Two weeks ago, I was asked to make a birthday cake for Matt’s grandmother for her Sunday birthday lunch. I was delighted since she is the biggest chocolate fan I know (she is serious, I am not even close). I decided to go as chocolaty as I could and make a basic flour-less chocolate cake, something I have made before, sort of safe right? I fussed over it for days, insisting Matt gets “nice chocolate”, got extra butter and eggs and had it all planned out for that Saturday afternoon in order to not rush. As usual when I am baking for these type of thing I made a small “tester” version of the cake to try (and to be honest, it’s hard for me to wait – after all that work I want cake!) Unfortunately all my beautiful plans were shattered when I happily dug into my tester: for some reason, it was egg-y. Not bad but not great either. Definitely not the smooth thick chocolaty rich cake I wanted. I was not happy and despite Matt advice that it was fine, there was no way I was bringing this cake for the birthday party.
So I took out my stash of back-up chocolate chips and flipped through my favorite cookbooks for inspiration. I picked Laura Calder’s Chocolate Tart figuring that I couldn’t go wrong as Laura always has wonderful simple things. I made a quick trip to the corner store, had a quick dinner and got to work. I hadn’t originally planned to adapt it (as things weren’t going great at this point already) but the corner store that I went to only had one 250 ml of heavy cream left (when it’s not your night) and it set me off. While I was at it I reduced the sugar as I didn’t think it needed so much, played with the eggs and added toasted hazelnuts (since I had seen this and it has been on my mind). It turned out wonderful, rich and creamy but not overwhelmingly heavy. The hazelnut add a nice crunch to it and overall as far as chocolate go, it was very satisfying. I made it again last week-end for another chocolate lover’s birthday – my mom, Bonne fête encore maman! – and it did a great job there too. A new classic.
If you are in the Toronto area I would like to encourage you to participate and come to a bake sale to raise funds for Japan on April 9 and 10. The details are here. Big big thank you to Heena and Niya for organizing this. It is awesome and I can’t wait (to participate + get a huge stack of baked goodies).
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
1 large tart (12 in diameter)
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup butter
- pinch of salt
- 4-5 tbsp cold water
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¾ cup heavy (35%) cream
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup heavy (35%) cream
Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and put them in the oven until they are browned, about 10 minutes. Remove them, let them cool and chop finely.
Reduce the temperature of your oven to 325F. In a bowl put the flour and the salt. Add the butter and pinch in until you have pieces that are the size of peas. Add the water gradually and mix until you get a ball of dough. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, put it in the pie pan and bake for 15 minutes until golden.
While the pie crust is baking, put the ¾ cream and the milk in a small pan and heat to a boil. Put the chocolate chips in a bowl. When the milk and cream starts to boil, pour over the chocolate chips and stir well until they melt. Add the egg and the sugar and stir them in well. Once the pie crust is done, pour the chocolate mixture in it and add the chopped hazelnuts. Bake at 325F for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool completely.
When the tart is cooled, make the ganache to go on top. Put the ½ cup chocolate chips in a small bowl and the ¼ cup cream in a small pan. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir well until they melt and pour this mixture over the tart. Decorate with 3 hazelnuts or as you wish.