Archive for the ‘Tart’ Category

Last week when the mail came at my boyfriend’s house, he was positively giddy to find that the latest issue of Food and Wine magazine had been delivered and he immediately started flipping through and bookmarking everything that tickled his fancy. At one point, he stopped his meticulous combing of the magazine, thrust it out to me and said longingly, “Make this for me please!”

The recipe that had gotten his sweet tooth singing was a decadent looking dessert titled Chef Michael Glissman’s Chocolate-Bourbon Tart. (That’s the recipe at foodandwine.com, just so you know). The description got me hooked too, for how could I possibly resist something described as “a dark-chocolate truffle in a crisp, flaky cocoa crust”? And with bourbon to lend a delightful smoky flavor to the chocolate? I can easily say I was just as gung-ho to make it as he was to eat it.

But the thing that got me the most excited was the fact that this recipe was by far the most advanced baking I’d ever attempted. I couldn’t wait to test my mettle against something I had never done before, especially since it looked tricky! So don’t get put off by it, because the Wonder Baker is here  to see you through!

Important! This recipe has a lot of steps and  it’s very time-consuming with the recipe giving a time of almost five hours to make this thing. We started working on it at around 4pm and when the tart was completely finished and cooled, it was just about 1 in the morning. So give yourself time! You can always prepare the dough, pop it in the fridge, and resume work the next day. Don’t try and cram all the work into a single evening, a tired baker just doesn’t have as much fun!

This recipe has two parts: the crust and the filling. We will be starting with the crust, for without the crust where would we put the filling?

Start by gathering up your ingredients. Note: For the filling, the recipe calls for 5 eggs and 2 sticks of unsalted butter (which you might already have out because of the butter in the crust) at room temperature. If you’re the forgetful sort of wonder baker like I am, you might want to go ahead and set those out now.

Gather up a cup and a half of flour, a half cup of cocoa powder, and a quarter teaspoon of salt because we’re gonna sift them together!

I’d never used a sifter like this before, it was pretty exciting. Just dump everything into your sifting device of choice (even a mesh strainer would work in a pinch!) and over a large bowl…

Start sifting away! Holy wonder boobs! Man, look at that messy counter. Oh well.

You’ll have a nice pile of finely sifted goodies when you’re done, don’t worry if you end up with some weird chunks you couldn’t get through the mesh, the sifting was to weed those out.

Set that bowl aside for now and grab another for mixing up the other stuff

That is, your two sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature

Plus a half cup of sugar!

Now, the next instruction is to beat those together at medium speed using the paddle attachment on a standing mixer. But you see, I don’t have a paddle attachment for my standing mixer.

What I did have was a wooden spatula and my wonderful boyfriend’s powerful arms

And look, they worked just as well as any ol’ standing mixer could!

Next I lowered the setting on my boyfriend’s arms from “medium-high” to “low” and watched him mix in our pretty pile of chocolate and flour. You should have a soft dough forming up by now

Oh, don’t forget to pop in half a teaspoon of vanilla extract! Vanilla extract is one of those things that’s in everything, so it must be important. Sure smells good at least.

Finally your tart crust dough is all done! You’re going to need to chill it before rolling it out, so pop it onto some plastic wrap…

And press it into a disk!

Well, this is kind of a disk, I guess. The shape isn’t really important, I promise. Pop that sucker in the fridge for one hour, or until it’s cold and firm. But don’t rush it, you’re going to need that hour to prepare for the work ahead.

Let me preface this by mentioning that I don’t know if the experience I had with this dough is typical. You might start rolling it and find that it’s the most pleasant experience you’ve ever had with a rolling pin. But for me, to say preparing this dough for the pan was difficult would be an understatement. It was downright frustrating. So here’s my Wonder Baker Tip: if you encounter the same issues I did, don’t cry! It’s going to be a bit of a process rolling this thing out, but once you’re finished you’ll be so proud of yourself! So don’t rush things, just take it nice and slow and don’t let your easily flustered side take over.

Start this process by setting your oven to 350F. Woo, now we’re ready to go.

Grab your rolling pin and prepare your work surface with flour. You’re going to be rolling this out into an 11inch round, so I highly recommend using the smallest surface you have available to work on that will fit that size. The reason for this is you’re going to have to chill the dough as you work and that means popping it back into the fridge or freezer periodically, work surface and all.

My cutting board was really big! And check out that rolling pin. Are those creepy clowns on the handles?

Yikes, they are. When we asked where it came from, Nick’s mom had no response.

Time to get the dough! It should be in a rock hard disk. So hard that you’ll need to give it a moment to warm up. But not too many moments, so don’t just abandon it on the counter or anything.

As you start to roll it out, you’ll discover that there is no amount of flour on the Earth that can keep this dough together.  Pieces will come off on your rolling pin and break off the edges. I remind you that it’s okay. Just grab anything that breaks off and smash it back.

Keep on keeping on until you reach a point where you think there’s no way you can make this dough roll out any more. At that point, pop the dough back in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes. This will let it firm back up enough to at least get another inch worth of rolling before it starts to fall apart again. Just repeat until your dough is about a quarter inch thick and large enough to fit in your pan and still go up the sides about an half an inch (that’s an 11 inch round if you’re using a 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom as the recipe suggests).

I am filled with intense regret that I don’t have pictures of how we got the dough from the cutting board to the pan. Basically what you want to do is, after it’s all rolled out, chill the dough for another 5 or so minutes. Then, working as quickly as you can (but with lots of patience), use a thin spatula or anything similar you can find (I used a big pizza spatula type thing which you can see below) and just loosen it off the board and into the pan. There will probably be a lot of experimenting with this part, but believe in yourself and you can make it through!

Look, the dough is in the pan! It’s in there and now you can take every comfort in knowing the worst is completely over. The rest of this recipe is so simple that you’ll forget how hard you worked on the demon dough. And the results will be so worth it, promise. The crust is one of the highlights of the tart, so you’ll be glad you worked so hard.

Trim the edges of your dough to about as even as you can get. If you want, you can make cool shapes with your fingers while you’re pressing, or just admire the beauty of your fingerprints. Then toss it back in the fridge for another 20 minutes for it to firm up some more.

When you take it out of the fridge, cover your dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. I don’t actually have any pie weights and don’t know anyone who does, so improvise! You could use dry beans, marbles, pebbles, solid gold legos, anything you have around that carries some weight. I used these wacky mancala bead things Nick’s mom gave me. Why does she have them and what are they for? Another mystery about the odd things around the boyfriend’s house.

Bake the crust for 30 minutes. The recipe says “or until almost cooked” but honestly, how would you check with the foil and weights in there? So I just took a leap of faith and left it in there for the 30 minutes. Everything seemed to work out alright. After you’ve let the pan cool enough to touch, go ahead and remove the foil with the weights. I had so many weights in there I had to remove a few by hand before I could lift out the rest, only I was impatient and didn’t wait for everything to cool. It was like playing jacks, only instead of timing so I could catch the ball, I had to time it so I didn’t get severe burns. Hey, baking is an adventure!

After the weights are out, the crust goes back in the oven for another 12 minutes. Again, I just followed the recipe. I don’t really know how to tell if a pie crust is finished cooking (if you do please share!), but everything turned out perfect.

Aw, it looks so lonely. Set it on a cooling rack and set up shop for the filling!

Woo, filling ingredients!

The Ghirardelli 60% Chocolate is my absolute favorite dark chocolate to use. Well, it’s my favorite baking chocolate for everything. It’s got all the perks of dark chocolate flavor without any unpleasant bitterness. I think it’s perfect for everything, even if dark chocolate isn’t called for. But that’s just me 🙂

We decided that even though we had chips already, we wanted our chocolate in smaller pieces to make for an easier melt, so we went for the course chop the recipe suggested. In case you didn’t know, chocolate chips aren’t the easiest thing to chop up, so it might be in your best interest to get a bar of chocolate instead. This was fun though!

Dump your chocolate into your mixing bowl along with another quarter teaspoon of salt. Now it’s time for the most fun part of all: heating the alcohol!

In a cute little pot, start heating your half cup of bourbon of choice on low heat. You’ll have to keep an eye on it since you don’t want the bourbon to boil.

Add your cup of sugar and watch as it starts to slowly melt into the bourbon. It won’t all dissolve right away, but it’s fun to watch the sugar mountain start to shrink.

As the sugar heats in the bourbon, it does some really cool things! Look at all those bubbly little sugar volcanoes! If you thought all the fun of alcohol was drinking it, I hope I’ve proved you wrong.

Now, once all the sugar is dissolved and your mixture is still hot, carefully take the pot and pour the bourbon over the chocolate. The hot liquid will do all the melting for you, so start mixing your filling on a nice low speed.

As the mixer is going, you’re going to add the two sticks of butter piece by piece and the 5 eggs one at a time. Keep that mixer going until you have beautiful smooth chocolate

Just like this!

Pour it right intoo your now cool crust. It’s a mini chocolate waterfall!

Your filling should even out on it’s own, but you can give it a little shake or spin to get it just right. And you should be able to see a little bit of the crust peaking up! I love the color differences in the chocolate filling and the crust.

This chocolate beauty will bake in the oven for a whole 35-40 minutes. You can tell when it’s finished when the top is cracked and there are no moist shiny spots. You can also stick a knife in there and see if it comes out clean.

When it’s all done, the smell alone will get you excited for dessert. But just look at how pretty it is!

Let it cool down enough to where you get it out of your handy dandy removable bottom tart pan. It’s going to have to chill overnight before you can eat it, but there’s no reason you can’t admire it while it’s fresh and new!

As you can see from this delicious close-up, our crust edge isn’t exactly even. But who cares! Look at all that chocolate!

The wait will be long while it’s chilling, but when you finally try it, I’m hoping you’ll be dazzled. The chocolate and the bourbon flavor compliment each other amazingly, plus it’s nice to get the taste of the bourbon without actually having to undergo the painful experience of drinking it. It’ll be a big hit with all your fancy friends. And chocolate loving friends too, so that should cover all your bases.

As my pun-loving Wonder Baker idol would say, “Don’t you get tart with me!”

Happy Eating!