Variations on a chocolate tart.
Because I’ve been asked for this recipe and I thought I should try to increase my food blogging (yes, yes, because I’m so good about blogging everything else). What this is, is a very robust, hard to screw up, incidentally-gluten-free* chocolate tart. The pastry shell is based on a 17th-century “pye” recipe and uses only nuts, egg white and a little sugar, which I got from Ann Willan’s Look & Cook Perfect Pies and Tarts
*Incidental, because there are no substitutions made– the recipe has no gluten and none of the usual starch substitutes, eg. potato flour, gluten-free flour, gram flour, etc.
The base recipe is this (below the cut):
200g of whole, shelled nuts (hazelnuts and almond both work).
60g of caster sugar
1 egg white
275g dark chocolate, chopped into little bits
375g double cream
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk.
In a blender, blitz the nuts and sugar until they’re ground pretty fine, but there are still some crunchy bits for texture.
Variation1 – I’ve used almonds (tried and tasted, good result), hazelnuts with a tsp of cinnamon (tried and tasted, good result), hazelnuts and mixed spices (not tried, but might be good for winter, sort of lebkuchen-ish), almonds, walnuts & cardamon? (not tried but it’s a classic combination. Maybe a little bitter?), almond or hazelnuts and nutmeg (not tried, but it’s nutmeg, so it’s good by default).
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg-white until frothy, then stir in the nut & sugar mixture until it’s all incorporated. Shape it into a rough ball, wrap it in cling film and slightly flatten it, and put it in the fridge for half an hour.
Meanwhile, butter a 23cm fluted pie dish and put the a baking trap in the oven and preheat to 190C.
Take the pastry out of the fridge. It’s too sticky to properly roll, but you can flatten it– use a rolling pin and flatten it out as much as you can. I tend to do this on the cling it went into the oven in, so that I can more easily flip it over into the pie dish.
Now, using either a cold metal spoon dipped in water or your hand, press the crust into the pie dish. I usually start with the spoon, then use my fingers to make sure it’s properly in the corner and covering the sides. It will look slightly rustic, but that suits the crunch texture of the crust.
Put it in the preheated oven on the baking tray for 10-15 minutes, until it’s started just starting to brown and it feels drier, less sticky. No need to chill it again (or prick the base or weigh it down). Now take it out of the oven and leave it to cool on a wire wrack.
Put the finely chopped chocolate in a medium-sized bowl.
Variation 2 – all untried, but you could use flavoured chocolate (like Green & Blacks Maya), or you could add something to the chocolate here (ground ginger, for example)
In a heavy based saucepan, over a low to medium heat, bring the cream just to the boil. Pour over the hot chocolate and stir (with a spoon or whisk), until it’s thoroughly mixed.
Variation 3 – Fresh mint (tried and tasted, good)– roughly tear a large bunch of fresh mint and put it in the saucepan with the cream. Bring just to the boil, then take off the heat and leave covered for at least 15 minutes to infuse, then put back on the stove and bring just to the boil again. Strain the cream over the hot chocolate with a metal sieve. Other options (not tried, but I think they’d all work), you could try infusing with cardamon, cinnamon or even fresh basil or just adding a tbsp of kahlua or brandy. One thing, if you are infusing with something leafy, you might want to be a little more generous with the cream, since they seem to trap a lot, even when you squeeze them out pretty thoroughly. I used abut 75ml extra when I was infusing with mint.
In another medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolk together. When the chocolate mixture is tepid, pour into the eggs and stir thoroughly to combine.
Pour into the pastry shell and put in the oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until it’s set on the outside, but the centre still feels soft.
Take out and let cool. Just to note, the surface of the chocolate isn’t 100% smooth– it’s slightly rough and you might notice a few microbubbles with (as far as I can tell) oil– possibly from the nuts, but maybe from the chocolate or even the cream. I just lay a piece of kitchen towel on the top to soak them up. It fits in with the slightly rustic feel of the pie and the crunchy base, but if you don’t like the look if it…
Variation 4- … you can decorate the surface with chocolate leaves. Melt about 100g of chocolate (white looks good, or you could do a mix), take some (non-toxic) leaves– rose leaves work very well. Brush the underside with melted chocolate and leave to set. When they’ve set, peel off the leave and arrange on the top of the chocolate tart. Or you could sift icing sugar on the top, or cocoa powder, or put chocolate curls over.