Albany Symphony Orchestra. It was my first job - I was fresh out of the conservatory - and life was just filled with possibility. I had my fist apartment (half a small bungalow) and I was ready to be a grown up. The art on my walls would no longer include posters. My furniture would not be a futon. My bed would not have big wedge pillows so that it could double for a sofa. The food I ate would not simply be something that came from a can.
1 cup flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
3 ounces cream cheese, chilled
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Place flour in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter in 16 pieces and cream cheese in 6 pieces. Turn processor on and let run until dough forms a ball around the blade - about 30 seconds. (Lois mixed the dough by hand, but using the food processor makes this a snap.)
Remove dough from the food processor and divide evenly in half (a scale helps). Roll both halves into a long snake of dough, and divide each into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball between the palms of your hands, and then flatten a little. You should have 24 small discs. Place disks in a 24-cup mini muffin tin. Chill for 15 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and, using a floured tamper (as shown above*) or your thumb and fingers, bring the pastry evenly up the sides of the muffin tin until it just comes over the top of the mold. Chill while making the filling.
Place the milk, vanilla extract and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and add sugar and egg. Mix quickly so that the egg does not start to cook in the warm chocolate.
When thoroughly blended, remove tart shells from the refrigerator. Fill each about three-quarters full, using a teaspoon. You may have a few spoonfuls of leftover filling.
Bake for 22 minutes or until crust is golden brown and tarts are puffed like small soufflés. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.
* If using a tamper, it helps to swivel it as you finish molding the shell to make for easier release.
Variations: The only change I have made to this recipe is to vary the flavoring in the filling. I have replaced the vanilla with an equal amount of peppermint extract or orange emulsion.