Tags: baking, bundt, cake, dessert
It’s almost Valentine’s Day. A perfect excuse to make something sweet and pink, not that I really need one. I never need an excuse to make a Bundt either– I just love them! This Cranberry Crème Fraîche Bundt Cake seemed like just the right treat to make this year. I know that cranberry season is gone, but if you’re like me, you bought a couple of extra bags during the holidays and threw them in the freezer. When there’s not a lot of good fruit around, this comes in handy.
This cake uses a lush ingredient–crème fraîche. You can make your own, but I just buy it. It’s pretty easy to find now, even at TJ’s. The crème fraîche gives the cake great structure and texture. It also helps make it a great keeper. The pockets and swirls of tasty cranberry sauce inside the cake ensure that each slice just as pretty as the uncut Bundt. I liked the little bit of almond flavoring in the cake as well, but I’m sure it would be great without if you don’t have the extract or you avoid nuts.
Happy Valentine’s Day! xoxo
Don’t want cake, try coeur à la crème.
Cranberry Crème Fraîche- makes 10 to 12 servings
adapted from Cake Simple: Recipes for Bundt-Style Cakes from Classic Dark Chocolate to Luscious Lemon-Basil by Christie Matheson
Steph’s Note: I buy my crème fraîche at the grocery store, but you can certainly make your own. To do this, you’ll want to start at least a day before making this cake, and you’ll need 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Combine the heavy cream with the buttermilk, cover tightly, and let sit at room temperature (in a warm room) for at least 8 hours. Stir the mixture– if it hasn’t thickened completely, cover the mixture again and let it sit in a warm place for another 2 to 3 hours and check it again. When it has a nice, thick consistency, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus melted butter for greasing the pan
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup (240 ml) crème fraîche
Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce (recipe follows) or 2 cups (450 g) canned whole berry-cranberry sauce
Cranberry Glaze (recipe follows)
1/2 cup (45 g) chopped toasted almonds or toasted almond slivers
-Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/gas 4). Brush the inside of a 10-cup (2.4 L) Bundt pan with the melted butter and dust it lightly with flour and tap out the excess.
-Whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
-With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three increments) alternately with the crème fraîche (in two increments), beginning and ending with the flour and beating after each addition until just combined.
-Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Swirl half the cranberry sauce over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the cranberry sauce, and then swirl the remaining cranberry sauce over the batter. I tried my best to more or less keep the sauce from touching the sides of the pan and tube, just so there wouldn’t be any sticking. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out free of wet batter.
-Swiftly rap the pan on the counter once or twice right after pulling it from the oven…this will help the cake settle and release. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and let it cool completely. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Sprinkle the almonds over the top. The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Whole Berry-Cranberry Sauce (you can use 2 cups of a nice, canned whole cranberry sauce instead if you’d like)
12 ounces (340 g) fresh cranberries
3/4 cup (180 ml) water
3/4-1 cup (150-200 g) granulated sugar, depending on sweetness preference
1/4 teaspoon salt
-In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries with the water, sugar, and salt and cook for about 15 minutes (after about 10 minutes, remove about 2 tablespoons of the liquid for the cranberry glaze), or until the sauce has thickened and most of the liquid has reduced. Let the sauce cool completely before using it in the cake (you will need about 2 cups of sauce for the cake, so you may have a bit extra). The sauce keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
1 cup (93 g) confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons cranberry juice (reserved from making the cranberry sauce)
-Mix the confectioners’ sugar and 1-2 tablespoons cranberry juice (depending on your desired thickness) in a small bowl until smooth.
Tags: baking, cupcakes, dessert
I needed a little weekend baking project to help take my mind off the Frankenstorm that’s coming our way. Spooky. It’s time for Halloween cupcakes anyway…I make them every year, mostly to use my orange and black sprinkles. I think devil’s food is appropriate for Halloween, and it helps that it’s my favorite species of chocolate cake. I have a particular fondness for oil-based devil’s food like this one from Zoë Bakes. So moist, oh my gosh. And isn’t cream cheese frosting good on just about any cake? Looking forward to eating one of these from the fridge tonight.
Happy Halloween, and stay safe (and dry)!
Devil’s Food Cupcakes- makes 3 dozen
from Zoë Bakes
Steph’s Note: I made one-third of the cupcake recipe below to get one dozen cupcakes, but I still used the full amount of frosting.
3 cups granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed), sifted if lumpy.
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup hot coffee
1/4 cup rum or brandy (or replace with extra coffee)
-Heat the oven to 350°F and prepare 3 dozen muffin tins with papers
-Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk until combined, set aside.
-Whisk together, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the hot coffee and rum to the batter and whisk until totally blended and smooth, about 2 minutes. The batter will be quite runny.
-Fill a measuring cup or pitcher (you can fill directly from the mixing bowl if you have a steady hand) with the batter and then fill the muffin cups about 2/3 – 3/4 full.
-Bake the cupcakes for about 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
-Allow to cool completely on a cake rack, removing the cupcakes from the tin after about 15 minutes, and then frost with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
from Zoë Bakes
Steph’s Note: I used the full amount of frosting to decorate 12 cupcakes.
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon golden syrup (can substitute with honey)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
-Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and cream together until smooth. (I used a hand mixer for this.)
Tags: cake, dessert, ice cream
Why must bikini season and ice cream season be one and the same?
It was my husband’s birthday last weekend. Like a good, caring wife, I made him an unbaked cake using all prepared ingredients. Sounds kind of mean when I put it that way, but it started when an unopened box of Girl Scout Cookies from God know when (they don’t expire, right??) was found in the cupboard, and he requested an ice cream cake with a Thin Mints crust. That sounded pretty simple compared to some past requests, so I was happy to oblige. I used a nice (but store-bought) chocolate gelato, and redeemed myself a bit by stirring together a little ganache for the top. Colored sprinkles, a candle and a secret wish made it a birthday cake.
Steph’s Notes: I made a half recipe in a 6-inch springform, using one sleeve of Thin Mints (minus two cookies), 1 tbsp of butter and one pint of ice cream.
1 box Thin Mints cookies (should you want to set 4 or five cookies aside for snacks or decoration, that’s fine)
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 pints of ice cream
stuff to decorate!
-Line the base of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan with a circle of greased parchment.
-In a food processor, blitz the cookies and melted butter until mixture is coarse crumbs. Firmly press cookie crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. You can give it a little lip, or leave it flat. Pop in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
-Slightly soften your ice cream on the counter for several minutes. Using a scoop, evenly distribute the ice cream around the crust and then smooth it all out with a small offset spatula.
-Freeze your cake for at least a few hours or overnight, until well-set. Decorate and pop off the side of the pan (temper it for a few minutes or run a warm offset around the edge if it’s difficult to remove). Slice using a warm knife.
Tags: baking, crisps, dessert, fruit
Cherry season is preciously short, and, where I live, it’s right now. It’s probably nearing the end of the road for them, actually, as all things fruity seem to appearing and disappearing early this summer (due to the 60° winter we had, no doubt). I’m going to the greenmarket tomorrow to find more tart red jewels before they go bye-bye till next year.
I’m deciding these days that I find crisps to be as satisfying as pie, but with a lot less effort. Perhaps that makes them slightly more satisfying? Sounds lazy, but prepping cherries is a labour of love as it is (and usually leads to a t-shirt covered in red speckles) so I’m happy not to also deal with the clean-up involved in making crust. Soft fruit with a crispy topping of oats and brown sugar is hard to beat anyway. I’m also digging this combination of sour cherries and pistachios, but some roughly chopped almonds would be a fine stand-in if you don’t have the pistachios on hand.
Sour Cherry and Pistachio Crisp- serves 8
adapted from marthastewart.com
Steph’s Notes: I made a half recipe in a smaller baking dish. It took less time to bake than the full recipe did, about 35 minutes in total, and I turned the oven down to 325°F for the last 10 minutes to keep my topping from getting too brown.
1 3/4 pounds pitted fresh or frozen sour cherries
1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch (increase to 2 1/2 tsp if you like your filling a little more tight)
pinch of ground cinnamon
-Preheat oven to 375°F. If using frozen cherries, spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature until cherries have thawed almost completely but still hold their shape, about 30 minutes. Drain off any accumulated liquid. If you are using fresh cherries, just stem and pit them and you are good to go.
-Whisk together the pistachios, flour, oats, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put butter, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until creamy…this is not hard to do by hand with a wooden spoon, if you choose. Stir pistachio mixture into butter mixture until just combined. Work mixture through your fingers until it forms coarse crumbs ranging in size from small peas to gum balls. Chill topping in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. You can even make the topping the day before and hold it in the fridge.
-Stir together cherries, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the cornstarch, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Transfer cherry mixture to an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle the chilled topping evenly over cherry mixture. Bake until topping turns golden and juices are bubbling, 50 minutes to 1 hour, turning at the half-way point. If you notice that your topping is browning too quickly, turn the heat down to 325°F for the remainder of the baking time. Let cool on a wire rack 1 hour before serving. A little ice cream on top is a fine idea.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
Wow–I went all last week without a post. Blah. But now it’s time for cake with TWD and Norman Love’s Lemon Loaf. I bought a few Meyer lemons at TJ’s a couple of months ago, and although I was too lazy to use them then, I did manage to zest and juice them and stash that stuff in the freezer for another time….a time like this!
I didn’t have any issues with this recipe. I did do a half recipe (although I think that with the particular pan I used, I actually should have done two-thirds or three-quarters to get taller slices). It’s a pretty easy recipe and it’s made by hand. There were a couple of things I fiddled with here to ensure a moist and lemony cake. I rubbed the lemon zest into the sugar before mixing anything and I added (for a full recipe, the equivalent of) the juice of one lemon into the egg/sugar mixture. I also made a quickie soaking syrup by heating some extra juice and sugar together, and brushed it all over the loaf while it was still hot.
I liked this loaf cake. It had a nice sunny color and a good pound cake-style texture. I think cakes like this are really good with a little bit of fruit sauce or compote. Jam’s fine, too, when I don’t have any berries in the house. After I took this picture, you bet I totally smooshed the jam and cream over the the top and ate it as a open-faced cake sandwich (or maybe cake smørrebrød since I used lingonberry jam)!
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Truc’s blog, Treats and Michelle’s, The Beauty of Life. It’s also on The Splendid Table’s site. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate, dessert, holiday
Apparently I think Saint Patrick’s Day is a good excuse to drench chocolate cake in booze. OK, I would gladly do that any day of the year (as is evidenced by this and that), but last year I marked St. Paddy’s day with whiskey-soaked chocolate and now I’ve moved to stout. Chocolate stout cakes are nothing new, but I am loving the ease of this one. So easy, you can whisk this together while sipping the remainder of your can of Guinness or Murphy’s and be confident you won’t muck it up.
You may notice that this cake is vegan. I’m not, but I can appreciate that the lack of eggs and dairy let the chocolate flavor of this cake shine. The stout and espresso boost that taste and temper the sweetness. There’s so much liquid in this cake that it stays moist and fudgy…improves with time even. Three days later and I think it’s better than the first. I’ll raise a pint to that!
Fudgy Chocolate Stout Cake- makes an 8″ cake
from mrslarkin’s recipe on food52
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
7 tablespoons natural cocoa powder (not dutched)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Guinness or other stout
1/2 cup espresso or strong coffee
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set oven rack to middle. Grease an 8” round cake pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment and lightly spray the parchment.
-Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
-In a measuring cup, mix together stout, coffee, water, vanilla and vinegar. Stir into the flour mixture a few turns, then add your oil and combine until you have a smooth batter (you can use a whisk for this, just be gentle).
-Pour into prepared pan. Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Check with cake tester, which should come out very slightly moist. Remove from oven and let cool on rack.
-Turn out onto cake plate. Peel off the parchment. Dust cake with powdered sugar, or cover with frosting.
*Alternatively, this recipe makes 1 dozen cupcakes. Bake for 18 – 23 minutes. Cool cupcakes. Frost with your favorite frosting or dip tops into a simple icing made of confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder and coffee. Decorate top with a fresh coffee bean while icing is still tacky.
Tags: baking, bundt, cake, chocolate, dessert
I had wanted this post to be a recipe for a citrus loaf cake, but something went amiss in the preparation…namely, my brain when I tried to do some “cake math” to downsize the recipe. I was a math major in college, too. Seriously, Wellesley should revoke my degree for not being able to handle basic fractions. Anyway, that greasy disaster used up all my blood oranges and a copious amount of olive oil, so that was that for that– time to get over it and move on with chocolate!
I’ve made this Double Chocolate Bundt Cake from Food & Wine twice, and R and I like it a lot. It’s a homey, old-fashioned, easy peasy, hand-whisked thing. It’s kind of cake I imagine making for my imaginary children. Also, I have a particular fondess for chocolate cakes made with oil (I use grapeseed). They have a dense/moist crumb that I’m really into and they keep for days. The first time I baked this cake, used Dutch-processed cocoa, but the second time I decided to give natural a go, seeing as how baking soda is used as the leavener. While I didn’t notice any difference in rise between the two, I think the one made with natural cocoa tasted better…a little more chocolatey, maybe, although that could just be a difference between the two particular brands.
The ganache glaze and sprinkles may be mandatory for me, but if you can do without, a simple sift of powdered sugar on top of the cake would look really great. Don’t forget a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.
There’s a little Bundt cake trick I’ve learned at the shop where I work. Sometimes even a well-greased and floured a Bundt can have trouble releasing from the pan and can get a bit torn up. Right after you take the Bundt out of the oven, using potholders, give the bottom of the pan a good, swift rap on your counter (only if it’s heatsafe, though!). This helps the cake to settle a bit and come away from the sides of the pan, especially around the tube area, where it can sometimes get caught. I would not do this with most types of layer or loaf cakes, but a sturdy Bundt can take it– as long as it’s baked all the way, of course.
Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze- makes 10-12 servings
adapted from Food & Wine (November 2006)
Steph’s Notes: I made half a recipe in my 6-cup Bundt pan, but still used the full egg (I just chose the smallest egg in my carton). Also, my smaller cake baked in about 35-40 minutes.
vegetable oil spray or softened butter for the Bundt pan
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup or golden syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Thouroughly grease a a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray or softened butter. (I did not, but if you’d like added insurance, you can flour the pan as well.)
-In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.
-In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk; whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.
-Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Swiftly rap the pan on the counter once or twice right after pulling it from the oven…this will help the cake settle and release. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely.
-In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup (or golden syrup) and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.
-Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.
Tags: baking, chocolate, dessert, tarts
It’s back to the sweets with this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, which I am excited to be co-hosting along with Spike, Jaime and Jessica. We’re doing David Ogonowski’s Chocolate Truffle Tartlets, and they are every bit as intense as the name sounds. A chocolate crust is the vessel for a dark chocolate filling loaded with milk and white chocolate bits and pieces of crunchy cookie (I used amaretti, but biscotti are suggested, too). The filling isn’t a straightforward ganache, but a baked chocolate filling made with whipped egg yolks. The ribbony yolks give the filling some lift and structure. They don’t bake up exactly cakey or moussey, but kind of somewhere in between. Although the recipe says they are best enjoyed day of, I thought the tartlets were fantastic eaten chilled the next day, when they were like candy bars.
These tartlets may be small, but they pack a chocolate punch. A tartlet may be uaually meant for one, but I think these are so rich that they are made for sharing. A couple of notes about my personal experience here– I used a 60% chocolate in my filling base…I thought it was a tad too sweet when combined with the extra chocolate and cookie bits. Next time I’d go with a 70-something% for a bit more balance. Also, while the chocolate tart dough in this recipe is almost exactly the same as the one in BFMHTY, that one (BFMHTY) uses powdered sugar instead of granulated, and I think it may be a bit easier to work with.
For the recipe, you should see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan, but I also have it below. My co-hosts Spike, Jaime and Jessica will have it as well. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.
Chocolate Truffle Tartlets
recipe by David Ogonowski in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
for the chocolate dough
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp ice water
for the truffle filling
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
2 oz white chocolate, cut into small dice
2 oz milk chocolate, cut into small dice
4 biscotti, homemade or store-bought (you can use amaretti di Saronno), chopped
-To make the dough in a food processor: Put the metal blade in the processor and add the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Pulse just to blend. Add the butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the pieces are about the size of small peas. With the machine running, add the yolk and ice water and pulse just until crumbly – don’t overwork it. Turn it out onto the work surface and, working with small portions, smear the dough across the surface with the heel of your hand. Gather the dough together and shape it into a rough square. Pat it down to compress it slightly, and wrap it in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes. The dough will hold in the refrigerator for 3 days, or it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator before rolling it out.
-To make the dough by hand: Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt on a smooth work surface, preferably a cool surface such as marble. Toss the ingredients together lightly with your fingertips, then scatter the butter pieces across the dry ingredients. Use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour mixture until it forms pieces the size of small peas. Then use a combination of techniques to work the butter further into the flour: Break it up with your fingertips, rub it lightly between your palms, and chop it with the flat edge of a plastic or metal dough scraper. Gather the mixture into a mound, make a volcano-like well in the center, and pour in the yolk and ice water. Use your fingers to break up the yolk and start moistening the dry ingredients. Then, just as you did with the flour and butter, toss the ingredients with your fingers and use the dough scraper to chop and blend it. The dough will be crumbly and not really cohesive. Bring it together by smearing small portions of it across the work surface with the heel of your hand. Gather into a square and chill as directed above.
-Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and keep at hand. Remove the bottoms from six 4 ½-inch fluted tartlet pans (or use pans with permanent bottoms and just plan to pop the tartlet out once they’re filled, baked, and cooled); spray the pans with vegetable oil or brush with melted butter.
-Cut the dough into 6 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, shape the dough into a rough circle, then tamp it down with a rolling pin. Flour the work surface and the top of the dough and roll it into a circle about 1/8 to ¼- inch thick. As you roll, lift the dough with the help of a dough scraper to keep it from sticking. If the dough breaks (as it sometimes does), press it back together and keep going-it will be fine once it’s baked. Fit the dough into a tartlet ring, pressing it into the fluted edges and cutting the top level with the edges of the pan. Again, patch as you go. Use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour and place the lined tartlet ring on the prepared baking pan.
-When all of the shells are rolled out and formed, chill them for at least 20 minutes.
-Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the bottoms of the crusts all over with the tines of a fork and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the crusts are dry, blistery, and firm. Transfer the baking pan to a rack so that the crusts can cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
-Bring an inch of water to the simmer in a saucepan. Put the butter and bittersweet chocolate in a large metal bowl and place the bowl over the saucepan-don’t let the metal bowl touch the water. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt slowly, stirring from time to time, as you work on the rest of the filling. Remove the chocolate from the heat when it is melted and allow it to cool until it is just slightly warmer than room temperature.
-Put the yolks and vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl. Using the whisk or a hand-held mixer, start beating the yolks at medium speed and them, when they are broken up, reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the yolks and sugar until the yolks thicken and form a slowly dissolving ribbon when the beater is lifted.
-Spoon about one third of the yolks onto the cooled chocolate mixture and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Don’t worry about being too thorough. Pour the chocolate into the beaten yolks and gently fold the two mixtures together until they are almost completely blended. Add the cubed chocolates and biscotti, folding to incorporate the chunky pieces.
– Using an ice cream scoop or ¼ cup measure, divide the filling evenly among the cooled shells. Smooth the filling with a small offset spatula, working it into the nooks and crannies as you circle the tops of the tarts. Bake the tarts for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops look dry and the filling is just set. Remove to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.
-Best the day they’re made, these are still terrific after they’ve been refrigerated—they lose their textual finesse, but the taste is still very much there. For longer keeping, wrap the tartlets airtight and freeze them for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.