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~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~

IMG_2612Don't look now but the season of holiday entertaining and festive gatherings is quickly approaching.  If you're like me, you're always "in the market" for another elegant yet easy-to-make dessert to serve at your own get-together or take to someone else's.  A chocolate tart is a perfect ending to any occasion, and, in the case of this recipe, it doesn't require the skills of a trained pastry chef -- feel free to keep that a secret and let 'em think you slaved all day over it.

IMG_2583"Tarte au Chocolate" -- No special skills required.

A chocolate tart, or as they say in France "tarte au chocolat", is a chocolate lovers dream come true.  Happily, it's not as fussy to prepare as you might think.  Classically, the French pour a relatively easy-to-make chocolate filling into a crispy, delicate, very-buttery pastry shell. Sometimes they top it with a glaze, sometimes they dust it with Confectioners' sugar, and sometimes it's dollops of freshly whipped cream that gilds the lily.  Over the years, I've taken a liking to chocolate tarts that are prepared with a sweetened cookie-esque pastry.

IMG_2597Part One:  Making My Three-Ingredient Tart Shell 

IMG_0915We bakers all have our favorite recipe for pâte brisée, and pâte sucrée (unsweetened and sweetened recipes for flaky quiche and pie pastry).  I know I do.  Some folks simply purchase pie pastry and I am neither going to judge nor criticize. What happens in your kitchen stays in your kitchen. Just remember: Whether making it from scratch or taking it out of a box, it's got to be rolled enough to fit into the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom.

That said, I have a nifty little three-ingredient-recipe that is so easy-to-make you'd have to be crazy to use a store-bought crust.  Technically, it's in a category all its own and the fancy French word for it is pâte sablée.  Literally translated, it means "sand dough", because it has a coarse sand-like texture when mixed together.  It is so sandy, it gets dumped into a tart pan and pressed into place because, unlike a pie pastry, it's next-to-impossible to roll and impossible to pick up and move after rolling.  It produces a cookie-like crust, which makes it perfect for sweet tarts.    In my version, I melt some butter in the microwave, stir it into a mixture of flour and sugar, then pat and press it into the tart pan -- that's all there is to it.  It bakes up perfect each and every time.

IMG_2413For one 11" tart crust:

10 tablespoons salted butter (1 stick + 2 tablespoons) (Note:  If you choose to use unsalted butter, which a lot of bakers do, stir a scant 1/8 tablespoon salt into the flour and sugar mixture.)

2  cups + 3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

5  tablespoons granulated sugar (1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon)

IMG_2415IMG_2417IMG_2423IMG_2424~Step 1.  In a 1-cup measuring container, melt butter in microwave.  In a medium bowl, using a fork, stir together the flour and sugar.  In a thin stream add the butter to the dry mixture, stirring constantly with the fork, until all the butter is added.  The mixture will resemble pea-sized crumbs that come together when a few small bits are pressed together with the fingertips.

IMG_2428IMG_2432Step 2.  Transfer all of the loose crumb mixture to the bottom of an 11" tart pan.  Using your fingertips, pat and press the mixture evenly but firmly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Note:  Feel free to use a small hand-held tart roller if you have one (like the one pictured above), but it is not necessary.  Place on center rack of 340°-350º oven and bake until crust is a very light golden brown, 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool the crust while preparing the tart filling.

IMG_2433Part Two:  Making My Ultra-Rich Chocolate Tart Filling

IMG_2638Let's talk chocolate.  Just like politics and religion, it's a topic that stirs people up.  Let's suffice it to say, it's personal.  As a young bride and novice baker, semi-sweet chocolate morsels were what I used to make a chocolate tart and no one ever complained.  After years of side-by-side taste tests combined with making and baking plenty of chocolate desserts, I settled on Lindt as my hands-down favorite chocolate.  Whatever you choose, it will work perfectly in this recipe.  

IMG_536814  ounces high-quality dark chocolate, preferably 70% - 85% cacao, chopped into small pieces

2  cups heavy or whipping cream

3  large eggs, at room temp

2  teaspoons pure red raspberry or vanilla extract

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

Note:  To make 1, 10"-round tart, use: 9  ounces chocolate, 1 1/4 cups cream, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon extract and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

IMG_5372IMG_5378Step 1.  Chop the chocolate as directed and place in a large heatproof bowl.

Step 2.  In a small saucepan on the stovetop (or in the microwave), heat the cream until steaming, but not boiling.  Do not allow to simmer or boil.

IMG_5385IMG_5394Step 3.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and set aside, without stirring, for 2 minutes.

Note:  I always time this.  Two minutes is the magic number.

IMG_5381IMG_5396IMG_5402IMG_5403~Steps 4, 5 & 6.  During the two minute wait time, in a 1-cup measuring container, using a fork, whisk together the eggs, extract and salt.  Set aside.  After the two minute wait time, using a wire whisk, vigorously stir the chocolate and cream, until all of the cream is drawn into the chocolate and the mixture is smooth, uniform in color and shiny.  Whisking constantly, slowly and in a thin stream, slowly incorporate the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture.

IMG_2541 IMG_2544 IMG_2551 IMG_2557 IMG_2562~Step 7.  Place the tart shell on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Transfer all of the chocolate filling to the prepared tart pastry.  Bake on center rack of 325° oven until filling is slightly puffed up and just set while still wobbly in the center, about 16-18 minutes.

IMG_2567~ Step 8.  Remove from oven and place the baking pan (with the tart on it) on a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, remove the tart from the baking pan and place it on the wire rack to cool completely, about 2 more hours.  When the tart is completely cooled, remove the sides of the pan and place it on a serving platter.  Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve chilled -- the choice is yours.

Remove sides of pan & place on a plate:

IMG_2572Dust w/Confectioners' sugar or dollops of whipped cream:

IMG_2600Slice & serve at room temperature or chilled:

IMG_2622Simply Divine:  Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat):  Recipe yields 10-12 servings.

Special Equipment List:  11" tart pan; 1-cup measuring container; fork; hand-held tart roller (optional); wire cooling rack; cutting board; chef's knife; whisk; large rubber spatula; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper

PICT0391Cook's Note:  Besides a great tart pastry, every cook needs a great pie pastry recipe too. My recipe for ~ Making Pâte Brisée:  Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~, can be found in Categories 6, 15 or 22.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)


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