Okay, so I made Swiss Meringue last week, right? For my new series on the different kinds of meringue. I started with the Swiss meringue, because I loooooove it! You know why? Because it’s fluffy. And dreamy. And deliciously thick and marshmallowy. And super easy to make. And… wait, did I just say ‘marshmallowy’?
And when I say ‘marshmallowy’, I think marshmallows. And when I think marshmallows, I think campfires. And when I think of marshmallows and campfires together, I think: s’mores! Duh. who wouldn’t… Anyway, because I had a big bowl of Swiss meringue, and some pretty basic pantry staples like chocolate and digestive biscuits – because graham crackers? What are graham crackers? I never had a single graham cracker in my life!! – I decided to whip up some cute mini s’mores tarts!
And they were gooooood!
Which was to be expected, of course. After all, I used the dreamiest, fluffiest, most gorgeous Swiss meringue ever…
Oh, and about those digestive biscuits, feel free to use graham crackers instead. I hear there’s nothing wrong with them. In fact, I hear they’re delicious! Too bad they don’t sell them around here, in the Netherlands. They sell about a zillion kinds of different cookies here, ranging from the ever popular Chattyheads and Stroopwafels (thin waffles sandwiched together with a thick caramely, cinnamoney syrup) to buttery soft spritz cookies and ordinary biscuits, but no graham crackers.
I feel I’m missing out…
Luckily, the digestives made a pretty good alternative. They paired beautifully with the dark chocolate ganache filling and the marshmallowy meringue. And the s’mores tarts were actually really easy to make too! However, having said that, I think it’s also pretty easy to completely mess them up if you don’t know what you’re doing. These tarts are quite fragile, you know. Sooooo, a few pointers:
- the cookie base is very (and I mean very, very, very, very) crumbly. So if you don’t have to photograph these for your food blog (like, um… ME!), think about serving these tarts in their cute, little tart pans. That way, you don’t risk ruining the crust.
- If you feel like you just must serve this like I did and remove the tarts from the pans, first pour in the dark chocolate filing and let it set in the fridge. The filling, once set, will prevent crumbling and helps to keep the crust together.
- Once the filling is set, dip the bottom of each tart pan in pan of hot water for about 10-20 seconds (be careful not to get the crust or the chocolate filling wet!), then invert the cute, little tart pan and rap it very gently on a cutting board, until the tart is released. If you can’t coax the tart out with some gentle rapping, dip the bottom of the tart pan into the hot water a little longer. The hot water melts the butter in the crust, so that the crust won’t stick to the pan.
- Once removed from the pans, place the tarts (right side up) on a serving platter.
And now comes the fun part! Whip up some Swiss meringue, plop it in a piping bag and pipe whatever shape you like on top of the ganache filling. I used a small star tip to pipe little kisses, but you could also pipe one huge swirl. Or, if you don’t have a piping bag, just dollop the meringue on top of the chocolate filling and use the back of a spoon to make pretty swirls. It’s hard to make meringue look yucky, so channel your inner artist and go for it!
Once the tarts are topped with the meringue, get out a kitchen torch (or the torch your Rocking Rebel always uses to light the fire place) and toast the meringue. Be careful not to burn it, because those little peaks brown very easily! If you don’t have a kitchen torch or a fireplace torch, run out to the store to get one! Whatever you do, don’t put these babies under the broiler. Sure, it browns the meringue, but the broiler will also completely melt the dark chocolate filling. You want the filling to be set! It makes cutting into these tarts a lot easier…
Because these tarts are not meant to be difficult. They should be easy peasy…
Talking about easy peasy, the life of a food blogger isn’t always that. At least, my food blogging life isn’t. It can be hard. Things can happen. BAD things!
For example, when I was shooting these photo’s, my makeshift light reflector toppled over and completely crushed two of my gorgeous, little, naked s’mores tarts. Sad face…
Luckily, I had four tarts. So this pathetic one was quickly devoured by the Rocking Rebel and I moved another one to the front to photograph.
And all was well…
Especially because these tarts were ridiculously good!
- 130g (or 4½ ounces) digestive biscuits or graham crackers
- pinch of table salt
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter
- 100g (or 3½ ounces) dark chocolate, chopped
- 60ml (or ¼ cup) whipping cream
- 12g (or 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
- 45ml (or 3 tablespoons) egg whites (1-2 egg whites)
- 55g (or ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or paste, optional
- Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F (standard oven setting).
- Wrap the cookies in a tea towel and crush with a rolling pin until all that's left is fine crumbs. Stir in the salt and cinnamon. Alternatively, place the cookies in a food processor with the cinnamon and salt and pulse until combined and finely ground.
- Place the crumb mixture in a medium-sized bowl and stir in the melted butter.
- Using the back of a spoon, press the crumb mixture firmly into four mini tart pans (mine were 10-cm/4-inches in diameter).
- Bake the crusts for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized, heatproof bowl.
- Combine the cream and sugar in a small saucepan and place over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Scald the mixture, then immediately pour it over the chopped chocolate. Allow to sit undisturbed for about 1 minute, then whisk the ganache until completely smooth.
- Divide the ganache over the cooled tart crusts and place in the fridge to set, about 1 hour.
- In a medium-sized, heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.
- Place the bowl over a small pan with simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl.
- Keep whisking the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. You can easily check whether the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit of the mixture between your fingers; the mixture shouldn’t feel grainy. If you’re not worried about salmonella, you can take the mixture off the heat at this point.
- If you want to pasteurize the meringue, keep whisking until the mixture reaches a temperature of 71°C/160°F. Once the meringue reaches the desired temperature, take it off the heat.
- Using a hand held or a stand mixer, beat the warm mixture until the meringue holds stiff peaks and has cooled to room temperature. Set aside.
- Check whether the ganache filling has set. If it has, take the tarts out of the fridge and transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a star tip.
- If you want to, remove the tarts from the tart pans by dipping the bottom of each pan in a bowl of hot water for about 15 seconds, inverting the pans over a cutting board and gently rapping them on the board to release the tarts. Don't forget to place them right side up again before piping ;)
- Pipe little meringue kisses on the surface of the ganache. Or, if you don't have a piping bag, spoon the meringue on top of the ganache, using the back of a spoon to make cute swirls.
- Use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue topping, being careful not to burn it.
- Serve immediately or place in the fridge until ready to serve.