Surprising companions: chocolate and rhubarb in small tarts Essay

The contrast of tangy red rhubarb with sweet dark chocolate is a
feast for eye and palate. Here they go together in small tarts. You
gently stew the rhubarb and bake the fragile cooky crumb crusts
separately, then assemble just before serving.



The season for bright pink greenhouse-grown strawberry rhubarb runs
from late January to the end of March. Green-tinge field-grown cherry
rhubarb is sometimes available as early as October and as late as May or
June. Field rhubarb benefits from a few drops of red food coloring if
you want it to have the visual appeal of the greenhouse variety.

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If you use home-grown rhubard, use only the ribs; market rhubarb is
already trimmed. Rhubarb Tarts 3/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons
quick-cooking tapioca 6 cups rhubarb chunks, cut in 1-inch pieces 2
slices fresh ginger, each about 1 inch in diameter and 1/8 inch thick 1
tablespoon water 1 tablespoon grated orange peel Chocolate crusts
(recipe follows) Chocolage glaze (recipe follows) Sweetened whipped
cream



In a 3- to 4-quart pan, stir together sugar and tapioca. Add
rhubarb, ginger, and water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until
sugar is partially dissolved, about 15 minutes.



Cover rhubarb, bring to a boil, and simmer until soft when pierced,
about 10 minutes; do not stir. Remove ginger. Let cool, cover, and
chill (up to 2 days).



To assemble, sprinkle orange peel equally over bottom of each
chololate crust. Spoon rhubarb into crusts, dividing equally. With a
spoon, pour chocolate glaze on top of each tart, making thin lacy
strands. To serve, lift tarts from pan rims; if made ahead, leave in
pans and hold at room temperature up to 2 hours. Offer a whole or half
tart per person. Pass whipped cream to to individual tarts. Serves 6 to
12.



Chocolate crusts. Finely crush enough chocolate wafers to make
2-1/2 cups crumbs (you’ll need about 1-1/2 boxes, 8-1/2-oz. Size,
chocolate wafers). Mix with 3/4 cup (3/8 lb.) melted butter or
margarine. Press crumbs into 6 tart pans (4-1/2-in. diameter) with
removable bottoms. Bake in a 350[deg.] oven for 10 minutes; crusts firm
on cooling. Cool, then use; or cover airtight and hold at room
temperature up to 1 day.



Chocolate glaze. In a 1-quart or smaller pan over lowest heat,
melt 1 ounce each bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and unsweetened
chocolate with 1 teaspoon shortening, stirring until smooth. Spoon over
tart at once at directed above.

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