Surprising companions: chocolate and rhubarb in small tarts Essay

The contrast of tangy red rhubarb with sweet dark chocolate is afeast for eye and palate. Here they go together in small tarts. Yougently stew the rhubarb and bake the fragile cooky crumb crustsseparately, then assemble just before serving. The season for bright pink greenhouse-grown strawberry rhubarb runsfrom late January to the end of March. Green-tinge field-grown cherryrhubarb is sometimes available as early as October and as late as May orJune.

Field rhubarb benefits from a few drops of red food coloring ifyou want it to have the visual appeal of the greenhouse variety. If you use home-grown rhubard, use only the ribs; market rhubarb isalready trimmed. Rhubarb Tarts 3/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoonsquick-cooking tapioca 6 cups rhubarb chunks, cut in 1-inch pieces 2slices fresh ginger, each about 1 inch in diameter and 1/8 inch thick 1tablespoon water 1 tablespoon grated orange peel Chocolate crusts(recipe follows) Chocolage glaze (recipe follows) Sweetened whippedcream In a 3- to 4-quart pan, stir together sugar and tapioca. Addrhubarb, ginger, and water.

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Let stand, stirring occasionally, untilsugar 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, andchill (up to 2 days). To assemble, sprinkle orange peel equally over bottom of eachchololate crust. Spoon rhubarb into crusts, dividing equally.

With aspoon, pour chocolate glaze on top of each tart, making thin lacystrands. To serve, lift tarts from pan rims; if made ahead, leave inpans and hold at room temperature up to 2 hours. Offer a whole or halftart per person.

Pass whipped cream to to individual tarts. Serves 6 to12. Chocolate crusts.

Finely crush enough chocolate wafers to make2-1/2 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 ormargarine. Press crumbs into 6 tart pans (4-1/2-in.

diameter) withremovable bottoms. Bake in a 350[deg.] oven for 10 minutes; crusts firmon cooling. Cool, then use; or cover airtight and hold at roomtemperature 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 unsweetenedchocolate with 1 teaspoon shortening, stirring until smooth. Spoon overtart at once at directed above.

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