprinkling of fleur de sel, maybe a drizzle of caramel; just make sure you use really good chocolate - it's key).
adapted from Deep Dark Chocolate by Sara Perry
• 1 1/3 cups non-trans fat graham cracker crumbs
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 5 ounces premium dark chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut)
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• Pinch of salt (I used fleur de sel, and I used more than a large pinch, but I love it when used with chocolate)
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• large, fresh homemade or purchased marshmallows (link to recipe below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until well blended and crumbly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch tart pan and lightly press onto the bottom of the pan; or use 10 individual, small tart pans as I did, approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Bake until set and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
2. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted (I did this in a microwave); stir to combine and pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for several minutes, then stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the salt and vanilla and let cool completely. Pour into the crust and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 4 hours.
3. Right before serving, top with a homemade or purchased marshmallows and brown with a butane torch. Serve while the marshmallows are still warm.
Make your own Marshmallows
(just delete peppermint candy from the recipe)
Blueberry scones, to nibble on while sipping Blueberry-Champagne Spritzers.
I feel as though I took the easy way out this time, making a Sherried Creamed Chicken Almondine (served on purchased Pepperidge Farm Puffed Pastry Shells) that I have made many times before and usually serve on mashed potatoes. It's delicious, my family is crazy about it, it's easy (even if you quadruple the recipe) and it's perfect comfort food, something everyone at the table was hungry for.
The best part, however, is just getting together with the same friends that have joined us for this annual event the past 23 years.
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