A French Chocolate Tart or Tarte au Chocolat is not nearly as fussy a dessert to prepare as many people think. Even the pastry in this simple recipe is pretty forgiving.
I like to make a few special desserts for the Christmas and Boxing Day meals and this one is on my short list for this year.
A certain television commercial for the Christmas season has been heavily promoting a frozen Tarte au Chocolat as part of their seasonal entertaining suggestions. I agree that it is a great dessert but if you are thinking that this is some complicated confection best left to a professional pastry chef, you couldn’t be more wrong. It is actually a very simple recipe that, I think, even a beginner baker can easily accomplish. Don’t be intimidated, give this one a whirl and let your guests think you spent hours on this simple yet impressive dessert.
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- ¼ tsp salt omit if using salted butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ½ cup cold butter cut in small pieces
- 1 large egg slightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 7 ounces by weight dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 7 ounces whipping cream
- 3 ounces milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 large beaten egg
NOTE: A word about the chocolate for this recipe before you begin. Good quality chocolate is essential for this recipe. I use chocolate that has an absolute minimum of 50 % cocoa. I think darker is better but tastes vary.
Sift together flour, sugar and salt.
Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (You can also do this by pulsing the butter through the dry ingredients in a food processor.)
Add egg and vanilla and mix together only enough to make a dough form.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for a half hour before rolling out.
You can make your dough the previous day but make sure you take it out of the fridge for 10 minutes to warm slightly before rolling out.
Roll the dough into a 12 inch round and place in the bottom of a 10 inch tart pan or pie plate. You will need to blind bake this crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F before adding the filling. Blind baking is essential so that the bottom crust will not get soggy.
To blind bake a crust, simply place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil over the dough and cover the bottom of the pie plate with baking weights. (Marbles, dry beans, peas, rice or barley work just as well as anything else.)
Bring the cream and milk just to boiling and pour the hot liquid over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes and whisk together until smooth.
Cool for about 10 minutes before whisking in the beaten egg and vanilla.
Pour into the blind baked shell and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. The center can still be a just a little bit wobbly at this point. The surface should still be shiny.
Chill thoroughly before cutting and serving. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings if desired.