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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Recipe: Rocky Road Tart

Rocky Road Tart

Recipe: Rocky Road Tart

Tarts... empty shells awaiting tasty and decorative fillings... the blank canvasses of the pastry world!

Sharing display case space with the likes of Éclairs, Paris-Brests, and Opera Cake, eye-catching tarts of various shapes and sizes are emblematic of a true patisserie. 

The tart is a format without limits. Offerings extend from culinary school classics, including the very traditional Tarte au Citron (a Lemon Curd Tart) and savory Onion Tarts, to more modern indulgences such as a Chocolate Espresso Ganache Tart

Feeling a little playful, I decided to make a Rocky Road Tart. 

The combination of Marshmallow, Chocolate and Peanuts may not scream refinement, but that's okay! Hell, in an era where pouring Brownie Batter into a waffle iron is considered to be a revolutionary dessert idea, I applaud anyone willing to take the time to execute something technical. Not that waffle-iron Brownies will be anything short of delicious, but piping fresh Marshmallow and whipping up homemade Chocolate Ganache is a lot of fun!

This Rocky Road Tart pulls from several previously posted recipes including MarshmallowChocolate Ganache and Spiced Candied Pepitas (more detailed overviews of the techniques involved can be found in those posts). 

And as with any tart, a good shell is critical. You can use either flakey Pate Brisee, sweet Pate Sucree, crumbly Pate Sablee or even Puff Pastry. In this instance, my preference was Pate Brisee.

What follows are my recommendations for the Rocky Road Tart, but feel free to deviate... play around... go crazy. After all, it's dessert! 

Slice of Rocky Road Tart
Every good tart starts with a good crust, which can be made and even blind baked (i.e. baked without a filling) days in advance.

You can use either flakey Pate Brisee, sweet Pate Sucree, crumbly Pate Sablee or even Puff Pastry for any tart, but given the sweetness of this Marshmallow and Chocolate filling, my preference is for a flakey Pate Brisee. For an 8"/9" shell, you will need approximately 240g of dough. In this instance, that is a half recipe, but consider making a full recipe as the dough refrigerates and freezes well.

Prepare and blind bake the Tart Shell at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) until it is golden brown - approximately 30 minutes. While it typically is not recommended to dock a Tart Shell that will be finished with a liquid filling, the Chocolate Ganache for this Rocky Road Tart is sufficiently thick so that it should not seep through any docking marks.

Set the baked Tart Shell aside to cool. It can be blind baked in advance and stored at room temperature for 2 - 3 days wrapped in plastic wrap.

Spiced Candied Peanuts for Rocky Road Tart
Roasted Peanuts are one of the three key components to the Rocky Road flavor profile. But if you go with Spiced Candied Peanuts, you will get a little heat and a lot more flavor.

The recipe for the Spiced Candied Peanuts is almost identical to the previously posted recipe for Spiced Candied Pepitas, simply using Peanuts rather than Pumpkin Seeds. While you'll only need about 60g (2 oz) of Spiced Candied Peanuts for a single Rocky Road Tart, they are just as easy (if not easier) to make in larger quantities. Save the extra for future projects!

The Spiced Candied Peanuts can be prepared well in advance, stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks. Once they have cooled, I recommend coarsely chopping them for the Rocky Road Tart. While you can use whole Peanuts, using chopped nuts will make the Rocky Road Tart easier to fill (i.e. there will be fewer large spaces into which the Chocolate Ganache may not flow, an issue that could leave air pockets).

Oven Dried Strawberries for Rocky Road Tart
File these under optional extras, but Oven-Dried Strawberries add some concentrated fruit flavor to this treat. Like the Spiced Candied Peanuts, Oven-Dried Strawberries can be made in advance and in larger batches.

Oven-drying Strawberries can take up to eight hours, so plan ahead! 

Wash, stem and cut a quart of Strawberries (approximately 750g, but yields vary) into 1/4" slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a parchment or silpat lined sheet tray, leaving space between each slice. 

Place the sheet tray in the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit (77 degrees Celsius) for three hours. If your oven cannot be set as low as 170 degrees Fahrenheit, set it to the lowest possible heat; however, if that temperature is higher than 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius), you will need to regulate the temperature by keeping the door slightly ajar. The socially conscientious side of me has to note that this is also highly energy inefficient. 

After three hours, flip each Strawberry. Dry the slices for up to an additional five hours or until they are entirely dry and crisp. The Oven-Dried Strawberries will keep well for several weeks at room temperature in an airtight container. They can also be frozen.

Piping Marshmallow into Tart Shell for Rocky Road Tart
Once the Tart Shell and Spiced Candied Peanuts are baked and cooled, you can begin to assemble the Rocky Road Tart, which is all about the Marshmallow and Chocolate Ganache filings. 

Make one recipe of Marshmallow, using any Flavor Extract of your choice, although Vanilla is recommended.

While you will not need an entire recipe of Marshmallow for a single Rocky Road Tart, it is difficult to properly whip smaller quantities of Egg Whites, so I do not recommend attempting to make just a half recipe. Fortunately, the ingredients for Marshmallow are inexpensive. And who can't find a use for extra Marshmallow? The extra Marshmallow can be quickly piped into individual Rocky Road treats after you fill the Tart Shell (more on that later).

Once the Marshmallow has been whipped cool and to the proper consistency, immediately fill a pastry bag fitted with a #5 round tip. 

You can pipe the Marshmallow filling into the Tart Shell however you wish, but keep these considerations in mind:

  • First, leave room for the Chocolate Ganache. I recommend leaving enough room so that the Rocky Road Tart is at least 50% Chocolate Ganache.
  • Second, consider how the Rocky Road Tart will be cut. You should fill the Tart Shell such that each slice will be identical.
  • Third, maximize the volume of the Tart Shell with Marshmallow. Piping the outer edge of the Tart Shell with two layers of the Marshmallow creates a high barrier for the Rocky Road Tart, making it possible to fill it with more Chocolate Ganache.
  • Lastly, keep it simple. The more complicated the Marshmallow piping, the more difficult it may be to cleanly and smoothly fill the Tart Shell with the Chocolate Ganache. 

Once the Marshmallow is piped, sprinkle half (i.e. 30g / 1 oz) of the chopped Spiced Candied Peanuts into the Tart Shell.

Filling Rocky Road Tart with Chocolate Ganache
The final component is the Chocolate Ganache. Even though the Marshmallow will be sufficiently stable immediately after it is piped, it can be helpful to let it set and dry as you prepare the Chocolate Ganache. The Marshmallow can even be piped the day before and left to set and dry overnight.

The Chocolate Ganache is a simple 1:1 ratio of Chocolate and Cream with some Butter to improve texture. Allow the Chocolate Ganache to rest for a few minutes after it is made, stirring occasionally, but do not let the Chocolate Ganache cool too much or it may become overly thick and not pour smoothly. If the Chocolate Ganache becomes too thick, gently warm it over a double boiler. 

Carefully pour the Chocolate Ganache into the Tart Shell, filling the space around the Marshmallow and the chopped Spiced Candied Peanuts. Try to fill the Tart Shell with one steady pour. Pouring Chocolate Ganache over previously filled areas will create noticeable ripples in the finish.

Final Rocky Road Tart Covered with Spiced Candied Peanuts and Oven Dried Strawberries
As the Chocolate Ganache is setting, cover the top of the Rocky Road Tart with the remaining Spiced Candied Peanuts. Use some of the Oven-Dried Strawberries as garnish.

Set the Rocky Road Tart aside for approximately one hour before serving, allowing the Chocolate Ganache to fully set.

Chocolate Ganache Covered Marshmallows with Leftover Ingredients
If you have any leftover Marshmallow, Chocolate Ganache and Spiced Candied Peanuts, they can be used to make additional Rocky Road Treats. 

Pipe the remaining Marshmallow into domes on a Corn Starch or Powdered Sugar dusted, parchment or silpat lined sheet tray. While the Marshmallow is still sticky, sprinkle the domes with some of the remaining Spiced Candied Peanuts. Drizzle any remaining Chocolate Ganache on top of the domes. Set the sheet tray aside for at least one hour (ideally overnight, so the Marshmallow can completely set).

Slices of Rocky Road Tart
The Rocky Road Tart will keep for 2 - 3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature or up to a week in the refrigerator. A refrigerated Rocky Road Tart should be allowed to temper before serving. Do not freeze a filled Tart Shell.

- The Recipe -

Rocky Road Tart:

YieldOne 8"/9" Tart

As with many desserts, the individual components for this Rocky Road Tart are often easier to make in large quantities. For example, it can be difficult to make a small quantity of Marshmallow when it comes to whipping Egg Whites. Fortunately, the ingredients are cheap and the extra yield can be put to other uses. Other items, like Spiced Candied Peanuts and Oven-Dried Strawberries, can be stored for a long time in airtight containers at room temperature.


The recipe links provided are to previous posts containing additional details on the specific techniques involved.

Spiced Candied Peanuts Ingredients:

  • Peanuts: 150g (1 Cups)
  • Egg White: 15g (0.5x)

  • Sugar: 50g (0.25 Cup)
  • Salt: 3g (0.5 Tsp)
  • Cinnamon: 1 Tsp
  • Cayenne: 0.5 Tsp
  • Paprika: 0.5 Tsp

Oven-Dried Strawberries Ingredients:

  • Strawberries: 1 Quart (approximately 750g)

Marshmallow Ingredients:

  • Gelatin Sheets: 15g (6x - Silver)

  • Sugar: 200g (1 Cup)
  • Corn Syrup / Glucose: 60g (1/4 Cup)
  • Water: 60g (1/4 Cup)

  • Egg Whites: 60g (2x)
  • Flavored Extract: 5g (1 Tsp)

      Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

      • Heavy Cream: 120g (0.5 Cup)
      • Dark Chocolate, finely chopped: 100g (~3 oz)
      • Butter, cubed: 30g (2 Tbls)


      Spiced Candied Peanuts:

      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).

      2. Adding a little Egg White at a time, mix the Peanuts and Egg Whites by hand in a large bowl until the Peanuts are just coated. You may not need all of the Egg Whites.

      3. In a separate bowl, combine the Sugar, Salt, Cinnamon, Cayenne and Paprika. Sprinkle the Sugar mixture over the coated Peanuts and mix by hand.

      Chef's Note: The Cayenne can be excluded or reduced for those who do not like the heat.

      4. Scatter the coated Peanuts onto a parchment-lined sheet tray in a single layer.

      5. Roast the Peanuts until they are well toasted and crunchy, approximately 10 - 12 minutes. As the Peanuts roast, occasionally moved them around the sheet tray with a spatula or wooden spoon to ensure even baking.

      - The Spiced Candied Peanuts will keep for several weeks when stored in an airtight container.

      Oven-Dried Strawberries:

      1. Wash, stem and cut the Strawberries into 1/4" slices.

      2. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a parchment or silpat lined sheet tray, leaving space between each slice.

      3. Place the sheet tray in the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit (77 degrees Celsius) for three hours.

      Chef's Note: If your oven cannot be set as low as 170 degrees Fahrenheit, set it to the lowest possible heat; however, if that temperature is higher than 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius), you will need to regulate the temperature by keeping the door slightly ajar.

      4. Flip each Strawberry and dry the slices for up to an additional five hours or until the Strawberries are fully dry and crisp.

      - The Oven-Dried Strawberries will keep for several weeks when stored in an airtight container. They can also be frozen.

      Vanilla Marshmallow:

      1. Place the Gelatin Sheets, one by one, in a large bowl of ice water to bloom. Set the bowl aside.

      2. Combine the Sugar, Corn Syrup (or Glucose) and Water in a medium pot over high heat. Begin to heat the Sugar mixture to 240 degrees Fahrenheit (116 degree Celsius), which is the Soft Ball Stage for Sugar.

      3. As the Sugar mixture is heated to the Soft Ball Stage, place the Egg Whites in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the Egg Whites at medium speed until they become frothy and opaque, as if making a Meringue.

      4. When the Sugar mixture reaches temperature and the Egg Whites are frothy, increase the mixer to medium-high speed and stream the hot Sugar mixture down the side of the bowl into the whipping Egg Whites.

      5. Remove the Gelatin Sheets from the bowl of ice water and squeeze out any excess water. Place the Gelatin Sheets in the still-warm pot from the Sugar mixture to melt. Pour the melted Gelatin into the whipping Egg Whites and Sugar mixture. If using any Flavored Extract, add it at this time.

      6. Increase the mixer speed to high and whip the Marshmallow mixture until it cools, thickens and increases in volume. This will take approximately 10-15 minutes.

      - Be prepared to pipe the Marshmallow immediately after it is made.

      Chocolate Ganache:

      1. Finely chop the Chocolate and place it in a large mixing bowl. Gently heat the Cream to a rolling simmer. Pour the warm Cream over the finely chopped Chocolate and allow the Chocolate to melt for several minutes.

      2. After several minutes, emulsify the Cream and Chocolate. Using a wood spoon or spatula, begin by stirring in small circles at the center of the bowl, slowly working outwards as the Chocolate and Cream come together. Continue stirring until the mixture is completely combined. If some of the Chocolate is not entirely melted, the bowl can be placed over a double boiler and gently heated.

      Chef's Note: You can also use a whisk or a hand blender to emulsify the Ganache; however, be careful not to beat air into the Ganache. Trapped air will result in bubbles in the Ganache.

      3. Once the Ganache has come together, add the cubed Butter. Stir the mixture until the Butter is completely melted and all of the ingredients are well combined.

      Chef's Note: Use room temperature Butter that has been cubed into small pieces. It will be easier to incorporate into the Ganache.

      4. Set the Chocolate Ganache aside to cool slightly and thicken, stirring occasionally.

      - It is easiest to fill the Tart Shell while the Chocolate Ganache is still warm and fluid. The Chocolate Ganache can be stored for a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Gently reheat the Chocolate Ganache over a double boiler before using it to fill a Tart Shell.

      Assembling the Rocky Road Tart:

      Chef's Note: The Tart Shell, Spiced Candied Peanuts and Oven-Dried Strawberries should be made in advance while the Vanilla Marshmallow and Chocolate Ganache should be made right before filling the Rocky Road Tart.

      1. Form and blind bake the Tart Shell. Set the Tart Shell aside to cool.

      2. Make one recipe of Spiced Candied Peanuts. When cool, coarsely chop at least 60g (2 oz) to be used in the Rocky Road Tart. If desired, make one recipe of Oven-Dried Strawberries.

      3. Make one recipe of Vanilla Marshmallow (you will have extra Marshmallow left over). When the Marshmallow is whipped to the proper consistency, fill a pastry bag fitted with a #5 round tip. Begin to fill the Rocky Road Tart by piping two stacked rings at the outer edge of the Tart Shell creating an elevated border to help contain the Chocolate Ganache filling. Pipe additional dollops of Marshmallow inside the Tart Shell as desired.

      Chef's Note: Any extra Vanilla Marshmallow can used to make Rocky Road Domes by piping Marshmallow and covering it with any extra Spiced-Candied Peanuts and Chocolate Ganache.

      4. Sprinkle half of the chopped Spiced Candied Peanuts evenly about the Tart Shell.

      5. Prepare the Chocolate Ganache while the Vanilla Marshmallow sets. When the Chocolate Ganache has cooled but is still sufficiently liquid, carefully fill the Tart Shell, taking care to evenly fill the spaces around the piped Vanilla Marshmallow and chopped Spiced Candied Peanuts. When the Tart Shell is filled, sprinkle the top of the Rocky Road Tart with the remaining Spiced Candied Peanuts. Set the Rocky Road Tart aside for at least one hour at room temperature until the Chocolate Ganache has set. Serve at room temperature.

      - The Rocky Road Tart will keep for 2 - 3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature or up to a week in the refrigerator. A refrigerated Rocky Road Tart should be allowed to temper before serving. Do not freeze a filled Tart Shell.

      Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
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