Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Warm Chocolate Tart with Candied Orange


Chocolate tarts are an easy seller for most people. Warm chocolaty filling and a crunchy crust make for a delicious dessert at any time of year. This tart has been very popular in the restaurant, and is served with homemade caramel ice cream.

The kitchen has been incredibly warm these past few days although the pastry kitchen - which is generally blessed with more fresh air- has made the heat a little more bearable. The pastry kitchen at l'Ecole is cooler than the other stations in the restaurant but even so, it has been quite the challenge to plate ice cream scoops and run to the front of the kitchen before they look like soup. Rolling out dough has also been a little more fussy than usual, and even on cold marble, the tart dough was very quickly too soft to handle. The trick has been to roll it out on floured parchment paper, and to use a second piece of it to flip the dough around and make sure it doesn't stick.

Heat really is the evil cousin of the kitchen and I'm not sure I'm completely used to performing sometimes tedious or physically demanding tasks while all you I am dreaming about is a pool and iced cocktails. But when I start plating dishes such as this chocolate tart, it's easier to put things back into perspective. This beautiful - and tasty! - food will soon be served to a crowd waiting in the dining room who will, hopefully, leave their table satisfied.


Recipe (makes about 30 individual tarts)
Tart Dough:
450 grams butter
200 grams sugar
2 egg yolks
15 milliliters heavy cream
510 grams flour

280 grams of bittersweet chocolate
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
55 grams of sugar
Zest of 1 orange
170 grams of softened butter
Icing sugar for garnish

Candied Orange Peel:
Peel of 2 oranges, cut into thin matchsticks
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
Extra water to blanch

Place the butter and sugar in a mixer and mix until softened - don't overbeat. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and heavy cream and add slowly to the mixer. Once the mixture is smooth, turn off the machine and add the flour all at once. Mix until the dough holds together but do not overbeat. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
Once the dough has rested, take it out and roll in out gently into a thin disc. Butter 3 1/2 inch tartlet molds and gently cut out circles of dough to fit them. Place the circles to chill in the fridge (or freezer) until they are cold. They should be cold and just maleable enough to be placed in the molds. Even if they seem a little bit hard, press them between your two palms and they will be maleable in no time. They should still be cold when placed in the oven, so try to fill your mold quickly and do them in batches if you plan on making a few. Bake at 325 F (making sure to place beans or another heavy element inside so that the dough does not rise. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the sides of the crust are light golden-brown in color.
Remove the beans and bake for another 2 minutes. Leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate. While it is melting, place the yolks, whole eggs and sugar in a mixer. Mix for about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens and forms ribbons. Add the butter, zest and mix it with a spatula. Add the melted chocolate.
Fill the cooled tart doughs with the filling and bake at 325 F for an additional 6 minutes.

Candied Orange:
Place the peels in a pot of hot water and blanch 3 times to remove bitterness. Make a simple syrup by dissolving 2 cups of sugar in 2 cups of water. Add the peels to the syrup and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes or until the peels are translucent.

Serve the tart warm sprinkled with icing sugar and candied orange.

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