Because his father was Scottish, the HH is very particular about his shortbread. Since his mother never learned to bake, however, he grew up thinking that “real” shortbread came in a box. (But hey, he was very particular about which box).
In our house, where baking was as natural as tying your shoelaces, there was only one kind of shortbread: the recipe my mother clipped out of Good Housekeeping magazine in the 70s, which involved copious amounts of butter, all purpose flour, cornstarch and sugar. They were crisp on the outside, soft, buttery and slightly sandy on the inside. I copied that recipe to take with me when I moved out on my own, and continued to make it for years to come.
When the folks at Club House (a division of McCormick Canada) contacted me to see if I’d be interested in developing a recipe with their new gluten-free rice flour and potato starch, I knew immediately what I wanted to make. Living on an anti-candida diet for life means that I would have to modify my mom’s old shortbread recipe, of course. I’d been contemplating creating an ACD-friendly version of the classic cookie using potato starch (probably my favorite starch in general, one that’s already in my own all-purpose mix) rather than the cornstarch; and rice flour, of course, is a must for traditional shortbread recipes.
I started playing with the ingredients. The Club House flours come in pouches that stand up on the countertop for easy scooping, with resealable tops. They’re also certified gluten-free by the Canadian Celiac Association and certified kosher. The rice flour has a lovely, really fine texture, which proved finer than other rice flours I’ve used. I also received some of the new Minute Tapioca, and lost no time cooking it up into a rich, thick pudding using coconut milk. Wonderful on its own, but I bet it would also be terrific with berries (or. . . chocolate).
[Tapioca pudding made with coconut milk and sweetened with stevia. Perfect pudding for dessert. . . or breakfast?]
But back to the tarts! I was thrilled with how my shortbread turned out. If you’re looking for a classic shortbread cookie, bake the dough on its own and cut into squares (I’ll be baking several more batches in different flavors as gifts this holiday season). But when baked into tart shells and filled with the chocolate chestnut mousse, this recipe is truly elevated to something spectacular. These tarts are a real show-stopper–an elegant, enticing finish to a festive meal, and one that will have guests reminiscing about dessert long after the party is over.
[The dough baked as shortbread cookies. Light, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth. And no rolling required!]
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to fall in love with chestnuts, but now that I have, I pretty much want to eat them with everything. As I mentioned recently on Instagram, I am entirely besotted with this chocolate chestnut mousse! The shortbread crust offers the perfect counterpoint both visually and texturally: its light, sandy, tender, and perfectly sweetened base contrasts exquisitely with the silky and alluring mousse.
The HH took one bite of his tart and practically swooned. “The mousse, the shortbread. . . wow. This is THE perfect shortbread,” he pronounced. “Just like my mom used to get.” Well, I didn’t have the heart to tell him “uh, no.” But it was still nice to know this recipe provides the same sandy, buttery Scottish shortbread flavor and texture as the “real thing.” Yep, a classic.
Giveaway tomorrow! Be sure to come back and visit the blog tomorrow, when I’ll be giving away a gift pack of all three of these Club House products so you can make your own tarts (and more)!
Chocolate Chestnut Mousse Tarts with Shortcake Crust
These tarts are the ultimate holiday dessert: elegant, rich, beautifully presented–yet light enough to follow a major feast. If you prefer one large, single tart, simply pat the crust into a pie plate and bake until golden brown on the edges. Note that the mousse needs to chill overnight before using, so be sure to start these treats the day before you intend to serve them.
For the Chocolate-Chestnut Mousse:
1 can (14 oz or 400 ml) full-fat coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
7 ounces (200 grams) unsweetened roasted chestnuts (I use the kind in presealed bags)
6 Tbsp (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp or 50 g) coconut sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
25-30 drops pure chocolate flavored liquid stevia, or to your taste
2 ounces (55 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate, melted
pinch fine sea salt
For the shortbread crust:
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut sugar
1/3 cup (50 g) Club House potato starch
1/2 cup (120 ml) coconut oil, soft at room temperature
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut nectar
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (90 g) Ricki’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix
1/3 cup (55 g) Club House rice flour
1 tsp (5 ml) xanthan gum
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
Garnish: shaved unsweetened chocolate (optional)
Make the Mousse: Combine all ingredients except chocolate in a high-speed blender and blend until silky smooth. Add the chocolate and blend again until it’s all incorporated. You should have a thin mousse at this point that is almost pudding-like; this is as it should be. Pour the mousse into a bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Make the tart shells: Preheat oven to 325F (170 C). Line 10 3-inch (7.5 cm) tart pans with small parchment rounds. Spray with nonstick spray. Place the tart pans on a large cookie sheet.
In a coffee grinder, grind the coconut sugar and potato starch to a fine powder. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, coconut nectar and vanilla. Sift in the all purpose flour, rice flour, xanthan gum and sea salt; add the coconut sugar-potato starch mixture and stir until you have a soft dough. Use your hands if necessary to knead the dough until it comes together.
Divide the dough into ten equal parts and place one mound of dough in each tart pan. Starting with the sides, press the dough evenly into each pan. Dock the crust by pricking the bottoms of each tart with a fork 2-3 times.
Bake the tart shells for 20-25 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet about halfway through baking, until they are light golden and the edges are beginning to brown. Cool completely before removing from the pans and filling with the chestnut mousse.
When ready to fill the tarts, remove the bowl of mousse from the refrigerator. Using electric beaters, beat the mousse until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes (the color will also get lighter). Use a piping bag to pipe the mousse into the shells, or just mound it decoratively and swirl the top with a spoon. Garnish with shaved chocolate, if desired. Makes 10 tarts. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to three days. Remove from the fridge about 10 minutes before serving. May be frozen. To defrost, place in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight.
Shortbread cookie variation: For plain shortbreads, omit the filling entirely. Pat the dough into a large rectangle that is about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Cut into squares or rectangles and poke holes across the top with a fork, if desired. Gently transfer to a cookie sheet that’s lined with parchment. Bake 12-18 minutes, until the cookies are golden and edges are beginning to brown. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 4 days. May be frozen. If desired, you can stir in chopped nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips when mixing the dough.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 3 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, vegan.
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This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.