Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t… Little did Peter Paul Halajian know thousands of people would be singing that little ditty about his products. It was almost 26 years after the introduction of the Mounds Bar when the Almond Joy Bar was introduced. It was a replacement for the Dream Bar which was similar in make up to the Almond Joy. An interesting factoid : the Almond Joy was introduced more than 20 years after the death of Peter Paul. And a few more interesting tidbits:
In the song Gett Off, by Prince, he sings “Strip your dress down like I was strippin’ a Peter Paul’s Almond Joy.”
In the HBO series Weeds, Almond Joy was the favorite candy of Nancy’s late husband, Judah.
One of the Allman Brothers early band names was the Allman Joys.
And sad but true, the Peter Paul Company is no longer in business-Almond Joys are now produced by Hershey’s .
Almond Joy Tart
Yield: Six 4inch individual tarts
For the Almond Tart Dough
1 large egg1/4 cup whole toasted almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ( 1 stick ) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
For the Coconut Filling
8 ounces good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut ( if you are coconut obsessed, go ahead and use 2 1/4 cups)
1 tablespoon light rum
For the Chocolate Glaze and Garnish
2 ounces good quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces good quality dark chocolate ( 60-72% ), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 whole toasted almonds
Make the Almond Tart Dough
In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg and set it aside.
Put the almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground. Add flour and salt and pulse again just until mixed. Add the butter and pulse until sandy ( about 6 to 10 quick pulses). Pour in the egg and pulse just until the dough begins to cohere into a ball. Form the dough into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Make the Coconut Cream Filling
Place the white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, heat the cream just to a boil. Pour it over the white chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Slowly, starting in the center of the bowl, whisk the cream and white chocolate until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the ganache for 4 hours or overnight before proceeding.
Assemble the Tart
Dust a work surface with flour. Place the disk of chilled dough on the work surface and divide it into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a smooth disk. (Note: The dough will be sticky. Make sure to turn it with a bench knife or offset spatula as needed and keep the working surface floured.) Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a 5 1/2 inch circle just over 1/8 inch thick. Very gently press each dough round into a 4 inch tart pan with removable bottom.
Place the tart pans in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line the tart crusts with aluminum foil, and fill each one three-quarters full with pie weights or dried beans. Bake them for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer the tart pans to a wire rack to cool.
Make the Coconut Cream Filling
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the white chocolate ganache at medium speed until soft peaks form. Do not over whip. Gently fold in the coconut and the rum. Divide the filling evenly among the cooled tart shells and place them in the refrigerator while you make the chocolate glaze.
Make the Chocolate Glaze
Place the milk and dark chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it is just about to boil. Pour it over the chocolates and whisk to combine. Let the mixture set for about 10 minutes. Remove the tarts from the refrigerator and spoon the glaze evenly over each one. Top each tart with one almond and refrigerate again until the glaze sets up, about 10 minutes.
The tarts can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Baked Note: It would seem that a chocolate tart crust would be the perfect shell for a riff on the Almond Joy, but it fell short during many tests and trials. The chocolate overwhelmed the coconut, and somehow it just felt entirely contrived.
You won’t regret trying this recipe, the only regret will be you can’t stop eating them ! Happy New Year everyone.
Excerpted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2010 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.