Baking With Dorie Greenspan: Chocolate tarts for Valentine's Day and more.

Feb 08, 2017

Beloved cookbook author Dorie Greenspan ("Baking Chez Moi," "Baking: From My Home To Yours," "Around My French Table" and more) answers your questions about baking, her "Everyday Dorie" column and everything else she's cooking.
This week's column: The easy recipe for Valentine’s Day success: Heavenly, rich chocolate tartlets
This week's recipe: Dorie Greenspan’s Creamy Chocolate Tartlets

Bonjour from Paris and my new apartment.  We moved in yesterday afternoon, I'm buried in boxes, but I've got wifi, a plugged-in coffeemaker, wine and a corkscrew, so all's good.

Before I moved, I baked cookies for the moving people and today's chocolate tartlets for friends.

What have you been cooking and baking? Let's chat about it - 

I was going to ask for a recommendation for something sweet (but portion limited) to make with my preschooler for Valentines Day - this is it! She can crumble the cookies for the crust (toy hammer + zip lock bag!) and help decorate after I do the filling. Can't wait. <3 to you!

Dorie Greenspan’s Creamy Chocolate Tartlets

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Creamy Chocolate Tartlets

I can almost see your daughter with the toy hammer - love it.  

Press-in crusts are fun for kids ... for grown-ups too.  And they taste great.  With a cookie crumb, you get crunch and butteriness together.  Always a good combo.

Have fun making these and, if you can, send us a picture of your preschooler, her hammer and her tartlets.

How many tarts does your recipe make?

The recipe is for four 4-inch tartlets (or 4 tartlets in ready-made crusts).  I think of these as one-to-a-person treats.  However, you could cut them in half and serve 8 or, if you're looking to serve more people, make smaller tartlets.

I wouldn't suggest cutting down the ganache recipe to make few tartlets, since it's a little difficult to work with a smaller quantity of cream and chocolate.

Hi Dorie! My friend asked me to help bake some things for her 1-year-old son's birthday "brunch". We are definitely doing a funfetti cake as the centerpiece. Do you have any ideas for a couple of cookies or bars that could supplement? Yes, this party is mostly for the parents, but we're going for the colorful, playful theme. :)

Oh what fun!  Of course the brunch is for the parents, but it's just right that you want to make it colorful and playful.

When I'm looking to have fun decorating cookies, I pull out my recipe for Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Dough. It's a delicious dough and you can play around with it ... lots.

Thumbprints are also fun.

And go back to this past Christmas - there were fabulous cookies in the round-up that could be great for the brunch.

Have fun and Happy Birthday!

Dorie Greenspan’s Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough


ARTICLE: 27 holiday cookies you’ll want to bake this season

I know it goes against the Valentine Diktat of individual servings, but I would like to make the chocolate tartlets as one big tart - for a party. Would it work in a 12-inch tart pan? Or two 9-inch tart pans?

The recipe will work for any size tart, bigger or smaller, but you'll have to adjust the quantities - natch.  

If you make a 9-inch tart, you'll have to make about 2 1/2 times the ganache recipe to fill the tart; 2 times if you want to leave room for a layer of whipped cream.  (The crust recipe should be fine as is.)  For a 12-inch tart, I'd go with 3 1/2 times the recipe and I'd up the crust by about 1/3.

The chocolate cream is beautiful in a a larger size - enjoy it!

I'm the baker who had spiderwebby world peace cookies coming back! I made them again for my superbowl party and followed your very helpful suggestions from the last chat- including hunting down baking quality bittersweet chocolate. My crumbly dough problem remains but it was slightly less bad since I ended up melting part of the butter since I only have so much arm strength. Overall a rousing success and much prettier! (I also made the two bite one chip cookies for the party...and my freezer since I ended up with nearly 100 of them!)

I'm so glad you went back to the cookies and had more success.  As I said earlier, it's a dough that needs a good mixer and so it's hard to get the texture when you're using people rather than machine power.  But three cheers for you - I love your spunk!  And I love that you've got Two-Bite One-Chip Cookies in your freezer, party-ready.  That's one of my favorite recipes in my new book.

Thanks for following up with us.

Hi! I have read these chats for years... and I'm hoping you can help me. I recall getting a recipe from the Post years ago (mid 2000s?) that called for an appetizer of baked goat cheese topped with a green salsa - I remember it had pumpkin seeds in the salsa. For the life of me, I cannot find the recipe no matter how I search for it. Does this ring a bell for anyone? My tummy and I would be forever grateful to find the recipe again.

Producer Becky here. I have been combing the archives since your question came in, and I'm sorry to say I can't find anything that matches this description!

I love having frozen balls of cookie dough in the freezer but I've found the cookies never bake up in quite the same way as fresh-mixed dough does. A new America's Test Kitchen recipe for Snickerdoodles advises baking frozen dough for a longer period of time at a lower temp (in their case 300 degrees for 18-20 minutes compared to 375 degrees for 8-12 minutes). What are your thoughts on how this would work with chocolate chip cookies?

Hmmm, what do you find different about the make-from-the-freezer cookies?

I don't think all cookies are successful freeze-then-bake cookies, but chocolate chip cookies are great candidates for this.

I haven't tried the America's Test Kitchen procedure - has anyone out there?  Please chime in if you have.  

Here's what I do:

Any cookie that you'd normally scoop or spoon into shape when fresh, I form into a ball.

Any cookie that you'd normally cut out, I roll and cut.

For all kinds of cookies, I place the balls or cut-outs on lined baking sheets and freeze them, uncovered.  When they're solid, I remove them from the sheets and pack them airtight.

When I'm ready to bake them, I lay the frozen dough out on lined baking sheets and leave them at room temperature while I preheat the oven.

With this little bit of 'defrost' time, the cookies bake at their regular temperature.  If they're thick, they might need a minute or two more.  Check them at the 'regular' time, knowing that you might need a couple of minutes more.

Hope this helps.

Hi! I've been making gluten-free popovers in a muffin pan. The centers tend to collapse. Do you think separating the eggs and beating the whites would provide enough structure to lift the dough? Thank you!

Help!  Anyone have any experience with gluten-free popovers?

I think that beating the whites might help - not sure that it will be enough to give you all the puff you need.  Let's see if someone else has made gluten-free popovers and has some tips.

Hi - I received a jar of cantaloupe preserves/marmalade in a gift basket, any ideas for incorporating it into a tart or other dessert? thanks!

I wonder if the marmalade wouldn't be great with lemon or with almonds or with both.

What about glazing a frangipane tart with the marmalade?  Or covering the bottom of a partially baked tart shell with the marmalade, and then topping it with frangipane and sliced lemons?  Bake and finish with either a swish of warmed marmalade or a dusting of confectioner's sugar.  Bet it would be delish!

Hi Dorie-congrats on the new apartment and good luck unpacking! I have a tub of cottage cheese in the fridge that is nearing its sell by date and was wondering if you had any ideas of how to incorporate into a baked good? does such a thing exist?

Thanks for the sweet wishes for my move. 

Cottage cheese is lovely in baked goods.  It provides a bit of tang and acidity and a certain amount of tenderness.

I'm not sure what you'd like to make, but you might think about cheesecake - the ones made with cottage cheese are nice.  Not as smooth as cream-cheese cakes; more like ricotta cheesecakes.

You could make these Herbed Cottage Cheese Biscuits, one of my faves.  These are fun to make - any time I can get my fingers in the dough, I'm happy - and very delicious.

Anybody have any other ideas?

Dorie Greenspan's Herbed Cottage Cheese Biscuits

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Herbed Cottage Cheese Biscuits

My marble pound cake recipe calls for putting half the batter in the bottom of a loaf pan, then adding chocolate to the remaining batter and putting it on top. Then, using a knife, cut down and sweep through to produce the swirl pattern. When I tried this, the baked loaf did not come out as a nice swirl. What is a better way to produce a two-toned swirl? P.S. Weeks ago you reassured me that butter left out a while would not hurt the World Peace Cookies, and you were SO right. They were delicious! Thank you.

Yay! I'm so glad everything went well with your butter and the World Peace Cookies.

I make my marble cakes differently from the one you just made.  I spoon dollops of the vanilla and chocolate batters into the pan randomly. There are no 'layers', just an odd bunch of polka dots. (I do think about it though - if there's white batter, I'll try to spoon dark batter over it when I'm filling the pan.  I never have a solid layer of one color batter.)  And then I use a chopstick or a table knife to swirl the two batters.

The trick to a pretty marble cake is restraint.  It's so tempting to swirl and run your knife back and forth through the batter - resist!  You want to mix things up, but you don't want to overdo it.

If you try this, let me know how it goes.

As long as you're in Paris you should look up David Liebovitz. He could probably help you arrange your (tiny) kitchen.

I'm sure he could! I've been so busy on this trip that I haven't had a chance to see him or many of my other friends.  

I remember that David's first kitchen was small; his current one is spacious.  The kitchen I moved from was large and this new one's compact. The fun is to figure out how to cook everything you want in whatever space you've got.

I made these from your new book and my favorite part is the sesame crunch. I've been thinking of other cookie recipes where I could use it. It's so simple and good I have to stop myself from continually making it and just eating it as-is.

I'm delighted that you liked the cookies and loved the crunch - it's my favorite part, too.

By the way, there's nothing wrong with eating the crunch as is (I say this from experience), but why not try adding it to a tender cake batter?  I've never tried this, but I'm liking the idea of the crunch popping up here and there in a yellow cake.  Or in madeleines.  Or in pound cake.  Or in sablés.

Let me know what you do with the crunch next time.

Last year you had a recipe for a large chocolate heart cookie. Is that recipe still available? I want to make it for my niece next week.

Here you go - hope that you and your niece love it!

Dorie Greenspan's Share-My-Heart Cookies

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Share-My-Heart Cookies

I don't have tartlet pans -- would a muffin top pan work? Or is the recipe sufficient for one average 8-9" tart pan?

I think you'd be okay making the recipe in a muffin-top pan.

If you make a 9-inch tart, you should make about 2 1/2 times the ganache recipe; you can keep the proportions for the crust.

Received your new cookie cookbook (say that fast 3 times) and can't stop reading it - It is absolutely gorgeous, but I must confess. I haven't had time to make a single recipe, so can you recommend some good-to-start ones? I know, like asking a mom of many to pick a favorite child. My sister sent me the book, and she is also baking-time-challenged, so I'd also like to beat her to the punch and tell her what I've made (aren't I awful?)

I'm so glad that you're loving Dorie's Cookies (easier to say than my new cookie cookbook :)!

The fastest, easiest recipe to make in the book is probably the Almond Crackles. I make this cookie all the time because it's so wonderfully wonderful.  And so quick: by the time the oven comes to temperature, the cookies are ready to bake.  Enjoy!

Cake pops or cake truffles have been popular at the birthday parties we've been to for kids and adults. And you can make them GF in case anyone has any allergies. Either use colored candy melts or colorful sprinkles to keep with the color theme.

Thanks for this good suggestion.

Wifi, wine, corkscrew, who needs more?

Don't think I haven't had the same thought!

Thanks for the advice on making one big chocolate tart -- I was just about to ask that very question! Here's another one: How long will the tart (or tartlets) keep in the fridge?

I wouldn't keep them in the fridge more than 1 day, but here's good news: They freeze perfectly. Get them frozen solid on a baking sheet and then wrap them airtight.

Hi Dorie, I need to make a double batch of brownies for my son's birthday, in lieu of cake. Do I double everything exactly, including eggs and baking soda?

I'd double directly. Happy Birthday party!

After you mentioned her in your cookie book I bought a copy of her book. It's an interesting read because she assumes her readers know how to do things. For example: for one of the appetizers she says, "Make a thick cream sauce." Is that a hot sauce or cold or what? I don't have the cookbook at hand so I can't be specific as to the recipe. It really makes me appreciate your books even more. I just plain enjoy reading them. Your voice comes through.

Thank you so much for your sweet words about my work and my books. 

I'm glad you bought a copy of Helen Corbitt's book. I think it's a fascinating read - you're right, she assumes that her readers know a lot about cooking and baking.  Her recipe writing reminds me a lot of the recipes I find in French cookbooks.

Love those biscuits. Another use for cottage cheese? From the 70s, Dilly Cheese bread. Wonderful as rolls for sandwiches. Freezes well. Thanks, so appreciate your words of wisdom. Good luck as you settle in.

Hi - I'm planning to send (via overnight or two day mail) a care package to my mother for Valentines Day and would like to include homemade cookies. What travels well? They don't need to be red or pink or heart shaped, fwiw. Thanks!

Bar cookies and shortbread are great shippers, as are everyone's favorite chocolate chip cookies. Hope Mom enjoys them!

My son is in Chile and off grid. So, if I send him some cookies I don't know how long they will sit around until there is a delivery to his remote location any suggestions?

Love 'stand the test of time'.  Shortbread are great shippers and keepers and who doesn't love them!

Hi Dorrie! I want to make a king cake for Mardi Gras this year, but every recipe I have tried has been heavy. Do you have a recipe for a version that's not so dense?

Sadly, King's Cake is not really a light dessert. Most of the cakes consist of two rounds of puff pastry sandwiching frangipane.  The recipe shouldn't be heavy, but it's certainly rich.  (The true goodness of the cake is in the goodness of the puff pastry.)

The Poilâne bakery in Paris, makes a galettes des rois/king's cake that they say is a recreation of the original: it's two layers of puff pastry but no filling - just the traditional trinket. This might be an idea for you.

And here are a few recipes from the files:

King Babka Cake

RECIPE: King Babka Cake

King's Cake

RECIPE: King's Cake

King Cake

RECIPE: King Cake

Boy this hour went quickly!

Merci for all the good questions and good answers.  And another merci for taking me away from the boxes!

"See" you in 2 weeks.

In the meantime:

Cook, bake, share, enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day - xoDorie 

In This Chat
Dorie Greenspan
Dorie Greenspan is the award-winning author of 11 cookbooks, the most recent of which is "Baking Chez Moi." Read more on her Web site,, and follow her on Twitter: @doriegreenspan.
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