Death by chocolate (tart)

It wouldn’t be the worst way I could think of, to go by chocolate tart; being engulfed so thoroughly by this thick, dark, oozing, slightly bitter lava. If they found me, my face covered with dark remnants, the odd pastry crumb, a fork clawing helplessly at the…last…bite. They’d know I’d bit off more than I could chew…

I’m partial to a sliver of chocolate tart, as you can tell. It has to be dark, it cannot be sweet – well, not too sweet anyway. The sort of richness that makes you feel like you really could not eat anymore at all. That sort of tart is the one I love.

I came across a number of recipes, whilst perusing many sources for this tart. My conclusions: you need chocolate, cream and butter. In really any quantities. Beyond that, it’s pretty hard to stuff up. I made a couple of little tarts and a couple of chocolate pots with mine, but this would yield enough for a 23cm tart shell.

You will need:
– 300g chocolate. I would say get dark aka semi sweet chocolate. I couldn’t find any. I used a mix of 70% and milk, half a half. Though a 70% tart would have been pretty good too. The mix was sufficiently dark that it wasn’t too sweet, but still reminded everyone it was a delicious dessert-y chocolate tart.
– 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg (use the egg whites for a bomb alaska! see picture at end)
– 300mL thickened cream
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1 tart shell. I used the standard shortcrust from my pecan pie a few blogs ago – I like the ever so slightly salty contrasting shell to my filling. Otherwise you could go for a sweeter tart shell, perhaps a chocolate version

Step 1 – shellshock: make your tart shell as per the pecan pie recipe. Blind bake with rice, and then bake for a further 10 mins or so without the rice. Cool.

Step 2 – get tarted up: to make your filling, break your chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl along with the butter. Bring the cream to the boil and then pour over the chocolate. Let it hang out for a few minutes and then stir to combine. Yes, the chocolate will melt. Pour this mixture into your cooled tart shell/s. Bake at 160 degrees for around about 25 minutes, or until you can just see the centre of the tart slightly wobbling. If you want to make it look ever so slightly fancy, either sieve some cocoa powder over the top, or alternatively combine a little melted chocolate with cream to a liquidy consistency and spread over the top. Simples.

You old tart

You old tart

 

Oh – bonus shot. Bombe alaska!

The nice sort of bomb(e)

The nice sort of bomb(e)

You old (pear frangipane) tart

There used to be this really good cake shop, Jenny Cake, in this beachside town of Byron Bay, a few hours from where I grew up. There I was introduced to the world of chocolate eclairs, cherry strudels and one of my favourite tarts – the frangipane tart. So feeling fairly tarty – as I have been lately, what with the goats cheese and asparagus and pecan varieties of late – I’ve decided to go with a pear frangipane tart in the hope of reliving memories of Jenny Cake gone by.

You will need:
– 125g softened butter
– 125g caster sugar (for the frangipane)
– 125g almond meal
– 2 eggs
– 1tbsp plain flour
– 3 large pears (depending on how peary you like your tarts), peeled
– 200g caster sugar (for the pear poaching)
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 5-6 cloves
– the juice of half a lemon
– the zest of half an orange (as in, big strips of)
– vanilla – I use about a teaspoon of those bottled vanilla pod/seed things, or you could use a vanilla pod, or just some vanilla essence
– one lot of everyone’s favourite shortcrust pastry, from that pecan pie recipe from a while back, baked and shell-like

Step 1 – like a frangipani: in a mixing bowl, cream the butter and first lot (125g) of caster sugar. Once that’s nice and fluffy, beat in the eggs, one by one (or, as I did, accidentally all at the same time). After that, fold in the almonds and flour. I just left this in the fridge until I was ready to bake.

Step 2 – get poached: in a saucepan, dump your second lot (200g – or less, depending how sweet you want your pears; 200g is not overly overly sweet) of caster sugar and then also about 500ml of water. Heat on medium until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves, as well as the lemon juice, orange zest and vanilla to the pan (if you’re using an actual vanilla pod, split the pod in half and scrape out the seeds and whack the lot into the pan). Add your pears and some more water to just cover the pears. Whack the lid on and bring to a simmer (or if you’re being all fancy pants, you can do the cartouche thing – cut a circle of baking paper and lay over the top of the water, touching the water and simmer – it slows down the moisture reduction process…orrr you could just put a lid on). Simmer for about 20 minutes and then remove the pears from the liquid and cool.

Poaching pears

Hi pear!

Step 3 – fill ‘er up: pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees celcius (fan forced). In your beautifully baked tart shell, spread your frangipane mix – I filled it about halfway up the shell. Slice your pears how you like – I went for long, chunky slices – and place these into your tart. You could lay them delicately on top of you like; I went for the “dig into the frangipane mix” method. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until it’s all looking delicious and golden and the frangipane is set. Serve with a nice, big fat dollop of cream or something equally delicious and wolf down! (Oh, PS, I’ve been using a smaller tin in the dumb hope that I’ll eat less junk food – so the recipe will actually make a bigger tart – like one of those 23cm tart tins 🙂

Yumbo!

Gettin’ cheesey – goats cheese and asparagus tart

The days are gettin’ longer, the flies are buzzin’ later and the weather’s gettin’ balmier. Although I love to eat – I really do – the last thing I want at this time of year is a big, heavy meal. I’m done with the sitting in a food coma in this hot, hot heat and perspiring while my body desperately attempts to digest the onslaught I have just unleashed.

Anyway, my recipe today is a delicious, fresh goats cheese and asparagus tart. Crisp and light, I think it’s kinda nice to eat this with a sharp little rocket salad on the side.

You will need…
– Asparagus! For one of those round (c.23cm) tart tins, I’d say a couple of bunches
– Olive oil – just around about half a tablespoon
– Salt to taste
– Fresh thyme – say, a tablespoon
– Goats cheese – about 100 grams
– 2 eggs
– 1/3 cup of milk
– 1/3 cup of thickened cream
– 1/4 cup parmesan
– Pepper
– A hearty pinch of nutmeg
– 1 lot of shortcrust pastry from my epic pecan pie recipe

Step 1 – roly-poly: pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees celcius, fan forced. Roll out your pastry, lay it in a tart tin, prick the bottom, line with baking paper and fill with beans / rice / baking weights and bake for about 10 mins. Take out the baking paper / weights and continue baking for a further 10 mins.

Step 2 – vegalicious: roll your asparagus around in a light coating of the olive oil and then season with a bit of salt and pepper. Bake at 200 degrees until tender (and some bits are nicely golden)

Delicious, roasted asparagus

Step 3 – get your goat: in a bowl, mix together your milk, cream, parmesan, eggs (beaten), pepper to taste, nutmeg and thyme. In your beautifully baked tart shell, layer lumps of half of the goats cheese. Then fill with your creamy milky mixture. Lay your roasted asparagus in some incredibly arty formation on top, and then dollop in lumps of the remaining half of the goats cheese. Bake at 190 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the mixture is set. Let cool and eat with ravenous-ness.

 

Art in a tart

I am going to eat you like a lion

 

I can, you can, pecan, toucan

I’m not sure where I was going with that title, but I am sure where I’m going with this post: pecan pie. The greatest of all pies, and if you disagree, then we’re absolutely not friends (unless you’re allergic…in which case, how unfortunate).

Anyhoo, pecan pie. Crunchy, nutty, golden, caramelly – what could possibly be better? There are two components to this recipe – the shell and the filling, so it does take a little bit of prep time – but it’s definitely worth it. And you’ll feel ever so vaguely healthy. Anything with nuts in it is good for you, isn’t it?

First up, the shell. You will need:
– 250 grams plain flour
– 190 grams unsalted butter, chopped
– 1 egg yolk (not strictly necessary, it just acts as a bit of extra shortening and gives the pastry more of that epic golden colour)
– Iced water

Step 1 – the world is crumbling around me: whack the butter and flour into a bowl and start rubbing it together. You want to rub the flour and the butter together so that you ultimately end up with what looks like really course bread crumbs. That way you’ll know the butter has been properly dispersed and you won’t end up with these random oily bits and random crumbly dry bits in your pastry. It usually takes me, say, 5-10 minutes to really get it all mixed. Now add your egg yolk if using.

So crumbly

Along with that, whack in a tablespoon or so of iced water. The idea is to add JUST enough water so that the pastry JUST comes together. Add a tablespoon, have a mix, add another tablespoon if you need (you really shouldn’t need more than that). If you use too much, it’ll basically mean that when you bake your pastry it’ll end up steaming and you’ll have this limp, soggy, sorry wonder instead of a crisp, short, crumbly shell of brilliance. Knead the dough for a couple of moments, flatten it into a disk shape of sorts, wrap in gladwrap and chill for an hour or so. (or longer…if, like me, you’ve forgotten about it)

Something like this…

Step two – shake and bake: Ok, so there’s no shaking per se, but we are baking. Roll out your perfectly chilled pastry into, say, half a centimetre thick. It really doesn’t matter – I’m a fan of a decent chunk of crispy pastry but you can make it thicker or thinner if you like – it’ll just effect how long you back it for. Lay your pastry in a pie tin (grease it first if it’s not non-stick), use a fork and prick little holes all around (this way you won’t get random air bubbles around the base of your pie crust), cover with baking paper and fill with dry beans / rice / baking stones, and bake at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove the baking paper / weight and bake until just golden.

Pie shell…with a nice little bit where it’s cracked on the left. Oops

Now, the filling. For this one, you’ll need:
– 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
– 1 cup of golden syrup (well, I never said it was good for you)
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 3 large eggs
– 2 cups of pecans
– pinch of salt

Step 1 – stairway to caramelly heaven: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and simmer it until golden brown (give it a bit of a stir). Let the butter cool to room temperature, then add the golden syrup, sugar and salt and mix it all in. One at a time, whisk in the eggs, and then stir in the pecans. At this point, control your drooling.

Caramelly, pecan-y heaven

Pour this epic sea of deliciousness into your perfectly baked pie shell and bake at 190 degrees celcius (fan forced) for 10 minutes and then turn down to 180 degrees for another 15-20 minutes (or until it looks nice and golden). Let the pie hang out for a while, while the pecans get to know each other. It’ll set and go all treacle-y and also will cool down to avoid the brutal error of eating hot sugar. Ouch! Serve with ice cream, cream or just guzzle by itself!

Yum, yum pig’s bum