Friday, May 30, 2014

Tart au Chocolat with Crunchy Crust

There are some recipes that you need to make before you convince yourself that they are good. Some others you just know immediately that you will love them. This Tart au Chocolat is one of those you know it's good even before making it. It uses only the simplest of the simplest ingredients, it contrasts textures and it's super chocolaty. You already know it's good, right?

My parents were visiting me this month of May and my dad has a really big sweet tooth but I rarely make him desserts when he's here because there's an amazing french patisserie close to my house where my dad visits daily and comes back home with 2 ├ęclairs, 1 french baguette and 2 croissants. I'd make them dinner everyday but I never saw the need to actually make something sweet for them.  Few days before they left my dad said "my friends won't believe when I tell them that you never made me a dessert during my stay". Well.... I think I got his message. He wanted me to make one of my scrumptious desserts and you know what? I did it. I did it so well that my dad almost had an indigestion from eating too much chocolate.

Even though no sugar is added to the creamy filling and the chocolate used here is 70% this dessert is still sweet enough, mostly because of the crunchy crust that is a mixture between almond brittle and hazelnut paste. I have already taught you how to make almond brittle here and caramelized hazelnuts here but just in case I'll teach you all over again in this episode.
This tart is not baked and the chocolate, eggs and heavy cream are enough to harden it and to create a super smooth creamy texture. If you are in a hurry and you don't want to prepare the ingredients for the crust yourself you just have to buy a nice almond brittle and some hazelnut paste. That's it!

My dad has always played the acoustic guitar for fun (only at home). Mostly rock classics and brazilian music like bossa nova. Because of the complicated chords those songs requires- specially in brazilian songs- he'd never memorize the lyrics and since the age of 3 I was the one who sang along with him while he concentrated in all those crazy chords. To me, using my dad as part of this episode by playing live music just felt very natural. He is awesome and my best friend. I could say we are the perfect duo for music and life!

if you don't want to make the brittle I'd recommend using the 'English Toffee' sold at Trader Joe's. You will need 1 1/2 cups
 for almond brittle:
100g cup granulated sugar - 1/2 cup
85g light corn syrup - 1/4 cup
40ml water - 2 tbsp
pinch os salt
50g unsalted butter - 1/2 stick
1 tsp baking soda
70g chopped almonds - 1/2 cup
for hazelnut paste:
you can use store bought hazelnut paste or even hazelnut spread such as Nutella if you prefer. You will need 1/2 cup
200g granulated sugar - 1 cup
100g toasted hazelnuts - 3/4 cup 
for filing: 
2 eggs
460ml heavy cream - 1 1/2 cups
340g dark chocolate (minimum 60% I used 70%)
for caramelized hazelnut:
50g granulated sugar - 1/4 cup
10 hazelnuts

Utensils: Tart pan (I used a 12"x 5"), food processor or mixer, toothpick and parchment paper or silpat. 

Directions: To make the almond brittle add the sugar, light corn syrup, water and salt to a pan. Stir to combine and cook it over medium heat until it boils. As soon as it boils add the butter and let it cook until it caramelizes and gains a dark amber color. Turn off the heat, add the almonds and baking soda. Stir. Pour the mixture over a silpat or parchment paper and spread it evenly. Let it cool and break it in smaller pieces. 

To make the hazelnut paste add the hazelnuts to a baking pan. Bake it at 350F for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Rub it with a clean dishcloth to remove some of the skin. Add it to a food processor or mixer and process it until fine. In a pan add the sugar. Over medium heat stir until the sugar caramelizes completely. With the food processor or mixer still running, pour this hot caramel over the hazelnuts to form a paste.  

In a bowl add 1 1/2 cup of finely chopped brittle and 1/2 cup of hazelnut paste (if the paste is too hard microwave it for 15 seconds). Mix it with your hands to combine. Spread it in the bottom of your pan and press it to flatten. Refrigerate until needed.  It is possible that you will have leftover brittle and hazelnut paste. Both can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months. 

To make the filling whisk the eggs together. In a pan add the heavy cream and wait just until it reaches a full boil and rise to the top of the pan. Immediately remove from heat and pour it over the eggs whisking constantly. Add the chopped chocolate to the warm mixture and stir it until smooth. 

Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust and refrigerate it for 1 hour at the top of your fridge (coldest part). Meanwhile make the garnish by melting 50g of sugar in a small pan over medium heat. Once melted, let it cool for 1 minute to thicken a little bit. Insert the tip of a toothpick in a hazelnut and dip it into the caramel. Lift it and place them in a place where they can harden, preferably hanging upside-down at the edges of your cabinet's door. 

Before serving, heat the edges of the pan to help unmold it. Slice the tart and place one caramelized hazelnut over each slice. This recipe yields one 12" x 5" Chocolate Tart (approximately 10 slices).