The holiday season had me in a cooking, baking, and traveling frenzy. In fact, I’m writing this from my sister-in-law’s cozy Brooklyn apartment. We’ve just planned our New Year’s Eve dinner featuring homemade tortillas. (More to come on that of course!)
I’m finally getting around to sharing a few pictures from our Paris adventures and catching up on some of the recipes I concocted in the kitchen. In November, we spent four days in Paris kicking off our season of glutton and getting ourselves into the holiday spirit. We stayed in a quaint hotel on the right bank, enjoyed mulled wine while strolling the Christmas Village on the Champs Elysees, window shopped on Haussmann, and stopped for many delightful espressos to warm up from the cold. Most of our trip was focused on the food and drink. Pain au chocolat, wine, pate, duck, oysters, bone marrow, calvados, cognac – it was an indulgent weekend.
When we returned from Paris, we were busy with holiday parties and planning for our trip back home for the holidays. I, like many others, equate the holidays with baking. My cookie baking was reigned in this year since we did not ship cookies from Morocco to our family and friends in the US, but I did do plenty of baking. One of my favorite and go-to dessert recipes is the decadent Chocolate Tart that follows. It’s a combination of a Chocolate Glazed Tart Recipe from Gourmet magazine and Tyler Florence’s Chocolate Tart. More importantly, the recipe is basically fool proof and it presents beautifully. It’s like a roasted rack of lamb—super decadent and impressive, but relatively easy to prepare. I made this tart for a Thanksgiving potluck but it works well for any dinner party, travels well, and is the perfect make-ahead dessert. Topped with some fresh whipped cream, it is a crowd pleaser for chocolate-lovers of all ages. It’s fancy enough for your New Year’s Eve Dinner soiree and chill enough for a bowl game party.
ALL OCCASION CHOCOLATE TART
For the tart shell:
8 tablespoons (113 g) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I usually cut the butter and stick it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (160g) all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
2-4 tablespoons of ice water
For the chocolate filling:
1 cup (236 ml) heavy cream
½ cup (118 ml) milk
10 ounces (~283g) good bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cognac or pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon freshly grated orange rind (optional)
Place the butter, sugar, flour and egg yolk in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture reaches a grainy consistency. As Anne Burrell puts it, it will look like Parmesan Cheese. You can also do this in the bowl of a food processor by pulsing the ingredients for 45 seconds or so. Once the dough reaches this consistency, add about half of the ice water and pulse again or combine with the pastry cutter until the dough starts to come together. The dough is ready when you when you squeeze a small amount of the dough in your hand and it stays together. When you reach this point, bring the dough together, knead it lightly 2-3 times with cold hands, then roll the dough into a large ball. Dust the dough lightly with flour, wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface. The dough should be about ¼ inch or ½ cm thick. Lay the dough into a tart pan and push the dough up the sides of the pan lightly with your fingers. Prick the dough lightly with a fork several times, then cover the dough with foil. Place the tart pan with the dough in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F or 220C.
Then, remove the dough from the freezer, and place pie weights or about 2 cups of dried beans into the shell and place the pan into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights or beans, and bake for another 3 minutes. The dough should be only lightly golden. Let the tart shell cool.
Turn the oven down to 325F or 163C. While the tart shell is cooling, make the filling. Heat the cream and milk over in a small saucepan over low heat just until it barely comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring lightly with a rubber spatula until it is just melted.
Whisk in the sugar, salt, and vanilla/cognac. Whisk in the eggs and rind, if using, until just combined. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for 20-25 minutes. The filling should jiggle lightly. If you see any bubbles forming take the tart out immediately or it will be over done. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. Tart can be made in advance and refrigerated overnight.
Slice and serve! I love this tart alone, with a little vanilla ice cream, a fruit syrup, or some freshly whipped cream!