I recently designed a menu for a dear friend’s gourmet group.

I carefully thought out a theme for the evening, poured over the intricacies of the ingredients, and paired each course with a lovely wine.

I cooked for the group ~ AND I wined and dined them.

The evening was absolutely amazing and quite a treat for me. An honor, really.

Following several (if not more) glamorous sips and a healthy savory serving, the gourmet group guests were presented with my collateral “treat.”

You see, as I accepted the gift of nourishing all 14 of their divine souls, the reciprocation came not only in the form of dinner…but also dessert.

Lemon Macadamia Tartlettes
Lemon Ginger Chocolate Ganache
Candied Lemon Twists

2 cups raw macadamia nuts
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, finely shredded
8 large Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a large food processor. Process until mostly smooth, scraping down the sides when necessary.
Transfer the nut mix to a plastic wrap lined baking sheet and smooth out into one large “crust” using the flat edge of a spatula.
Chill for 30-60 minutes, until “set.”
Using a round cookie cutter or the top of a glass jar, cut out tartlette rounds.
Transfer the rounds to a wax paper or parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze for 2-3 hours, until hard.

Lemon Ginger Chocolate Ganache:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.
Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let stand until chocolate has softened, about 5 minutes.
Add butter, lemon juice, ginger, and salt, and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly before using.

Candied Lemon Twists:
2 large lemons, scrubbed well
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbs. white sugar, divided

Using a serrated vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the lemons in long, vertical strips ~ leaving as much of the bitter white pith on the fruit as possible.
Reserve the lemons for another use.
Cut the peels into thin, delicate slices.
Place the peels in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds.
Drain in a colander.
Repeat ~ this removes the bitterness of the pith, but also lessens the lemon flavor intensity. For a stronger lemon flavor, boil twice. For a mellower taste, boil three times.
While draining the peels, bring 2 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups sugar to a boil. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Add the peels and reduce to a simmer, for about 60 minutes.
Strain the peels, reserving the lemon simple syrup for another use (think yummy cocktails).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the peels out in an even layer on the parchment. Let the peels cool for about 15 minutes till tacky to the touch.
Dip the peels into the remaining sugar, tossing until coated. Sugar coating the peels will add sweetness and help to keep them from sticking together.
Place the peels back on the parchment. Let them dry for 2-3 hours.

Assembly and Presentation:
Spread a dollop of ganache over each mini tartlette crust.
Garnish with candied lemon twists, along with crystallized ginger, if desired.

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