Médoc is looking more and more like Venice these days. The rain hasn’t stopped for days, we now have a pond in our garden, which is quite fun for the kids and the dogs I suppose. I wouldn’t mind a bit of snow, a peaceful change of creamy colors and scenery, but that won’t really happen here.
Driving through the beautiful châteaux of Pauillac and Saint Julien yesterday, I came home with an appetite for intensity and decadence. Something sweet and elegant. Bad weather can justify any of my cravings, so I made this extra rich chocolate tart, with a mascarpone vanilla bean cream and a salted butter caramel sauce. Let’s go all the way with this grown-up treat. It is my cure to these cold and wet winter months. Who doesn’t want a tart filled with all the necessary (and natural) mood enhancing ingredients? Chocolate makes you feel better, stimulated, happy and even in love. How wonderful. Eating this tart is my joie de vivre.
After blind baking the pie crust, you simply need to leave your tart in the oven with the heat switched off for 15 minutes. I usually bake this tart is a small pan (18cm/7 inch – 2 cm/ 0.8 inch depth) – it’s so rich that a small slice will do. Enjoy!
For the pastry: (this recipe will make 2 tart of 18cm/7 inch width – you can either divide the measures in 2 or simply keep excess pastry in the freezer for up to 3 months)
250 g/2 cups plain flour
150 g/ 2/3 cups butter (softened at room temperature)
30 g/ ¼ cup sugar
60 g icing/ ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
80 g/ ½ cup ground almonds
1 pinch of salt
1) In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together until the mixture forms a homogenous dough. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2) On a floured parchment covered surface, roll out the dough to fit your tart pan. Line your tart pan, leave 1/4 inch/ 1 cm overhang. Gently press the edges of pastry against the interior of the tart pan ring and prick the base with a fork. Use a piece of leftover dough to press down the edges (this trick will prevent any over-stretching or finger marks).
3) Cover with cling film and place in the freezer for a least an hour (the longer the better). This is a good trick to prevent shrinking.
4) Cut out a piece of parchment paper and line the bottom of the tart. Place beans/marbles/any oven proof weight and blind bake in a preheated oven 180°C/ 350°F for 10 minutes. Remove weight and parchment paper and bake for a further 3-4 minutes, or until slightly golden. Set aside
For the chocolate filling:
120 ml/ 1/2 cup double cream/ heavy cream
60 ml/1/4 cup full cream milk
150 g/ 1/3 pound dark chocolate
15 g / 1 tbsp salted butter
1) Switch the oven off and keep the door semi-closed (leave a tiny gap open).
2) Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl. Set aside.
3) In a saucepan, add milk, cream and butter. Bring to a soft boil and immediately pour over the chocolate. Mix well until chocolate has melted completely. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and pour gently and slowly in the chocolate mixture, mix well.
4) Gently pour the mixture into the tart and place in the oven (switched off) for 15 minutes.Close the oven door.
5) Take out from the oven and leave to cool and set for minimum 2-3 hours.
For the mascarpone vanilla bean cream:
120 ml/ 1/2 cup cream (for whipping)
80 ml/ 1/3 cup mascarpone
2 vanilla pods (cut a slit on the entire length and scrape off the beans with the tip of your knife)
2 tbsp icing sugar (sifted)
Mix all the ingredients (cream, mascarpone, vanilla beans and sugar) together and whisk for 4-5 minutes until stiff.
For the salted caramel sauce:
100 g/ 1/2 cup granulated sugar
120 ml/ 1/2 cup cream (slightly warmed)
50 g/ 3 tbsp salted butter (at room temperature)
1) Melt the sugar in a saucepan on a medium heat. Do not stir until it has nearly all melted (it should be golden/amber colored).
2) Take away from the heat, stir with a wooden spoon and gently pour the cream. Stir well, add butter, continue to stir.
3) Return to a low heat for 5-10 seconds , stirring constantly. Leave to cool.
Serve chocolate tart (cooled and left to set for 2-3 hours) with the cream and caramel sauce.