by Stephanie Zonis
10 to 12 servings
I had never made a tart before I developed this recipe; like many home bakers, I guess I was just apprehensive about trying to get the pastry shell right. In truth, there are a couple of tricks to it. You can't overhandle or stretch the dough, but the biggest "trick" I discovered was baking the shell blind. The term applies to a foil-lined dough shell filled with dry beans or rice for roughly the first half of baking time. This technique prevents the baking dough from sliding down the sides of the tart mold.
The filling of this is very similar to a bittersweet chocolate truffle. The tart is very rich; serve small slices (preferably after a light meal). Please use best-quality bittersweet chocolate for this; as there are so few ingredients in the filling, the quality of the chocolate really comes through.
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter,
cold, cut into thin pats
1 egg yolk, from an egg graded "large"
About 2 Tbsp. cold water, divided
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 to 1-1/2 pounds dry beans
OR rice (any variety)
Optional Chocolate Lining:
1-1/2 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate,
9 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate,
Few grains salt
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 to 3 tsp. black raspberry
OR orange liqueur
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar
Bittersweet chocolate shavings
In food processor fitted with steel blade, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Process until well-combined. Add butter pats; pulse on-and-off at high speed just until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
In small cup, combine egg yolk, 1 Tbsp. water (reserve remainder), and vinegar. With fork, beat to mix well. All at once, add to flour mixture. Stir with fork until well-blended (there will still be a lot of loose crumbs). Gradually, 1 teaspoon at a time, add just enough of remaining water so that dough barely holds together when gathered. Do not overhandle the dough.
Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill at least 1 hour (Dough can be chilled for up to 2 days at this point. If it is very cold, it may have to stand at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before it can be rolled out; if too cold when rolled, dough will crack.)
To roll dough, keep board and rolling pin lightly floured (or roll dough out between two lightly floured sheets of wax paper). Start from the center of the dough and roll outwards to keep it as nearly circular as possible. If using a board, turn the dough occasionally to keep it from sticking. If using wax paper sheets, peel off top sheet, flour dough lightly if necessary, then replace top sheet of wax paper; flip dough over (still between wax paper sheets), then peel off what is now the top sheet, flour dough lightly if necessary, then replace top sheet of wax paper. If dough becomes warm, chill again till it is cold. You want a circle of dough 11-1/2 to 12 inches in diameter.
Assemble a 9-1/2 inch diameter by 1-inch tall tart mold. Drape the rolled-out dough loosely around the rolling pin, then carefully transfer it to the tart mold, unrolling the dough across the mold. Be careful not to stretch the dough when fitting it into the mold, or it may shrink while baking.
Fit the dough into the tart mold, making sure to fit it closely where the bottom meets the sides. You will have some extra dough that hangs over the edges; trim it even with the top edges with a knife or the rolling pin (to use your rolling pin, start from the center and roll straight out in one direction, then repeat at a 180 degree angle-the top edges of the tart mold may be sharp, so be careful!). Again, be careful not to stretch the dough in the tart mold during this process. Chill the tart mold for about 30 minutes.
With a fork, prick the entire bottom of the crust at 1/4-inch intervals. Tear off a 12-inch square of regular weight aluminum foil. Fit the foil, shiny side up, into the tart mold on top of the dough, as close to the dough as you can. Leave about 1 inch of overhang on the foil all around the edges; trim off any extra. Chill the tart mold again for at least 2 hours (I chill it overnight at this point; you can chill it for a day or two, if you wish, but make sure you cover it airtight).
To bake the crust, adjust the oven rack one-third up from the oven bottom. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Just before you are ready to bake the crust, remove it from the refrigerator. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and place the tart mold onto the lined cookie sheet. Fill the foil lining of the tart mold with dry beans or rice, right to the top of the tart shell. Place the filled tart mold on the cookie sheet into the preheated oven.
Bake 15 minutes. INCREASE THE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 375 DEGREES F. Bake 5 minutes longer. Remove the cookie sheet with the tart mold on it to a cooling rack near the oven. Gently and carefully lift up the foil lining of the tart mold in several places simultaneously, and remove the foil lining, with the beans in it, to a different cooling rack. Replace the tart shell, still on the lined cookie sheet, in the oven.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the edges of the tart are a golden brown and the bottom is beginning to color slightly. Watch carefully and check frequently; if the bottom crust begins to puff up, prick it with a fork or GENTLY press out the air with a pot holder. The edges of the tart will begin to pull away from the edges of the mold toward the end of the baking period, but any shrinkage from the top edges of the mold should be minimal. Remove to cooling rack. CAREFULLY loosen tart mold from foil-lined baking sheet. With pot holders, holding the mold on the outer edges, transfer it to a cooling rack. Cool the baked shell completely before proceeding.
When shell is completely cooled, remove from tart mold. Hold the side of the mold with one hand; carefully place your other hand on the bottom of the tart mold. This should cause the bottom, with the baked tart shell on it, to come up through the sides. To remove the bottom of the tart mold, gently run a thin-bladed spatula (preferably plastic) between the tart bottom and the bottom of the mold. The tart shell should come off easily. Be careful, though; the baked shell is fragile. Place the shell on a couple of paper towels or a flat plate as a temporary base.
For optional Chocolate Lining:
Place chopped chocolate in small heatproof cup. Place over simmering water on low heat; stir often just until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and hot water; dry bottom and sides of cup carefully.
Using a soft pastry brush, gently brush the melted chocolate all over the inside of the baked tart shell to make a very thin layer. You may not have to use all of the melted chocolate-OK. Allow this chocolate lining to sit at cool room temperature until it is set, or place the tart shell into the refrigerator briefly so the lining can harden.
In medium heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolate and salt. In small saucepan over low heat, heat cream just until it simmers, stirring occasionally. Pour about half of hot cream over chocolate (reserve remainder). Allow chocolate to stand for a minute or two, then gently stir until smooth. If necessary, place bowl of Filling over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); stir often just until melted and smooth, then remove from heat and hot water. Gradually add remaining cream. Do not beat this Filling or stir it vigorously, or it may lose its delightfully smooth and creamy consistency. Gradually stir in liqueur. Cool the Filling to room temperature, stirring it gently and occasionally. The Filling will thicken slightly as it cools.
Place the tart shell on a flat serving plate. Gently and carefully pour and scrape the Filling into the shell (don't spill any on the serving plate). If any air bubbles appear, prick them with the tip of a sharp knife. The Filling should be just below the top of the tart shell. Place the filled tart into the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours. When the Filling has set (touch the top gently with a fingertip; if no Filling sticks to your fingertip, it's set), the tart can be wrapped tightly (but carefully!) in plastic wrap and stored for up to a day or so (when the plastic wrap is removed, it will have left marks on top of the Filling, but these will be covered by the Topping).
At least 20 minutes before you plan to make the Topping, place a small bowl and beater(s) into the refrigerator or freezer to chill. Pour cream into chilled bowl; beat at high speed until traces of beater marks can be seen in the cream. Add confectioners' sugar. Beat in at low speed. Return speed to high; beat cream to stiff peaks.
Spread whipped cream over top of tart, right to the tart edges. Garnish sparingly with bittersweet chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.
To cut, use a large, sharp, heavy, straight-edged knife. Cut straight down through the tart, making sure your cut goes through the bottom crust. To cut this neatly, you'll have to rinse the knife blade under hot water, then dry it off, before making every cut.
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Bittersweet Chocolate Recipes
Copyright © 2000 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created March 2000