Friday, 11 August 2017

French Chocolate Tart

This tart is inspired by French patisserie, and is ideal for those people who adore dark chocolate - packed full of flavour and the filling is incredibly smooth on the palette. This is the kind of dessert you can make for you/your partner, and not worry about the children wanting to steal any (at least that's how it was described to me). Use the best quality chocolate you can afford, but as long as it's 70%, the recipe will work :)

If you're like me and love orange chocolate, to give the tart an extra delicious note, you could add some orange zest to the filling and pastry.

The pastry can be trickier to work with than normal shortcrust, as it contains eggs and icing sugar. However, the taste makes up for it - the sweetness of the pastry really complements the deep bitterness of the tart filling. This pastry is blind-baked, meaning that it is baked first without any filling in it - this prevents the dreaded soggy bottom.

If you are worried about the soggy bottom, when you take the pastry out of the oven (before adding the filling), you can spread a thin layer of egg white over the case and bake for a few minutes - this adds an extra seal to 100% stop sogginess.

Serve this tart at room temperature, and serve small slices - it's incredibly filling!

To finish off the tart, I chilled some dark chocolate (about 20g) in the fridge until it was really cold. Then use a vegetable peeler or knife to scrape along the top of the chocolate bar. This will make nice scrapings to top the tart off.

The best kind of tart tin to use is a fluted loose-bottomed one, i.e. the bottom can be removed from the tin. Spring-form tart tins tend to brake and not being able to separate the sides from the bottom will make getting even slices very difficult.

Serves 20 (makes one 20cm tart).


For the pastry (sweet sable):

  • 175g (1 cup) butter, cut into cubes
  • 75g (3/4 cup) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • Finely grated zest of one orange (optional)

For the filling:

  • 500g (2 & 7/8 cups) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200ml (4/5 cup) 4% (full fat) milk
  • 350ml (1 & 1/2 cups) double cream
  • Finely grated zest of one orange (optional)

To finish:

  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting
  • Dark chocolate shards (see above)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1-2 tbsp flavourless oil (e.g. sunflower oil)


1. Prepare the pastry by creaming the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. You could use a hand electric mixer for this.

2. Add the egg yolk, and the plain flour (and orange zest, if using), and either use a food processor or your hands to bring the dough into a bowl. If the dough seems very floury, add a tablespoon of cold water. Once the mixture is a smooth dough ball, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Prepare your 20cm fluted loose-bottomed tart case by greasing the base and sides with butter, then dusting with plain flour. Lie a piece of clingfilm on your work surface. Place the chilled dough on the cling film and place another layer of clingfilm on the dough. This allows you to roll the pastry out thin, without needing to add loads of extra flour.

4. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/2cm thick. You can check whether you have enough dough by placing the bottom of the tin over the dough and check there is enough dough to cover the base and an extra 3cm around the base. Once thin enough, remove the top layer of clingfilm. Pick the dough up carefully and flip into the tart tin (so that the remaining clingfilm is on top of the dough. Remove the clingfilm. Press the dough into the sides of the tart tin. Leave the trailing pastry, and trim off after baking.

5. Place back in the fridge for 15 minutes. Whilst chilling, preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4.

6. Once chilled, line the tart with some greaseproof paper, and fill with baking beans/rice/flour. Place on top of another tray. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the sides are golden. Carefully remove the paper and baking beans/rice/flour, then bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the base has gained a little colour and feels firm to the touch.

7. Whilst baking, make the filling. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the bowl doesn't touch the water!). In another saucepan heat together the milk and double cream until small bubbles are starting to form on the surface of the mixture. Try not to let the mixture boil so much it froths up.

8. Whisk the eggs briefly, then pour the milk/cream over the eggs whilst whisking. Once all of the milk has been added pass the mixture through a sieve onto the melted chocolate, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and a deep chocolate colour. Add the orange zest, if using.

9. Once the tart case is baked, open the oven door. Pour the filling into the tart (it's easiest to leave the tart on the tray. Close the door and then turn the oven off. Leave for 45 minutes until the oven and tart is cool.

10. Remove the tart from the oven, and take out of the tin. Combine the orange zest with the oil.

11. Dust with icing sugar and cut into slices. Top with a little orange zest/oil and chocolate shards, and serve.

12. Enjoy!

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