I like the idea of a tart – crispy, buttery base that holds itself long enough to support the filling and then surrenders once you take a greedy bite; the filling that’s silky, smooth and preferably adorned with berries. That’s a pretty picture isn’t it?
It’s quite far out from reality. Every time I find myself making a pie or tart of any kind (which isn’t often), it involves some tears, a lot of self doubt and an embarrassing amount of cursing. The weather is so humid, I always seem to get the dough sticky enough for me to give up or detect a lot of flour later. If it finally reaches the baking stage, the blind baking/partial blind baking always leaves me flustered. Yet, I venture on because I’m a hopeless romantic. Someday, my crust will be the right mix of buttery and flaky and whatever else looks effortless on TV. This noir tart is just another experiment. The crust is slightly more crisp for my liking but that didn’t deter my father from inhaling two whole slices. He also claims he doesn’t like chocolatey desserts but that’s a story for another day.
The one thing this tart does have going for it in terms of method is that no rolling is necessary. It comes from a trusted source – Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours so I follow it blindly, without doubt and a lot of intent. She must have anticipated that Mumbai weather makes it impossible to roll out dough without it sticking to everything and thus, you merely add crumbles onto the tart dish and just proceed to smoothen it out with your fingers. The filling uses a simple ganache which is transformed into velvet with an addition of yolks and some butter. I used salted butter throughout and I thought that kept it perfectly balanced.
For the tart base:
100g caster sugar
126g butter, cold
1 yolk, at room temperature
Iced water, as needed
1. In a medium mixing bowl, add flour and sugar and whisk to combine. Grate the butter over this mixture and use your fingers to mix it in with the flour and sugar. Add the yolk and mix well. Bring the dough together with your fingers, adding iced water as required. Once the dough starts sticking together, knead lightly. Do not overwork.
2. Using a tart tin with a removable base, add scraggly pieces of dough and stick all over. Then use your palms to flatten and even out the edges. Place in the freezer for up to a week or just until firm.
3. When you’re ready to bake, line the tart shell with foil and pie weights (I used dried beans that I’d set aside specifically for pie weights). Then, place tart shell in a pre-heated oven (180 deg C) for 15 – 17 minutes. Let it cool completely before using.
For chocolate filling:
8 oz (226g) premium chocolate, preferably 73% dark chocolate
2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy cream
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tbs (30g) butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a heat proof bowl, add chocolate and heavy cream. Melt the chocolate and cream in 20 second bursts till completely smooth. Let it cool for a few seconds and add the butter and yolks. Mix in well. Pour into the ready tart shell and refrigerate until firm. Serve cold.