Dark Chocolate and Cherry Canapés

This GF orange-tinged sweet shortcrust pastry enhances the cream, dark chocolate, and cherry flavours. This is truly a ‘wow’ dessert or tea break treat.

I wanted to make something fancy, and my 24-hole canapé tin proved its worth. The tasters wanted more (always a good result!)

Makes: 48 canapé-sized tartlettes (see Kit footnote for larger sizes)

Ingredients
For the GF sweet shortcrust pastry:

  • 175g gluten-free flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
  • 50g polenta (fine cornmeal)
  • 1 heaped tsp xantham gum
  • 150g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 50g white caster sugar
  • 2 oranges, all of finely grated zest:
    – 1/2 for pastry (see Zest footnote)
    – 1/2 reserved on a plate to dry out, for decoration
    and all of juice reserved for cherry compote
  • 1 egg (about 50g when weighed in its shell), beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water

For the cherry compote:

  • 2 oranges, juice only (see Pastry Ingredients)
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour or arrowroot powder
  • 40 fresh cherries, stoned, and roughly chopped
  • 2 heaped dessert spoonfuls of soft dark brown, dark muscavado, or molasses sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (2 or 3 seconds’ grating of fresh nutmeg)

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 75ml double cream
  • 100g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids), broken into small squares

For the whipped cream:

  • 100ml double cream (104g if weighing), whisked until very stiff

For the decoration:

  • 1 orange, grated zest only, dried (see Pastry Ingredients)
  • Approx. 5g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids), grated
  • Sifted icing sugar (optional)

Kit

  • A 24-hole non-stick canapé tin with 1″ diameter holes (see Kit footnote for other tins)
  • 2 large mixing bowls, plus a small bowl for beaten egg
  • Clingfilm
  • Rolling pin
  • A 5cm (2″) round pastry cutter
  • Cooling rack
  • A small, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • A manual whisk
  • Electric mixer (hand-held, or stand) to whip cream
  • Piping bag and nozzle (optional)
  • Grater for chocolate
  • Serving platter or tray
  • Sieve for icing sugar (optional)

Steps
Making the pastry:

  1. Manually mix the flour, polenta, and gum in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and orange zest (see Zest footnote), and stir well.
  2. Add 1/3 of the beaten egg+water and stir until you can bring the pastry together into a ball in your hands. You want pastry that isn’t too wet – a too-wet pastry will be tough and shrink in the oven, so err on the side of ‘it feels just slightly too dry’. If it’s just too crumbly, add additional egg+water a drop or so at a time.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface and your hands, and gently knead the dough for a few minutes until it feels more silky-smooth. Make a ball and flatten it into a thick disc, then wrap in clingfilm and put into the fridge for about 1 hour (or ideally, overnight – see Timings footnote).
  4. Preheat your oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted).
  5. Lightly flour your work surface and a rolling pin, and roll out the pastry to 1/2 cm in depth. Using a 5cm cutter, punch out 24 discs and poke each into the holes of the canapé tin (mine came with a wooden dowel, perfect for this job – just dust it lightly with flour). Put additional dough back in the fridge until ready to bake the 2nd batch.
  6. Prick each tartlette all over with a fork, and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Take the tray from the oven and remove each tartlette casing to a cooling rack. Wipe out the tin and let it cool before loading up with the rest of the dough.

Making the cherry compote:

  1. Heat the orange juice in a saucepan on the hob to boiling, and briskly stir in the cornflour/arrowroot until fully dissolved.
  2. Add all remaining compote ingredients, and bring back to the boil for 10 minutes, constantly stirring. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat when the compote has reduced to a very thick jam-like consistency. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool (ideally, then put it into the fridge overnight – see Timings footnote).

Making the chocolate ganache:

  1. Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan on the hob, then remove from the heat. Add the chocolate pieces and whisk briskly by hand until fully melted and the ganache is glossy. Allow to cool slightly.

Assembling:

  1. Put the cooled pastry cases on a serving platter. (This could be a parchment-lined baking tray.)
  2. Spoon some chocolate ganache into each case to fill it halfway. You could pipe it in if you like.
  3. Spoon over some cold cherry compote onto each tartlette.
  4. Dab (or pipe, if you like) some whipped cream on top of each tartlette.
  5. Grate some dark chocolate over, followed with a sprinkling of the dried orange zest.
    If you like, sift some icing sugar over as well.
  6. Leave the serving tray in the fridge for 30 minutes or so for the ganache to slightly harden, before serving.

Different Kit
This recipe as written does require specialised kit, but it could be easily adapted for a standard 12-hole muffin or bun tin – simply increase the pastry baking time to suit the larger tart size. You should get up to 24 larger tarts from this recipe. You’ll need to lightly grease your muffin tin holes if your pan is not non-stick, and you’d probably do well to line each larger tart with baking/parchment paper and fill with baking beans to avoid puffing up.

Timings
I know this recipe sounds like a lot of work (and it’s totally worth it!), but you can space it out. Make the pastry (Steps 1-3) and cherry compote the night before, and leave both in the fridge. Leave the decoration’s orange zest to dry out on a plate on the countertop overnight.
The next day, simply roll out and bake the pastry, make the ganache, whip the cream, and assemble.

Orange Zest for Pastry
Orange zest, when freshly grated, is quite wet. This will affect how much of the beaten egg + water you add to the pastry. A great tip is to put the zest of both oranges onto separate plates, and let one sit on the countertop overnight (for the decoration). The zest for the pastry I put into an oven on the lowest heat, then turn it off; let it dry out, then crush it with a pestle into a powder. This not only concentrates the orange flavour, but it also doesn’t make the pastry too wet.

Attributions
I adapted the BBC‘s GF pastry recipe (adding orange, and altering the flour/polenta ratio). The chocolate ganache is by way of Mary Berry and my other recipe. I just made up the cherry compote, which makes an excellent jam for toast too.

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