let them eat tarts

>> July 18, 2009

it just so happened that my first real "baking club" entry was due the week of bastille day. given my current francophile leanings, i was thrilled. i took this as the perfect opportunity tackle the previously-feared pie crust, and while it was an ooey-gooey experience, i was pretty impressed with the results.

i used a recipe from patricia wells, reprinted by the new york times. the original article ran on july 31, 1988, 2 months after the most glorious day on which i entered the world. it was fate, and who am i to mess with that?

the crust was a lot stickier than i had thought it would be, perhaps due to the fact that i had to use earth balance vegan buttery sticks instead of the impossibly-good french buerre i'm sure the original relied upon. i made the crust on sunday night. i basically had to rearrange the entire fridge to fit the two pans in there to chill over night, and i was worried about the whole "removable bottom" tart pan thing messing up the dough if bumped. i stacked them with a wooden cutting board between, which solved that problem.

i had to make 2 tarts to meet the 30-person baking club requirement, so splurging on the $10 for 4 ounces of ridiculously good chocolate from whole foods was out of the question. the ghirardeli bittersweet baking nibs worked out great and fit the budget much better. i covered one with sliced almonds before baking it, and left the other plain to be allergy-friendly.

the best part about recipes that require tempering chocolate is that it is impossible to get every bit out of the bowl. getting to stick my face into the chocolate-coated bowl takes me back to my childhood when i'd barely let the beaters stop spinning before i licked them clean of mom's magical brownie-batter. raw eggs, you don't scare me.

while i didn't win the challenge (derek's "gorilla bread" -- a monkey bread variation using cream cheese that was well worth the stomach ache i got after eating it... you think i'd learn that simply insisting that i'm not lactose intolerant does not actually make it true), i really liked my tarts and am no longer scared of crust! thanks, patricia wells!

Tarte Au Chocolat Amer (Bitter-Chocolate Tart)
adapted from The New York Times

for the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 small egg, lightly beaten

for the filling:
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, perferably Lindt or Tobler
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar, for garnish
(1/2 cup sliced almonds)

To prepare the pastry:
Place the flour, salt, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. Add the egg and pulse just until the pastry begins to hold together, about nine times. The dough will be very soft and supple, like a cookie dough. Turn the pastry into a 10 1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using a spatula, and working quickly, evenly distribute the dough in the pan. (i covered the pastry with wax paper and used my fingers to press it in... it will stick. be careful.) To avoid problems with shrinkage as the pastry bakes, build the dough a bit higher than the height of the pan. Prick the bottom of the shell with the tines of a fork. Chill, uncovered, for one hour (or overnight, covered with plastic wrap).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line the shell loosely with aluminum foil, pressing well into the edges. Fill with weights of rice or beans -making sure you get all the way into the edges - to prevent shrinkage. Bake just until the pastry begins to brown around the edges and seems firm enough to stand up by itself, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking until the pastry is lightly and evenly browned, about 10 more minutes. Watch the pastry carefully, for ovens vary tremendously and pastry can brown very quickly. Cool for at least 10 minutes before filling.

Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Stir and melt over medium heat. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, egg yolks and granulated sugar and beat until thick and lemon-colored. Add the chocolate and whisk until thoroughly combined (do this slowly and in small bits so as not to cook the eggs).

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prebaked, cooled tart shell, spreading it evenly (sprinkle with almonds if using), and bake just until the filling is set, about 10 minutes.



Me! July 20, 2009 at 8:59 PM  

hahahaha i do that too!!!! especially with ice cream. and whipped cream. i didn't even know cream cheese has that much lactose because i usually throw in other dairy products and deal with the consequences. your tarts look really good too :)

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