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.

sundays with justin: a lesson in ganache

Justin and I had so much fun the last time we visited that we decided to meet up again.

Only this time we worked on a collaboration.

I baked the cake.  Actually … two small cakes.  Chocolate & banana.  Top that with a Sailor Jerry’s rum syrup & rum chocolate ganache … you have yourself an afternoon in the kitchen with Justin Rogers.


Mother of pearl YES!

It turns out … everything I thought I knew about making chocolate ganache was wrong.

My goal is always pretty simple when making ganache … I just want something that is thick enough to cover an entire cake and not look dull or cracked.

1.  I thought that you bring cream up to a simmer.


According to Justin’s instruction – getting it that hot throws off the tempering processes … ensuring that your chocolate ganache will be dull and flat … not shiny and rich looking.  If you have an instant thermometer you should aim for about 65 degrees.

2.  I thought that you should have equal parts chocolate to cream.

Wrong …in some instances.

According to my lesson if you are making a white chocolate ganache you should actually double the amount of white chocolate to cream ratio … unless you want to make a whipped white chocolate ganache topping … then you would have slightly more white chocolate to cream (300g white chocolate to 250g heavy cream and 25g corn syrup).

3.  I thought you had to pour your hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before stirring.


If you leave it that long … it won’t be the right temperature to temper the chocolate (especially if you’ve heated your cream properly).  Allow to sit for about 60 seconds and then stir.  The 60 seconds allows the cream enough time to penetrate the chocolate pieces and get the melting process started.

I also learned that the following can be used in making a ganache.

Corn syrup.  Gelatin.  Sugar. 

I know!  And here we all thought it was a simple task of boiling cream and pouring it on top of chocolate pieces.

Well … that does work too.  But check out what I was able to do with Justin (ok … to be honest, Justin did it all – I asked questions and took pictures … but I put in my time baking the cakes that morning before heading over to his kitchen).

Pretty eh?

Yeah … we impressed the pants off everyone who saw it … plus it tasted pretty awesome.

The one thing that I realized when working with Justin is that every single step is really important … and goes into creating the final, professional looking finished product.

1.  Make a simple syrup.  Use it on the cake.  It works to moisten all those crumbs that have a way of ruining a frosting or ganache.

2.  Once you cover the cake (top and sides) with the syrup … stick it in the freezer for a little bit.  Not too long.  Just long enough so that the cake is firm and not moist to the touch.

3.  Cover the cake in a first layer of ganache.  Seriously.  It creates the smooth work surface that the second ganache layer clings too.

4.  And yes.  When I say first layer of ganache … I mean you have to make two different ganaches.

One with cream, water, dutch cocoa powder, chocolate disks and gelatin.

The second with cream, chocolate disks and corn syrup.  Oh … and rum.  Lots of good rum – added to it once the cream has been added.

5.  Once you’ve poured the warm cream over the chocolate disks … you can continue using heat.  Use a heat gun … or blow torch … or hair dryer (on highest heat) … moving it over and under your bowl will allow a little more heat … plus it’s a cool tool to use in the kitchen!

6.  Blend your ganache well … Once you’ve mixed it by hand and let it sit a little … blend it again!  If you’re making enough you can use your food processor … you want it to be really well combined.

7.  Strain your mixture before each use … once before pouring it over the cake (to remove air bubbles), and again if you are going to re-use the ganache that falls on the parchment paper underneath your cake.

And then …

Have fun decorating the cake!!!!

Justin stuck to very classic french … a little gold dust with some almond pieces along the sides.  I chose to decorate with chocolate chips … inverted so that the tips stuck in the cake and the flat end created a cool effect …

I love both!

*bakers note:  please read the recipe below carefully … I didn’t the first time and kinda messed it up … :0)

chocolate – banana cake



1/2 c. + 1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

1/4 c. + 2 tbsp boiling water

1 large banana, peeled

1/4 c. + 2 tbsp sour cream

2 eggs

3/4 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 + 1 tbsp flour, sifted

1 c. sugar

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c. + 2 tbsp butter, room temperature

read carefully … this is where I went wrong the first time I made this cake…

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 30 minutes.

Now …

Preheat your oven to 375 F and spray a 9 inch round pan with non-stick spray (or bake two 6 – inch rounds).  Set aside.

Using your food processor … process the banana and sour cream until smooth.  Pulse in the cocoa mixture, vanilla and eggs.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand – mixer (this recipe does require a bit of clean-up), mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt on low speed for about 30 seconds.  Add the butter and half of the mixture from your food processor.

Mix on low speed until all the dry ingredients are moistened.  At that point, increase the speed to medium and beat for 90 seconds.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Return to a low speed, add the remaining banana-chocolate mixture from your food processor, in two parts, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition.

You’ll notice that the batter is pretty light and creamy.  It also tastes insanely good. :0)

Bake the cake for 35 – 45 minutes (again … this will depend on which size cake pan you use and your oven … my small cakes took 25 minutes … my larger one closer to 50).

Let the cake cool on a wire rack in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Then run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake and invert it the wire rack to allow it to cool completely.

simple syrup

3 tbsp water

1/2 c. sugar

In a saucepan, stir together the water and sugar until all the sugar is moistened.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, add some rum if using … or vanilla extract for a non-alcoholic syrup.

Generously brush the syrup over the top and sides of your cake.  Allow to chill in the freezer for a few minutes.

chocolate ganache

ok … I’m going to be honest … I can’t re-create Justin’s ganache yet.  So … that will have to come.  I’ll be practicing over the holidays though … so recipe update to come. 

Until then … a classic ganache recipe would be:

225 g chocolate disks

225 g cream

25 g corn syrup

Heat cream and corn syrup to 65 degrees.  Mix well (the corn syrup will likely fall to the bottom of the bowl).  Pour over the chocolate disks.  Allow to sit for 60 seconds and then mix … stirring until smooth.

Pour through a strainer and allow to sit a bit to thicken.

Place your cake on top of a wire rack, which should be sitting on top of a piece of parchment paper.

Once your ganache is thick enough, pour it over your cake … start on the outside of the cake and work your way to the centre.  It’ll drizzle over the sides naturally.

Remove the cake from the wire rack (a metal spatula is great for this), place it on a clean plate and start decorating …

Ganache can be stored in your freezer for up to 3 months … so don’t throw away everything that ends up on the parchment paper.  Strain it and save it!