May 26, 2012

Chocolate ganache custard tart

A few weeks ago, I made two tart shells and stocked them in the freezer.  I used the first for that lovely lemon tart and I had plans for that second crust and it was for a chocolate tart - a chocolate ganache custard tart, to be exact.  This is a recipe I've wanted to try for a while ever since I made my first tart last summer because I simply love all things chocolate.  Plus, like the lemon tart, this is another delectable yet simple French dessert we can make and enjoy at home.
I started with that simple, no-roll tart shell.  This time, I pressed the dough into a rectangular, 13 3/4 by 4 1/2-inch, tart pan (I knew I'd use that pan one of these days!).  When you have the tart shell ready to go, the filling is quite simple, calling for four ingredients.
This is all about the chocolate and there are ten ounces of it in this tart, which can serve 10 people.  I used a mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate since that's what I had on hand.  Instead of heavy cream, I opted for half-and-half to cut down on some of the fat.  I think the half-and-half provides enough richness but you can certainly use heavy cream if you want the full on effect.  For a chocolate ganache tart, the filling (or ganache=chocolate and cream mixture) would simply be poured into a baked tart shell and then chilled.  Some professionals actually use a hot air gun to get rid of air bubbles on top of the ganache once it's been poured into the tart shell.  I'm perfectly content with some air bubbles on mine but it does explain those perfectly smooth surfaces.

In this case, we're making a custard tart so we whisk an egg and egg yolk into the ganache (chocolate and half-and-half, in this case), along with a dash of vanilla extract before baking in the oven for about 20 minutes.
What you end up with is an elegant dessert fit for a dinner party.  The chocolate custard filling is decadent, delicious, and deep in chocolate flavor, with an added bonus of a buttery, crisp crust.  It isn't too sweet, particularly when you use a chocolate with a high cacoa percentage, but it is a luxuriously chocolaty way to end a meal.  
I really like the idea of a tart like this for a dinner party since it's something you can make earlier in the day and there's something special about a tart, particularly homemade.  A group can help polish off this tart, which should be eaten, ideally, the day it's made since the tart shell loses its fresh crispness after refrigeration.  The center, though, gets fudgier and stays delicious, in my opinion.
If you are a chocolate-lover, I think you'll enjoy this dessert and appreciate the magic that is chocolate ganache.  The filling is like a set pot de crème.  It's smooth and almost fudgey in texture.  I strongly recommend a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go with a slice of this tart.  When the two mix together, the center tastes like molten chocolate cake and you didn't need to bake it at the last minute.  If you skip the ice cream, maybe a sprinkle of sea salt over the top would be interesting.

For this chocolate ganache custard tart, I started by making the tart shellI used a rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom this time but you can press the dough into a more standard, round 9-inch pan.
Make the tart shell up to a month in advance and store it in the freezer until the day you're ready to make the chocolate tart.  Once baked, let it cool completely before filling with the chocolate custard.

For the chocolate filling, place 10 ounces of chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate into a large heatproof bowl.  I added a teaspoon of espresso powder into the chocolate to amp up the chocolate flavor but that is optional.  Add 1 cup of heavy cream or half-and-half (I used half-and-half) into the chocolate and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. 
Take your time to heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is thoroughly melted and the mixture is smooth (it'll be a little thick).

Set the baked and cooled tart shell onto a baking sheet and pour the chocolate custard evenly into the crust.  Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the tart is set but the still quivers when the tart is gently moved.  Avoid overbaking.  Next time, I would check a few minutes early since mine barely jiggled at the 20 minute mark.  Let the tart cool completely before removing the outter ring and serving.  
The tart should be eaten the same day it's baked so the tart shell is at its freshest.  You can enjoy this tart plain or with some whiped cream but I vote for ice cream.  Vanilla ice cream was a delicious accompaniment to a small wedge of this tart.  It seems to bring out the taste of the filling while balancing it out.  And I found the filling really delectable - it might sound odd but some kind of magic happens with the ganache and eggs baked this way.  Use really good chocolate that you'd enjoy eating and you'll be a satisfied chocoholic. 


Chocolate Ganache Custard Tart
Adapted, slightly, from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

- One 9-inch tart; Serves up to 10 -

Prebaked and cooled tart shell

10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup half-and-half (or heavy cream)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Placed chopped chocolate and half-and-half into a large heatproof bowl.  Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth. 

Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for a minute or two to cool slightly.  Whisk in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract.  Set the prebaked tart pan onto a baking sheet and pour the mixture evenly into it.

Bake the tart until the filling is set but still quivers a bit when moved gently, about 20 minutes.  Don't overbake. 

Remove the tart from the oven and cool completely before removing the ring of the tart pan.  The tart is best served the day it is made.  I highly recommend vanilla ice cream (or your preferred flavor) as accompaniment though you could also consider a dallop of whipped cream.



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