It’s no secret that I’m stuck in an ongoing
argument battle debate about the greatness of chocolate over vanilla. Why more people don’t come to the dark side, I’ll never understand. After all, we have chocolate. (Side note: If you’re here for healthy January food, you probably want to click away now. I’m an “everything in moderation” girl, which means I like my veggies and refuse to give up dessert in January.)
Back in November, I celebrated “Friendsgiving” with some of my girlfriends. We had such a good time (and so much good food) that we decided to do it again a month later and call it Christmas. :) (Plus, this gave us a chance to redeem ourselves – we left our husbands at home for Friendsgiving, and Andy wasn’t going to let me forget it.) Since I’d appeased the vanilla crowd with creme brulee in November, I knew that I had to go dark for Christmas. Dark and rich. 11 ounces of chocolate dark. More than 1 1/2 cups of cream rich. Cook’s Illustrated simply calls this a “rich chocolate tart,” and they aren’t kidding. It was phenomenal, if you’re into over-the-top chocolate things.
To make things easier (this is a CI recipe, after all), I made the crust Friday night, made the filling and baked the tart Saturday morning, and then glazed it right before we left for dinner Saturday night. Other than cheating a bit on the final chilling time, I followed the recipe to the letter. I was slightly concerned that I overbaked the crust, but it turned out just fine.
We served it with whipped cream, and the 10 of us ate about three quarters of the tart Saturday night, even after we’d stuffed ourselves on turkey, stuffing, two kinds of potatoes, green bean casserole, salad and cranberry sauce. :) Of course, that meant that someone had to step up and eat the leftover tart the next day. We all have to make sacrifices, right? ;)
Rich Chocolate Tart
for the crust:
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 /4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 cup (5 ounces) AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
for the filling:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used the CI recommended Ghirardelli 60% cacao baking bar.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and softened
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
for the glaze:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot water
whipped cream, optional
First, prepare the crust. Beat the egg yolk and the cream together in a small bowl. In a food processor, process the almonds and the sugar until the almonds are finely ground. Add the flour and salt, then pulse briefly to combine. Put the butter chunks to the food processor, then pulse the mixture until the butter is cut in and the mixture looks like coarse meal. (CI says it will take about 15 pulses, but I didn’t pay attention to how long it took.) With the food processor running, add the egg/cream mixture and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Place the dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap and roll it out into a 6″ disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, but still workable. (If you refrigerate it overnight, like I did, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up so it’s workable before rolling it out.)
When you’re ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom with non-stick cooking spray. Roll the dough into an 11″ circle between two sheets of plastic wrap. Keep the dough between the plastic and slide it onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and peel off the top piece of plastic wrap. Leave the dough on the baking sheet and invert the tart pan on top of the dough. Press the tart pan down hard enough to cut the dough. Pick up the baking sheet and invert the tart pan onto the counter. Remove the baking sheet and peel off the remaining piece of plastic wrap. Reserve the remaining piece of plastic wrap.
Roll a rolling pin over the edges of the now-right-side-up tart pan, cutting through any remaining dough. Reserve the scraps. Roll the dough scraps into ropes that are 3/4″ thick.Press the ropes of dough onto the sides of the tart pan. Line the tart pan with the plastic wrap that you saved, and using the bottom of a measuring cup, gently press the dough into an even thickness all the way around the sides of the pan. Trim off any remaining scraps of dough that hang over the edges and remove the plastic wrap. Put the tart pan and baking sheet in the freezer and freezer until firm, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan and baking sheet from the freezer. Cut a 12″ piece of aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. Press the foil, oiled side down, onto the surface of the tart, and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake until dough is dry and light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time. Carefully remove the foil and pie weights, and then return the pan to the oven and bake until the pastry is rich golden brown, about 8 to 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack.
While your crust is cooling, prepare your filling. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, espresso powder and salt. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream mixture over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, then gently stir the mixture with a whisk until it is smooth. (Try not to whisk too hard, as this will incorporate air into the filling, which leads to little air bubbles on the surface of the tart. On the other hand, you’re going to cover the tart with glaze, so no one will be the wiser if you get carried away with the whisk.) Add the butter and continue to whisk until the butter melts.
Set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl of chocolate. Pour the beaten eggs through the strainer and whisk until the mixture comes together and becomes glossy. Pour the filling into the baked crust. Gently shake the mixture to evenly distribute the filling. Use a toothpick to poke any air bubbles that make their way to the surface.
Bake the tart on a baking sheet until the outer edge of the filling appears set, with very faint cracks in the surface, about 30-35 minutes. (The filling will still be wobbly when it’s done.) Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, until filling is chilled and set, at least three hours. (I rushed this, since it took me longer than I had expected to bake the crust.)
Remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you’re ready to glaze the tart. (Don’t ask me why. This is another one of CI’s extra steps that I don’t get.) Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate to the cream mixture. Let the chocolate stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until combined. When the mixture is smooth, whisk in the hot water until the glaze is smooth and pourable. Working quickly, pour the glaze over the tart. Tilt the tart back and forth to spread the glaze over the surface. Let the tart stand for at least one hour before serving. Cut into wedges and garnish with whipped cream, if desired.
From Cook’s Illustrated, November/December 2013
Click here for a printable version.