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Fresh raspberries adorn the top of each heart-shaped Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Tart. Photo by Sue Doeden

It will be love at first bite with these Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Tarts

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On stage recently, speaking before a crowd of 350 food lovers and writers at a literary seminar exploring food in literature, Ruth Reichl said, "Love comes through the palate."

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An author and former restaurant critic, Reichl was most recently the last editor of the late, great Gourmet magazine. Her statement struck me and I jotted it down in my Moleskine notebook.

After giving her words some thought, I've developed my own statement, "Love, infused into food by the hands that prepare it, comes through the palate."

No matter how easy or complicated the preparation process, food has always been my way of showing that I care. Before we were married, the simple bacon sandwiches I made for my future husband to eat on our morning bus rides to a summer French class made him smile. He probably didn't know it, but my love was coming through his palate.

Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Tarts are a delicious, uncomplicated way to share your love with friends and family members.

First, buttery dough that melts in your mouth like rich shortbread gets patted into a tart pan. No need to worry about a pastry that must be rolled out. Heart-shaped mini-tart pans with removable bottoms are what I use to make six individual sized desserts.

Next, a fudgy mixture of chocolate morsels melted with butter is spread over the baked and cooled tart shell. It's the same formula I use to frost my favorite brownies. The chocolate lends just enough flavor to let you know it's there, but it does not overpower the fluffy whipped cream cheese layer that is spiked with Chambord, a raspberry-flavored liqueur made in France. If you'd rather not use Chambord, try adding a tiny splash of raspberry extract with a drop or two of red food coloring.

Fresh raspberries dot the top of each tart. When dusted with powdered sugar, these tarts become food that could tempt angels from the heavens.

Notice the smiles, hear the swoons and watch the looks of sheer pleasure as your love comes through the palates of your lucky family and friends.

Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Tarts

Pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

2 egg yolks, beaten

3 tablespoons cold water

Chocolate layer:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

3 tablespoons butter

Raspberry Cream:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1 cup sifted powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting

1/3 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon Chambord

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dash of red food coloring, optional

12 ounces fresh raspberries

Measure flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mix. Add small pieces of thoroughly chilled butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. You will see tiny bits of butter in the mixture. Add egg yolks and cold water and pulse until mixture begins to hold together. Remove dough from food processor and form into a ball. Flatten slightly and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 6 equal pieces. Refrigerate pieces of dough while working with one piece at a time. Use fingers to press dough into 6 small tart pans with removable bottoms. Prick bottom and sides of each tart shell with the tines of a fork. Place tart pans on baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer tart pans to wire rack to cool completely.

For chocolate layer, melt chocolate morsels and 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until mixture is smooth. Spoon chocolate into cooled tart shells, spreading to cover the bottom. Set aside.

Make Raspberry Cream by beating cream cheese and 1 cup powdered sugar at medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add whipping cream , Chambord and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Spoon cream cheese mixture over chocolate in tart shells.

Arrange raspberries over the top of each tart. Cover tarts and chill thoroughly. At serving time, dust each tart with powdered sugar. Makes 6 small tarts or 1 large tart.

Tips from the cook

--If you don't have a food processor, mix pastry with a pastry blender or two knives.

--A 9- or 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom can be used to make one large tart.

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