2016 was a pretty epic year for me: I got a dog, I switched jobs, and I got married to my BFF/soulmate.
Husband proposed on my birthday in a teepee befitted with twinkly lights. From the setting to the ring, the whole night was absolutely perfect. I even found out he had been secretly stalking me to try to figure out my ring size. (Like a normal person, he tried to measure my finger with string while I was sleeping. But unlike a normal person, he dug through our sewing kit to find string that matched our sheets so that if, by chance, I awoke and found him hovering above me with a tiny string in hand, he would pretend he miraculously woke up and found a string from the sheets.)
Then, of course, we got to plan a wedding. We spent several months furiously searching venues in at least 5 different states. I'll admit I had some crazy ideas. (I maintain the tropical conservatory at the Virginia Winery was a great idea, even if we would've had to eat in a hot, muggy rainforest and the geese outside were borderline feral.) In the end we found an idyllic family-owned brewery in Sonoma.
And then, of course, there were a few hiccups along the way. Like when we flew out a month before to finalize the details and found out our ceremony venue was hosting another wedding on the same day... at the same time... on the same lawn.
But in the end, we were wed and got to celebrate with 41 of our most favorite people and it. was. absolutely. perfect. (Except for maybe the mariachi band that almost became my processional music. But even that was a good laugh and a great story.)
Now that we've spent a solid 6 months in marital bliss (...and I've changed my name on my last official document), it feels like an appropriate time to pause and reflect on what a spectacular year 2016 has been.
To commemorate this mini milestone, I made chili-chocolate passion fruit tarts, one of my all-time favorite desserts and the inspiration for one of our wedding cake flavors (yes, we had two and naturally the other one was herb-flavored).
CHILI-CHOCOLATE PASSION FRUIT TARTS
CHILI-CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD INGREDIENTS
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and slightly softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper (optional)
- 1/4 tsp salt
PASSION FRUIT CURD INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 cup passion fruit puree or pulp (you want real puree, not "cocktail" or "juice" here)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp of powdered gelatin
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Make the shortbread. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To start, you have options. I like to make this in the food processor (I find it more evenly distributes the ingredients, making it easier to shape the crust), but you can also go with the more standard approach of mixing the dough together in a stand or hand mixer. If you go the food processor route, just dump all the ingredients into the work bowl and blend until they're evenly combined and the dough has a sand-like consistency. If you go the mixer route, first mix together the butter and sugar until they're combined, and then add in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, chipotle chili powder (if you're using it), and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the creamed butter. Paddle slowly until everything is combined.
- Dump your dough onto a lightly floured surface (or a nice big piece of plastic wrap for my preferred method). Gather it into a flat, round disk. You may have to work it a bit with your hands to get it to stay together but the heat from your hands will make that possible. It just takes a little patience and pressure to keep it nice and compact. If your dough is too warm to roll out without sticking, it's a good idea to pop this in the fridge for 30 mins, until it's cool enough to be workable.
- Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and, using a round-shaped cutter (I like something between 2.5 and 3 inches in diameter), stamp out shortbread circles. Grab a standard muffin pan, and place the circles inside each ungreased muffin cup.
- Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, until the cookie looks set and starts to look flaky. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Make the passion fruit curd. Start by blooming your gelatin. In a small bowl, measure out 2 tablespoons of the passion fruit puree and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over it in an even layer.
- Mix the remaining passion fruit puree, sugar and eggs in a medium pot until everything is thoroughly combined. Turn on the heat and add the butter, constantly whisking over low heat as the butter melts. When the mixture boils (or, if you have a thermometer, when you hit 160 degrees F), pour it into a medium bowl. If your mixture is not smooth, pour it over a fine-mesh sieve to remove any cooked egg bits.
- Finally, using a mixer, thoroughly mix in the gelatin bloomed in the passion fruit and the salt. You should now have a nice, thick, shiny curd. Pop this into the fridge until it's completely cooled (about 30 minutes).
- Assemble the tarts. Pop out the chili-chocolate shortbread shells and fill with the cooled passion fruit curd. Top with your favorite fruits and enjoy!