chocolate – cranberry tart

I LOVE this recipe.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Layers of rich chocolate ganache and tart cranberry curd, topped with fluffy whipped cream; all a-top a light and flakey pastry.

Mother of pearl!

One bite will make you *oh so* happy.  The kind of happy that only chocolate, cranberries and whipped cream can make you.

It’s the kind of tart that not only tastes perfectly delicious; it looks gorgeous as well.  This should be on your holiday baking list.

It’s not even an overly complicated recipe.

Pastry dough.  Easy.

Chocolate ganache.  Easy.

Cranberry curd.  Easy.

Whipped cream.  Ridiculously easy.

All you need is a little time.  Time to blind bake your pastry dough.  Time to allow your ganache to set.  Time to top the ganache with the curd and allow that to set.  Once all those things are done … whip the heavy cream and top the tart.

Seriously … with the curd and pastry dough made in advance, this tart took me only 2 hours to complete from start to finish (and the prep work of curd and dough the night before was a total of 30 minutes).

You see?!  So little effort for such a spectacularly beautiful tart!

Imagine … presenting this to your friends and family.  The oohs and aahs …. and that’s before you give them a slice.

That’s when the real praise will begin.

I started by making the cranberry curd (thank you Kitchen Confidante for the original recipe)… that way it cooled in the fridge overnight and was ready for use when I was baking and assembling the tart.

chocolate – cranberry tart


basic pastry dough

cranberry curd

Combine the cranberries and water in a small saucepan, and cook, covered over medium heat ( juice and zest of an orange added to this step would be brilliant).  The cranberries will start to pop as they cook.  That’s when you know it’s ready to be taken off the heat.

Pass the cranberries through a strainer – you want to keep the liquid.  Use a spoon to push the cranberries through, remembering to scrape the underside of the strainer and keeping all those little bits for the curd.  Allow to cool slightly. 

bakers note: toss out the cranberry skin that stayed in the top of your strainer.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the yolks and egg until combined.  Add the sugar, and continue to whisk.  Add the cranberry purée to the saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring constantly.  The mixture will start to thicken, you don’t want it to start to boil, but you do want the curd to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat.

Whisk in the cubes of butter, ensuring that everything is well incorporated.

Pass the curd through a strainer, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool in the fridge.

While it cools you can make your pastry dough, allowing it to rest for at least one hour before rolling it out.

Once that’s all done … the really fun part begins.

Heat your oven to 350 F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your pastry dough.  Line your tart pan (you’ll notice that I rolled the dough out larger than the circumference of my tart pan); line it with parchment paper, and fill with dried beans.

Blind back on the lower rack of your oven for 20 minutes.  Remove the parchment paper and dried beans from the tart pan, return to the oven for a further 10 minutes of baking on the middle rack.

Once done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

bakers note: I used the entire batch of chocolate ganache … to have a bit more of a balanced tart (aka to taste the cranberry curd more) use less.

chocolate ganache

1 c. heavy cream

splash of vegetable oil

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, gently heat the cream and splash of oil.  You don’t want it to boil … just simmer.  Pour the heavy cream over the dark chocolate, using a spatula to stir the chocolate and cream together.  The ganache will thicken and smooth as you stir.

Pour it directly into the pre-baked tart shell.  Allow to cool and set (I usually put it in the fridge for this stage).

Once the chocolate ganache has set … top it with the cranberry curd.

I ended up returning the tart to the oven and baked it for a further 10 minutes at this stage. Middle rack at 350 F.  Once that was done, I cooled the tart on a wire rack.

whipped cream

3/4 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. powdered sugar

In the bowl of the stand-mixer, using your whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream at a fast speed, adding the powdered sugar.  You want the whipped cream to be stir enough that it holds its shape when piped on top of the tart … but you don’t want to over-whip it.

Once you get to that stage, fill a piping bag with a large star tip, and pipe the entire tart.  Working from the outside in … until the entire chocolate – cranberry tart is covered.

A thing of beauty to look at … and to eat.  The *perfect* kind of dessert.

Store this tart in the fridge.  Most of it disappeared within a few hours of slicing into it … but I did manage to keep a couple of slices for a few days.  It tasted just as good as the day I made it.


social restaurant & lounge

I’m going to start this post by admitting a couple of things …

1.  I haven’t eaten at social restaurant & lounge in … years.

2.  My last experience (years ago) wasn’t particularly memorable … and so while I’ve enjoyed many a cocktail at social, I’ve never opted to check out their food menu.

3.  My friend Justin Rogers (the chocolate guy) is the new floor manager.

Ok … now that you know that …

I am going to highly recommend that you give their new menu a try.


It’s pretty awesome.

Let me guess … you’re kinda wondering … how did we go from a blah dining experience to this?


Last Friday night – a couple of friends and I decided to get out: you could say it was a  ladies night.  We were aiming for cocktails and decided on social as our lounge of choice.

With that decision made … I let Justin know that we would be coming in … just hoping that we would see one another if he was working.

Well … that’s when Justin and the guys in the kitchen (and the front of the house) pulled out all the stops.

They made a special tasting menu for us.  No lies!  The menu actually said “welcome to the twisted chef and friends” … and it was delicious.  The starters, the mains, and the desserts … all DEE-LIC-IOUS.  The menu was varied, and each dish was carefully thought out.  I can tell you what my absolute favourite dishes were … and I can also tell you that I was not disappointed by a single thing I ate.   


The evening started off with a couple of starters.


hand cut tenderloin / egg yolk / pommery mustart / shallot / chive / tabasco / smoked maldon salt / crostini


rustic terrine / prune gastrique / pistachio / smoked maldon / arugula

My favourite of the two starters was the tartar.  I just kept piling little bits of the tartar on the crostini.  Melt in your mouth deliciousness. 

Having said that … don’t count out the rabbit terrine.  It was so texturally interesting … although I did find it a little salty.  This is when I learned how a good pairing can enhance your food experience.  Completely.  Justin paired the rabbit terrine with Armagnac de Montal.  It went from being salty to sweet.  Oh my goodness. 



qualicum bay scallops / pumpkin risotto / ginger lacquer / spiced sage espuma

My favourite dish of the evening.  Hands down … The.Best.

The scallop was perfectly seared … my fork just cut right through it.  And when paired with the pumpkin risotto … sigh.  A million sighs of happiness.  It was light and flavourful.  I would gladly return just for a plate of this.


house pancetta wrapped 1/2 bird / thyme / yam cornbread / squash purée / caramelized shallot jus

The pheasant was good.  It didn’t taste birdie (you know what I mean … when poultry just tastes too bird-like).  It looked and smelled so good that the vegetarian at the table couldn’t resist and ate half her portion.  The star of the plate though … was the squash purée.  We ladies liked it so much that we requested an extra portion of it … and proceeded to lick the plate clean.

You’d think after the first 4 dishes (and their pairings) we’d be full.

Have you ever met a girl who’s too full for dessert????

Especially a Justin Rogers dessert????



milk chocolate peanut butter mousse / compressed brownie / hazelnut cocolate bar / concord grape jelly

Mother of pearl.

That dessert. 


Seriously.  This was a moment.  I can tell you the chocolate peanut butter mousse – light and creamy.  The compressed brownie – dark and rich and decadent.  The hazelnut chocolate bar added a nice crunch … plus who doesn’t love hazelnut when eating chocolate?  None of us could stop eating.


upside down cranberry ginger cake / malted ice cream / cab franc ice wine reduction

This was a nice contrast to the chocolate dessert … but you have to love ginger to fully appreciate this option.  The spice of the ginger kind of took over the entire dish.  The ice cream played off the spice … but I have to admit … it’s the chocolate dessert we kept going back to (not that we didn’t clean this plate too!).20121108-113834.jpg

I wanted to also point out the incredible work in the kitchen.  Executive Chef Matt Hall, Sous Chef Richie Lo Presti, and Chef Jordan Holley (who I’m told is the one responsible for most of the new menu changes).  Mike Burke and Justin Rogers did the dessert menu, but it was actually Mario & William who plated the desserts for us.  Everything was beautifully plated, but more importantly … everything was cooked to perfection and delightful.  Oh yeah … and smart.  This was a smart menu. 

Thank you guys for testing these new dishes on us.  I think you can tell that I really truly appreciated my experience.

If you keep serving this kind of food … you won’t be able to keep me away!

*apologies for the delay in posting this blog … I hope that if you tuned in last Sunday this brings back happy chocolate thoughts … and if you missed the episode … perhaps you’d like to tune in on Saturday at 1 pm for the rerun … and don’t forget to watch the “decorating” of the mousse cake was all about chocolate this week.

Dark chocolate ganache.

White chocolate ganache.

Ganache covered almond marzipan sponge cake.

Lemon white chocolate chocolates.  With a twist.

If you wanted a little insight into chocolate … I think this episode was for you.

When I first started “story boarding”, I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to do an episode with Justin Rogers.

Justin is my chocolate guru. 

He is creativity and fun and talent all rolled into one. 

And he has a wicked sense of humour.

I think that the episode demonstrated that … as well as Justin’s attention to detail.

I guess you need to be that precise when you make something not only delicious … but oh so beautiful.