Tessa Huff


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Classic Chocolate Tart

Classic Chocolate Tart

A silky ganache encased in a tender crust and topped with the ripest of summer berries.  Sink your fork (or teeth!) into this luscious chocolate filling and feel the "snap" of the buttery crust.  Forever a classic and always a great choice.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

While some recipes are filled with sprinkles and slathered with cookie frosting, other pastries only call for the purest of ingredients and simple, yet exquisite flavors.  I’m talking about this classic chocolate tart.  I’m talking about a crisp, buttery pate sablee crust filled with luscious chocolate ganache.  No drippy caramel or yogurt-covered diamonds needed.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries
Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries
Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

I spend a lot of my energy thinking about and baking up sky-high layer cakes.  I’m always trying to re-invent traditional recipes and introduce new flavors in the most dramatic, show-stopping ways.  But somedays I dream of classic French pastry.  I find myself escaping the scene of scattered toys around the living room, the piles of dishes/laundry/mail/etc, and all the other chaos that comes with having an active toddler by dreaming of kaleidoscope-like fruit tarts, jewel-toned macarons, meticulously layered entremets, and the purest of tartes aux chocolat.

When working with something as pure and unadulterated as the ganache in this tart, ingredients matter.  Splurging on high-quality chocolate that is going to be baked into a cake and potentially overshadowed and diluted by mounds of fudge frosting might seem frivolous, but when the chocolate accounts for 50% of the ingredients, it is not senseless but imperative.  When I opened the box of Valhrona chocolate that arrived at my doorstep it was like opening a box of gold.  I tend to hoard my good chocolates, saving them for special occasions and superior recipes.  So when I was trying to decide what to make first with my new haul, I knew it would be something that really made the flavours of the chocolate shine.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

The ganache in this tart is no doubt the star of the show.  I love a nice butter crust and fresh summer berries, but let’s get real.  This tart is all about that silky chocolate filling.  And rightfully so!  I decided to combine Valhrona's 70% dark chocolate and dreamy 36% Caramelia to make this smooth, luscious, slightly creamy semi-sweet filling.  Pair it with the a sandy, tender shortcrust and the ripest of summer berries and you are golden!  The perfect treat for anything from Tuesday afternoon coffee break to a fanciful dinner party.

Chocolate Tart with buttery crust and berries.
Chocolate Tart with butter crust and berries.

Instead of a flakey crust made with cold butter, I prefer the more cookie-like crust of a pate sablee.  Made with softened butter and confectioner’s sugar, this type of pastry is similar to shortbread cookies instead of a typical pie crust.  I find that not only is it easier and much more forgiving to make, the crisp base is the perfect texture to contrast the silky ganache.  I love how my fork sinks through the ganache and “snaps” into the crust.  You can read more about my love for this shortcrust pasty from The Kitchn’s Baking School last fall.

Chocolate Tart with buttery crust and berries.

Classic Chocolate Tart

For the Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons cream, as needed

For the Ganache
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3.5 ounces 35% Caramelia or milk chocolate
6 ounces dark chocolate

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until creamy.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Once combined, stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in the flour and salt.  Mix only until the last streaks of flour start to disappear.  Do not overmix.  When done, the dough should hold when pressed together.  If it is too dry, add in the cream as needed.

Turn out the down on top of a piece of plastic wrap.  Gather the dough and press it into a disk.  Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

When ready to roll, allow the dough to rest at room temperature until some-what pliable, about 10 minutes.  Roll between two pieces of parchment paper until 10 to 12 inched in diameter. 

Remove the top layer of parchment and carefully invert the dough into an 8 or 9-inch tart pan. Remove the other piece of parchment then lift and fit the dough into the corners of the pan.  Trim the edges by running a paring knife around the top edge of the pan.  Fill in any holes with the scraps as needed.  Wrap loosely in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the crust has chilled, line the bottom and sides with a piece of foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans.  Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  After it has partially baked, remove the tart and baking sheet from the oven.  Carefully remove the foil and pie weights.

Return the tart crust to the oven and continue to bake until slightly golden, about 5 to 10 more minutes.  Completely cool on a wire wrack before filling.

While the tart shell is cooling, make the filling.  Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside. 

Place the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer.  Once hot, pour the cream mixture over the chocolate.  Let stand for one minute, then whisk to combine.

Pour the ganache filling into the cooled tart shell.  Allow to set at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Decorate with fresh berries before serving. 

Store leftover loosely covered in plastic in the refrigerator.


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