A package showed up on our doorstep a few days ago, sending Dudette into gyrations of joy. Gyrations of joy up until the point where I saw the international stamps and told her that the package was not, in fact for her, but for me. At which point I began the gyrations of joy and she continued to perfect the art of the pout.
The package contained chocolate. Not just any chocolate. This was a bag of Hotel Chocolat’s 70% Dark Chocolate Drops
, or as they say, “easy melt baby buttons of gorgeous chocolate” Can I hear an amen? Receiving the chocolate meant that it was time to open the cookbook for which my baby buttons fit perfectly, the 101 Best Loved Chocolate Recipes
I had already tabbed the dessert I was going to make with these baby buttons and was anxiously awaiting their arrival, so this weekend I dove right in. The air was saturated with chocolate as I used both the cocoa powder and the chocolate drops to make the Chocolate, Orange and Pine Nut Tart. What a treat this would be for our regular Saturday night guests.
It all begins with the recipe itself. 101 Best Loved Chocolate Recipes has been a joy for me because I’ve been introduced to some amazing new chefs, most from countries other than the United States. The creator of this recipe is one of those; Chef Alex Mackay. I’ve learned that I like his style, his presentation and his philosophy of cooking.
For instance, he says; “Cooking is everlasting, ever changing, magical fun. I cook all the time, very often three times a day. I cook for work, I cook to relax, I grow things that I want to cook and I read about how best to cook them. And I really love to talk and write about it.”
I love that quote.
Chef Mackay’s tart begins with a chocolate shortbread pastry crust. Aren’t you in love with the dessert already? The ingredients, which include butter, confectioners’ sugar, egg yolk, flour, cocoa powder and water, are mixed together, gathered into a ball, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.
While the crust chills, the orange zest and syrup are made and simmered and the filling is prepared, both of which are straightforward and simple enough. Unless your child is sick and napping and you don’t want to wake her up by running the hand blender in order to whisk the egg whites until firm.
In truth, I’ve seen chefs on Iron Chef America use a hand whisk so many times to beat egg whites, I figured there was nothing to it. Until I tried. It takes a long time and a lot of forearm endurance to whisk egg whites until their firm. I was half-tempted to redefine the term, especially after I read on and saw that I needed to add sugar a tablespoon at a time and “continue whisking until stiff.” (Insert audible snort here.) That’s why they’re on television and get paid the big bucks.
Once the egg whites are stiff and body parts have been sufficiently rested, egg yolks and cocoa powder are gently folded into the whites until blended. Then the chocolate buttons, which have been melted in a bowl over a simmering pan of water and joined with butter and orange zest, are added in and mixed well but carefully. The filling is poured into the crust, sprinkled with pine nuts and put in the oven.
I didn’t mention the rest of the procedure with the crust, did I? That’s because I had one of those “this never happens in a test kitchen” moments. I’ve lost my removable bottom tart pan. I had one and now it’s gone. It could be that it didn’t make it when we moved to this house (but you think I’d remember that). It could be that Hubby tossed it for some reason (it happened once with a springform pan bottom because he thought they were disposable), but after aforementioned incident I don’t think he’d do that again. I don’t know where it is. So, I had to use my non-removable bottom dish.
Honestly, the best thing that a using non-removable pan does is enable the crust to be less than perfect. I’m sorry, Chef Mackay. I tried very hard, but my crust left a lot to be desired aesthetically. The flavor and shortbread deliciousness is there, but I’m glad that the sides of the pan hide the sides, which are uneven and a bit lumpy. I feel badly because as you’ll see in the recipe, a lot of time is spent explaining how to do the crust perfectly. ::sigh::
Anyhow, once the tart was removed and cooled, I dusted it with powdered sugar and topped it with my orange zest, which I made into narrow strips instead of wide ones. The wide ones look prettier but the narrow stripes become orange worms to a 4 year-old and that’s more fun.
As many know, I am unable to judge desserts such as this because I am not a fan of chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the farther from fandom I go. So I counted on our Saturday group to render their verdict and a positive one it was. Pieces were devoured and plates scraped clean. The dish’s chocolate was too dark for Dudette’s enjoyment, which makes me believe that this is solely an adult confection. That being the case, I’ll bet it would be wonderful with a splash of Cointreau in the filling along with the orange zest.
Hotel Chocolat and Chef Mackay, thank you for another delicious chocolate dessert.
Chocolate, Orange and Pine Nut Tart
from Hotel Chocolat’s 101 Best Loved Chocolate Recipes
Chocolate Shortbread Pastry:
80g (5 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
50g (just under 1/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar, plus extra to dust
1 egg yolk
80g (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour, plus extra to dust
40g (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cold water
Orange Zest and Syrup:
200g (just under 1 cup) granulated sugar
75g (just over 1/4 cup) dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids), chopped
50g (3.5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, diced
4 eggs, separated
50g (just under 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
40g (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder, sifted
50g (just under 1/4 cup) pine nuts
For the chocolate shortbread pastry, mix all the ingredients together until smooth, either by hand or in the food processor (the dough will seem very wet). Flour your hands well and shape the mixture into a flat circle. Wrap it in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes to firm up before rolling.
Pare the zest from the oranges in long, fine wide strips, using a swivel peeler and set aside. Next, peel away all the white pith. Segment the oranges over a bowl to catch the juice and squeeze the juice from the membranes, too. Put the segments to one side.
Blanch the orange zests in a pan of salted water for 1 minute, then refresh under cold running water. Repeat this process, then put the zests into a small pan with the reserved juice and the sugar (but not the segments). Simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes until the zests are translucent. Remove with a slotted spoon and l
ay half of them on a piece of greaseproof paper. Chop the other half as finely as possible and put into a small bowl. Add the orange segments to the remaining syrup and reserve for serving.
Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5 (it’s 374F so round down to 370). Set a 20cm flan ring on a baking sheet. To roll out the pastry, place it on a large sheet of floured cling film on your work surface. Dust the pastry with flour and top with another sheet of cling film. Roll out to a round slightly larger than your flan ring, giving the pastry a quarter-turn between rollings to ensure an even thickness. Chill for about 15 minutes.
Remove the top layer of cling film and drape the pastry over your rolling pin. Lift it over the top of the flan ring, with the other layer of cling film uppermost. Ease the pastry into the sides of the tin before pressing down the edges. Remove the cling film.
For the filling, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir in the butter and reserved chopped orange zest, then remove from the heat.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until firm, then gradually whisk in the sugar a tablespoon at a time, and continue whisking until stiff. Fold in the lightly beaten egg yolks, then gently fold in the cocoa powder with a spatula. Take a third of this mixture and stir it vigorously into the still-warm chocolate. Carefully fold this into the remaining whisked egg white, then turn the mixture into the lined flan ring.
Sprinkle the pine nuts over the filling and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until firm around the outside, but still slightly runny in the center. Transfer the tart to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the ring. Let cool to room temperature, but don’t refrigerate.
When ready to serve, dust generously with powdered sugar and top with the reserved candied orange zests. Serve accompanied by the orange segments in syrup.*
*Orange segments in syrup: Another thing that doesn’t happen in test kitchens. “Mommy, can I eat that orange? PLEEEAAASSSEE?” No orange segments in syrup for my recipe this time.