I thought I'd try to squeeze one last recipe into 2009. It's a tart. A sweet one. The little black dress of my tart repertoire - bittersweet chocolate with a thin brown sugar crust. I thought about doing a boozy version or a spiced version, as a holiday send-off, but in the end kept it simple. The filling is a dark chocolate ganache, the consistency of thick frosting, set off by the crispness of the crust. I hope you all have a great New Year Eve, and I'll see you in (gasp) 2010!
A few notes related to the tart. Be sure to read the head notes as well as the entire recipe before you get started. Tart recipes involving pastry can look scarier than they actually are, but you do have to plan ahead a bit. Once you're in the thick of it, this pastry dough is quite forgiving, you can patch up holes, pinch together fissures, and even re-roll if you have to. The only tricky thing with this particular tart dough is that it is thin in the pan size I call for - don't try to roll it out to a 10-inch pan. If you're worried, instead of making two tart shells, use all of the dough for one, and use any leftover dough for a few smaller tarts or a bunch of little cookies. :)
Bittersweet Chocolate Tart
This dough recipe will make two, thin 9-inch tart shells. I usually make use one shell, and freeze one, unbaked, for future use. The recipe makes enough filling for one tart. If you don't have whole wheat pastry flour, you can use unbleached all purpose flour, that is fine. If all you have is white sugar, that is fine as well. I was thinking an alternative crust might be 1 cup APF + 3/4 cup spelt flour, but I haven't tried it yet. Be sure to sift your sugar for this tart shell, any big clumps of sugar turn into sugar puddles in your crust - no good. Roll out any extra dough and stamp into 1/8-inch thick cookies - they're great for ice cream sandwiches, or dunked in melted chocolate.
1/2 cup + 1 T / 4.5 oz / 130g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / 75g natural cane sugar, muscovado, or brown sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cup / 8 oz / 225g whole wheat pastry flour
scant cup / 225 ml heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons milk
7 ounces / 200g 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 large egg, beaten
flaky sea salt, cocoa powder
equipment: two 9-inch tart pans (or equivalent).
Start by making the tart dough. Use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment to cream the butter, sugar and salt until well combined. Alternately, you can do this by hand. Add the egg and mix until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple times along the way. Add the flour and pulse the mixer on and off, low speed, until the dough comes together and has a moist appearance. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, shape each into a ball, press into 1/2-inch thick disks, and wrap in plastic, or place in baggies. Chill for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C. Place a rack in the middle of the oven.
When you are ready to line the tart pans with dough, place one of the dough disks on a lightly floured surface and roll out until the dough is large enough to line your tart pan. I usually eyeball it - you can see in the photo the dough is about 1/6 - 1/8 inch thick. Dust underneath with flour to discourage sticking throughout the rolling process. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan. Don't worry too much if you get a tear or hole, you can patch those up later with scraps. Work quickly to ease the dough into place, taking care not to stretch the dough. Press it along the bottom of the pan, out to the walls, and against the sides. Trim any excess dough - I use the palm of my hand against the edge of the tart pan to cut off any extra dough, alternately you can roll a rolling pin across the rim of the pan for a clean edge. It should look like the second photo up above. Chill in the refrigerator for thirty minutes more while you roll out your extra tart shell. Double wrap that one in plastic and freeze it for future use.
You're going to partially bake the tart shell before filling it, so pull the shell out of the refrigerator, dock it with a fork, making small holes along the bottom of the shell - see photo. Line the shell with parchment paper and fill to the rim with pie weights or dried beans, bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and finish baking for another 6 - 8 minutes, or until the crust is dry and just barely starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Make the chocolate filling by bringing the cream and milk to a gentle simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, add the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture smooth. Let cool five minutes, add the egg, and whisk until completely blended. If the chocolate is too hot, you're going to scramble the egg, be cautious.
Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake for about 15 minutes, give or take a couple minutes. The filling should be set around the edges a bit darker than the center in color. The center will be a touch jiggly, that's o.k. I baked this tart in a slightly smaller/deeper tart pan and it took longer than its wider, shallower 9-inch counterpart. Just keep an eye on things.
Let the tart cool completely, preferably in the pan on a cooling rack. Dust with a bit of cocoa powder, and sprinkle with touch of flakey sea salt. You can serve at room temperature or chilled - it's easier to slice when it's chilled.
Serves 8 - 10.
Prep time: 120 minutes - Cook time: 30 minutes