double chocolate tart

Oh my goodness. I’ve just realized that it’s Valentine’s day and I haven’t posted a recipe yet.

Which is such a shame because this recipe … it kinda TOTALLY rocks!

double chocolate tart

It’s all about a rich chocolate mousse encased in a dark chocolate pastry shell and then topped with light meringue: torched to perfection. Consider it a s’mores tart only without any graham crackers. Or marshmallows. So not a s’mores tart at all. It’s a double chocolate tart made for lovers. Or non-lovers. Or platonic friends. It’s a tart that shows that *special* someone that you care about them; and that you want them to eat something delicious on the *most* romantic day of the year.

You might think it’ll be too sweet.  It’s not.

You might think it’ll be too decadent. It’s not.

You might think you can’t possibly make it. You can.

All you need to do is break it down into three simple steps:

Chocolate pastry dough – easy

Chocolate mousse filling – super easy

Meringue – simple

That’s it. I have faith that you can make this. Quite frankly, this is a good tart. You should make it for that reason alone. Forget Valentine’s day; bake this because you love to bake and you love chocolate.

double chocolate tart

ingredients:

¼ c. cocoa powder

1 ½ c. flour

125 g cold butter, cubed

½ c. icing sugar

3 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the meringue)

1 tbsp iced water

1 egg white

chocolate pastry dough ingredients

Place the cocoa, flour, butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor (using the dough blade) and process until the mixture is incorporated. Not quite breadcrumbs, slightly larger than that.

While the motor is running, add the egg yolks. Once they have been incorporated, add the iced water. You’ll notice that this is when the dough really comes together.

ps – you’ll notice that in the photo above I added the egg yolks at the beginning. no big deal. the pastry still comes together.

patting the dough into the tart pan

That’s it. You’re done. Place the pastry dough in your tart pan – I start by putting it all in the middle of the pan and then by using my fingertips, I gently press the dough along the base and up the sides. I’ll be honest, I get enough pastry dough to line both a 9-inch tart pan and a 9 x 3 rectangular tart pan.

unbaked tart shell

Brush the tart base with your lightly beaten egg white and then chill for 20 minutes.

Heat your oven to 325 F.

When you’re about ready to pre-bake the tart shell, use a fork to pierce the top of the dough – go crazy! You want to ensure that the dough doesn’t puff up as it bakes, so pierce away!

Bake on a low rack in your oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Time to make the decadent chocolate mousse.

chocolate mousse

ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 eggs, separated

¼ c. sugar

½ c. heavy cream

½ tsp vanilla

Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and beat the chocolate with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Transfer chocolate to another bowl, use a whisk to beat in the egg yolks. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill.

Beat the egg whites with half the sugar (2 tbsp) until they hold stiff peaks. Set aside. Beat the heavy cream with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar and the vanilla until it holds in soft peaks.

Remove the chocolate from the fridge and spoon a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. It will lighten the chocolate a bit. Fold in the remaining egg whites, a little at a time. You want to be gentle because this is where the airiness of the mousse comes from.

Fold in the cream.

Refrigerate until chilled, and slightly thickened. This isn’t a very stiff mousse, but it does become gorgeously thick as it chills.

Fill the pastry shell with the chocolate mousse. Return to the fridge while you make the meringue.

layer of mousse

bakers note: I decided not to make an Italian or Swiss meringue for this tart and stuck with the traditional French meringue. Any of the meringue types will work – this is just the simplest version.

meringue

ingredients:

3 egg whites

good pinch of cream of tartar

1/3 c. sugar

In the bowl of a stand-mixer, using the whisk attachment, slowly start to beat the eggs until they foam, add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed until you’re at medium-high speed, and slowly add the sugar. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, increase the speed to as high as it’ll go. Beat until you get stiff peaks when you lift the whisk attachment out of the bowl.

layer of meringue on chocolate mousse

completely covered in meringue

Cover the layer of chocolate mousse with the meringue; then grab that torch of yours - and torch the meringue until it’s toasty and golden!

torhced

Chill your tart in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

almond milk chocolate pudding coconut tarts

20130507-153151.jpgWho doesn’t love chocolate pudding? And I don’t mean jello pudding cups … I mean homemade chocolate pudding … richness and sweetness and creaminess and deliciousness all rolled into one spoonful of joy.

How about we toss in a coconut pastry crust … and turn it into a tart? Does that make it even more appealing?

I am unabashedly in love with this combination.

This recipe came on my radar when (surprise surprise) I came upon it on pinterest. The picture I pinned promised me the best chocolate pie recipe ever. Who can resist that?

I clicked to follow the link to the original source, and was introduced to Kelly and her mammy’s chocolate pie.

Who doesn’t love something grandma made?

I fell hook, line and sinker for it … have made it several times over the last two and a half weeks … and tweaked it to what it is today.

The first time I made it … I stuck to the original. Pastry crust and chocolate pudding filling. Rather than top it with toasted meringue … I opted to pipe a little whipped cream. A little added decadence to a very simple recipe.

After that … I thought: I like chocolate and coconut together. Why don’t I made a coconut pastry crust?

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Done.

Kelly’s grandma’s recipe evolved to include a dressed up base. I opted to make them both into mini tarts (using muffin pans lined with cupcake liners) and a rectangular tart.

Dee-light-FUL!

Then it was time to fiddle around with the chocolate pudding. I replaced the milk with almond milk. I tossed in a teaspoon of espresso powder, swapped the butter for coconut oil and … bam! I ended up with one of my favourite things.

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I love how creamy the pudding is, how crispy the pastry is … and when you put them together …

Happiness in a bite. Or several bites.

I’m gonna tell you … it’s a little messy.

You see, the coconut crust isn’t like regular pastry dough that I roll out, and then shape to fit into my cupcake pans or regular tart pans. This dough doesn’t cover the base and go up the sides, ensuring a perfect little conduit for the chocolate pudding.

No. This coconut crust is more like a shortbread crust, and so it’s a little more difficult to mold as well as traditional pastry dough.

But who cares right?!

I combined all the ingredients and then pressed pieces of the dough into the base of the cupcake pan / tart pan / mini tart pan (I told you … I’ve made these multiple times: multiple baking vessels have been used).

The coconut pastry is then blind baked until it’s crispy. Cooled and then topped with almond milk chocolate pudding.

Crunchy base, creamy centre … top with a dollop of whipped cream …

Perfection in my opinion. You should probably try it … immediately.

almond milk chocolate pudding coconut tarts

ingredients:

almond milk chocolate pudding

2 c. almond milk

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp flour

1 c. sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp espresso powder

1/4 c. cocoa powder

3 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp coconut oil

Combine the almond milk, cornstarch, flour, sugar, salt, espresso powder, cocoa powder and egg yolks in a medium saucepan.

Cook over medium-low heat, whisking continuously. It’ll take about 10 minutes, be patient, but it’ll thicken nicely (make sure you whisk along the sides of the saucepan so that the custard doesn’t stick to the bottom).

Once it’s just about to bubble, remove the saucepan from heat. Stir in the vanilla and the coconut oil. Once incorporated, pass the custard through a strainer. You want to get all those little bits out so that you end up with the smoothest pudding possible.

Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge.

almond milk chocolate pudding. Done.

coconut pastry dough

1 1/2 c. flour

3/4 c. flaked coconut

3/4 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

10 tbsp coconut oil (melted if it’s hardened)

Heat your oven to 350 F.

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Mix your flour, coconut, brown sugar and salt together.

Add the melted coconut oil. Mix until it comes together (it’ll look like wet sand … not mud, but wet sand).

Press into your tart pan / mini tart pans / cupcake pan.

Bake for 12 minutes. You might think it’s overkill. It’s not. You want a really crunchy tart shell.

Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

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The hard work is done. Now all you have to do is assemble. Generously top or fill your pastry crust with the chocolate pudding.

Bet you can’t eat just one (mini tart or slice).

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choux pastry challenge

I love making choux pastry. It’s the kind of recipe that is so ridiculously simple to make; but it packs such a punch – impressing the socks off of your friends and family.

That’s why we decided it would be the perfect baking crew challenge.

Simple recipe with jaw-dropping results. Win – Win.

I’ve been making choux pastry for the past several months; but I’ve only made eclairs: choux pastry filled with pastry cream (or eggnog pastry cream during the holidays) … so I decided that I wanted to make profiteroles. Little balls of doughy goodness filled with both whipped cream and chocolate chantilly (whipped chocolate).

Doesn’t that sound perfectly delightful?

I thought so.

Until I arrived for our baking crew gathering.

table of choux

Mother of pearl … was I ever impressed!

Tom & Aimee had decided on making swans. That’s right. Perfect little chocolate choux swans filled with chocolate chantilly.

showstoppers

A showstopper? Heck ya.

Meredith decided to up the ante a little by making a gateau st. honore. This decadent cake is made up of a base layer of puff pastry, ringed with choux pastry piped on the outer edge. The centre is filled with pastry cream, and then more cream puffs are baked and filled with whipped cream, dipped in caramelized sugar and then placed, side by side, on top of the choux pastry ring. A layer of piped whipped cream finishes it off.

Not only did Meredith make the choux pastry. She also went ahead and made the puff pastry.

So impressive.

I loved it.

slice of meredith's choux

Cory either couldn’t decide on what he wanted to make … or he really wanted to impress the heck out of all of us. Either way … the result was a plethora of absolutely delicious pastries.corys choux

Whipped dijon potatoes with rare beef and chives sandwiched between a little choux pastry bun.

Chocolate caramel variation of a Paris-Brest (a cream puff ring filled with flavoured cream): whipped cream, chocolate, caramel. I’d just like to mention that the caramel was perfectly bitter.

Caramel drizzled profiteroles filled with whipped cream.

Braided strawberry choux wheel with creme patisserie and creme chiboust. Another showstopper.

Ridiculous right?

Why I thought my little chocolate chantilly, whipped cream filled profiteroles were going to impress my friends … I do not know!

People keep asking what we do once we all sit down and start to eat our baked treats. Well … this challenge was a perfect example of the baking crew at its best.

A great choux pastry is light and airy on the inside (it puffs up as it bakes), but has a crust on the outside. Make sense?

Since we all used different recipes, we were able to compare the different results.assortment of choux

Tom & Aimee used the Thomas Keller recipe – which called for them to rest the choux pastry overnight, as well as bake it for 75 minutes … we all agreed they could have used a little longer in the oven. It wasn’t quite crispy enough. But in impressive factor … they knocked it out of the park.  They made chocolate swans!  Who doesn’t love a chocolate swan?

Cory had a similar issue with all his choux. I thought his was the best flavour, but it didn’t puff up quite as much as he would have liked. Since we had so many to choose from … I’d have to say that the braided strawberry choux wheel was addictively delightful. Think of it as an updated strawberry shortcake … only 100 million times better. It was THAT good.

Meredith’s gateau st. honore had a great texture and flavour: add to that rich pastry cream and perfectly flakey puff pastry … you’ve got yourself a real winner.

I’d tell you more about my profiteroles … but really … they were a little ho hum. I found after tasting the others choux that mine was a little too eggy. I can claim to having the best exterior crunch and puffy interior … as proclaimed by the baking crew, not my own huge ego ;0)