Here’s a recipe that should come in handy for the upcoming holidays. The idea for this dish stemmed from a popular dessert at family Thanksgiving dinners. The original was a plain chocolate custard tart, covered with whipped cream and cocoa powder. While most of the other desserts would be barely touched by the turkey-stuffed guests, the tart would be gone in minutes. In the face of such popularity, I became convinced that it would be worth preparing my own version from scratch.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which elements you want to keep in your own chocolate tart. You could just make the pastry dough and the chocolate custard. Or you could go the whole nine yards by adding the prunes, glaze, and whipped cream.
The pâte brisée and the chocolate custard are both adapted from The Complete Robuchon. Robuchon didn’t invent either one, but his recipes, even the simple ones, are usually perfect. A word of warning about the chocolate glaze: its main role is to make the top of the tart pretty, and too much of it can mask the subtle flavors in the custard — apply cautiously!
Yields 1 tart
5 oz hot water
1 tea bag, black tea
5 oz pitted and halved prunes
1 oz plum brandy
- Heat the water to 200 F, add the tea bag, and let infuse.
- Place the prunes in a bowl. Discard the tea bag, and pour the tea and the brandy over the prunes. Let soak at room temperature for at least 4 hours.
- Drain any remaining liquid. Reserve the prunes.
Yields 1 tart
4 oz milk
3 oz 66% chocolate
8 oz heavy cream
3 egg yolks
2 oz sugar
- Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chocolate, and heat until completely melted, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, mix in the cream, and let cool a bit.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the whisk attachment, mix the egg yolks and sugar on low speed, then progressively add the chocolate mixture. Pass through a chinois, and let rest for 1 hour.
Yields about 16 oz (2 tarts)
8.8 oz flour
7 g (1 tsp) salt
1 egg yolk
4 oz butter, diced and at room temperature
2.5 oz water
- Sift the flour into a bowl, and make a well in the center. Put the salt, egg yolk and butter in the well, and combine using your fingertips, starting from the center outward.
- Add the water, and mix until smooth.
- Divide into 2 balls, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can freeze the extra dough.
8 oz pâte brisée
0.1 oz butter
- Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry dough to fit an 8″ tart mold. Grease the mold with the butter. Transfer the dough into the mold, and prick with a fork. Bake in a 350 F oven for 12 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Arrange the prunes evenly on the bottom of the crust. Stir the chocolate custard and pour into the crust, covering the prunes.
- Place a dish full of water on the bottom rack of the oven, still set to 350 F. Return the tart to the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the custard is barely set. Closely monitor during the last minutes, as a crack in the custard can form very quickly (it’s not the end of the world, but it doesn’t look pretty).
- Let cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then cover and refrigerate.
Yields glaze for about 1 tart
1.5 oz heavy cream
1 tsp corn syrup
1.3 oz milk chocolate (40%), chopped
- In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Add the corn syrup and the chocolate, without stirring, and let stand for 30 seconds.
- Gently stir with a rubber spatula until homogeneous, then pour the glaze on top of the tart, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly. You’ll probably have some glaze left. Don’t use too much; you just want to create a thin layer.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
8 oz heavy cream
1 oz sugar
0.5 oz plum brandy
- Place the heavy cream and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the whisk attachment. Whip to hard peaks.
- Pour in the brandy, and mix for a few more seconds. Let rest for a couple of hours to let the alcohol “diffuse”.
- Pipe or spoon on top of the tart when serving.