Monday, April 11, 2011

Chocolate: who could live without it?

My boyfriend is an addict. An addict who has to eat a bar of chocolate every day after his lunch.
This sometimes makes me cross and I have been known to nag him about it. There have even been occasions when, in an attempt to shut me up, he has tried to cut back on his chocolate intake.
However, no matter how much I nag, he eventually relapses and reverts to his life-long habit of eating a chocolate bar a day.

The man is the very definition of a chocoholic.

One day, probably after I'd nagged him beyond endurance, he approached a friend of ours who is a trained hypnotherapist.
"I'd like to be hypnotised," he said. "Do you think you could do it for me?"
"Sure," said Julie, the hypnotherapist. "What do you want to be hypnotised for?"
"I want to give up chocolate," said my boyfriend, full of resolve as he faced a future without chocolate.
"Oh no, I couldn't do that," said Julie. "Life without chocolate is no life at all."

Chastened by her words, my boyfriend reconsidered his decision and as a result, he remains addicted to chocolate to this day.

This chocolate tart - taken from the wonderful Ladurée cookbook- is for him, to make up for my incessant and ultimately futile nagging.

Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients or what looks like a complicated method in this recipe. The time involved in making this tart mostly consists of waiting for the pastry to rest and cook. The steps are actually quite simple and the end result is more than worth the effort.

Step 1: Make the pastry
200g flour
120g unsalted butter softened and cubed, plus extra for greasing the tin
75g icing sugar
25g ground almonds
12g best quality unsweetened cocoa
1 pinch of salt
1 egg

  • Weigh your ingredients.

  • Sift the flour into a bowl and add the cubes of butter, icing sugar, ground almonds, cocoa and salt.

  • Rub the mixture together using the tips of your fingers until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs.

  • Mix in an egg and once the dough has come together and resembles pastry, shape it into a ball, cover it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge for an hour.

  • (If you've got a free-standing mixer such as a Kenwood or a KitchenAid, let it complete the above steps for you.)

  • Once the hour is up, unwrap your pastry and roll it to fit a 24cm tart tin.

  • (Here's a tip for rolling pastry: place your pastry on a sheet of clingfilm and place another sheet on top. This will allow you to roll your pastry without having to worry about it sticking to your work surface or to your rolling pin.)

  • Butter and flour your tart tin and then press in the pastry.

  • Allow it to rest for another hour in the fridge.

    Step 2: Start making the chocolate meringue layer 30 mins before the pastry needs to go in the oven.
    45g good quality chocolate (I used chocolate with a 70% cocoa content)
    3 eggs
    65g caster sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius

  • Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

  • Trace a circle with a 22cm diameter onto the paper (if you're using a slightly bigger or smaller tin than the 24cm one recommended, make your circle 2cm smaller than the tin you're using.)

  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

  • Separate the eggs.

  • Beat the yolks with 35g of the caster sugar until they have a the consistency of mayonnaise.

  • In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks then add the sugar and continue beating until they are quite stiff.

  • Pour 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolks and then mix in the melted chocolate.

  • Pour in the rest of the egg whites and fold them in carefully.

  • Pour the mixture into a piping bag and starting in the middle of the circle you have drawn on the grease-proof paper, pipe a circle onto the tray.

  • Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

  • Allow to cool.

    Step 3: Cook the pastry

  • Prick holes in the pastry with a fork and line it with some parchment and baking beans (or whatever you use to weigh down pastry).

  • Cook at 170 degrees Celsius for 25 mins.

  • Allow to cool.

    Step 4: Make the ganache
    300g good quality chocolate (for this I used a mixture of 200g of 70% cocoa and 100g of 40%)
    300g double cream
    100g of softened unsalted butter, cubed

  • Cut the chocolate into small chunks and place in a bowl.

  • Bring the cream to the boil.

  • Pour half of the boiling cream over the chocolate and whisk the mixture together.

  • Pour in the other half and whisk again.

  • Add the cubes of butter, little by little and fold them into until the ingredients have melted together and the mixture is smooth and shiny.

    Step 5: Assemble the tart

  • Pour a thin layer (2-3 ml deep) of ganache over the pastry.

  • Place the chocolate meringue layer over that.

  • Pour the rest of the ganache on top.

  • Leave to rest for 30mins at room temperature.

  • Decorate with shavings of chocolate.

    What you will now have is a chocolate tart that defies belief.
    The pastry is crisp, chocolatey and sweet.
    The dense and smooth richness of the ganache is broken by the crunch of the meringue layer.
    I can't imagine a more perfect mouthful.

    I hope it makes up for my nagging...

    1. Oh holy sweet mother that looks amazing. I too am a bar of chocolate a day person, I just can't let the day go past without eating some. Tell your boyfriend it is perfectly normal behaviour. :)

    2. It is AMAZING. I just checked out your chocolate Brunos(!) too and they look fab.
      I have passed your message on to the boyfriend and he is glad to know there are others like him out there!