I don't know if it's where we live or our time of life or what, but between my friends and myself there has been a new baby every month since September (and they keep on coming!). It has been really nice to be going through all of this together- pregnancy, labor & delivery, newborns, AND baby showers.
It took us so long to get pregnant with Annie that I struggled with baby showers in the past. I had to stop offering to throw them in the beginning, and down the road there were times when I just didn't go- not because I haven't been happy for all of my friends and family, but because I needed to, for me. I always tried to get a gift whether or not I was going to the shower, and, truth be told, there were plenty of times when I only made it to the party because of the promise of delicious shower food :)
The baby showers thrown for me before Annie was born were beautiful- times of celebration and reflection. And so in a spirit of gratitude (and remembering all of the pretty plates that got me through), I've gradually started getting back into the baby shower game. I'm not much good with decor or games, but I can make foods that look and taste pretty darn good. So this weekend, I cohosted a baby shower at which I was in charge of bringing folding chairs, flowers, and dessert: vanilla raspberry, chocolate strawberry, and lemon poppy seed tartlets.
I got the idea for the Chocolate Strawberry Tartlets from an Instagram post by the author of The Fearless Baker, Erin Jeanne McDowell, which led me to her recipe for Baby Chocolate Strawberry Cream Pie on FOOD52. Her photos stopped me dead in my scroll, and I've been looking for an excuse to bring them to life ever since! But while her recipe looks like perfection, I had just started dabbling with tarts, so I imagined that strawberry cream playing a slightly different role.
For the tartlet shells, I started with the recipe for pate sucree in Sarabeth's Bakery (which is also where the creme patisserie, lemon curd, and meringue recipes are from). I simply incorporated poppy seeds for my lemon poppy seed tarts, undercooking them ever so slightly so they could face the heat when it came time to brown the meringues.
But Sarabeth doesn't have a chocolate tart dough, so I decided to experiment. I had read in a Martha Stewart book that you could replace 1/4 C. flour in a tart dough recipe with 1/4 C. chocolate powder, so I took that down as gospel truth and made the necessary adjustments to Sarabeth's original recipe. The only other thing I knew (from all of Paul Hollywoods admonitions) was that it is hard to tell when chocolate pastries are done because of their coloring, so needless to say my fingers were crossed the whole time.
I am simultaneously delighted with how they turned out and surprised with what I was able to do with so little hand-holding! Aren't they pretty? And I must say that my tweaks to create the chocolate strawberry tartlet made for a delicious bite size treat. It's all thanks to authors like Sarahbeth and Erin, who set out to teach you the how AND why of baking, building up your confidence through their simple reassurances until all of the sudden, you're eating your own homemade croissants and creme puffs and feeling like you have just completed the Show Stopper Challenge on the British Bake Show.
The tarts were a hit at the shower, and my only disappointment with the whole experience is that there weren't any leftovers to take home!
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