Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chocolate Cream Tart - Tuesdays with Dorie

whole chocolate cream tart

It's finally my turn to pick the recipe for TWD!! I was so excited to finally choose, but nervous at the same time. It's a big responsibility to choose a dessert for so many people ;) Anyway, after many vacillations I ended up choosing the Chocolate Cream Tart, which, according to Dorie, is a dressed-up version of a very American dessert, chocolate cream pie.

[chocolate cream tart recipe]
[chocolate shortbread tart dough recipe]

back side of tart slice

I was really happy with my pick! Although it had several components, it wasn't all that difficult to put together, and the combination of ingredients was amazing. As some people commented in the P&Q this week, the assembled tart was much tastier than each individual component.

tart slice with bite on fork

The tart is made with a chocolate shortbread crust, filled with a chocolate custard and topped with whipped cream. Dorie's recipe is not too sweet and really packs a lot of chocolate flavor.

The main flavor note is from whatever chocolate you use in the custard filling, so I used a very dark chocolate.

chocolate custard ingredients

The custard is similar to other custards we've made — whisk the egg yolks together with sugar, cornstarch and salt, temper the mix with boiled milk and then add the rest of the milk, and thicken over heat. Butter is whisked in at the end.

whisking eggs in saucierafter adding in milk
thickened custardwhisking in chocolate
chocolate fully mixed inwhisking in butter

I made the custard ahead of time and chilled it in the fridge until I was ready to make the rest of the tart. The crust is basically the same as the crust we made for La Palette's strawberry tart, except for the substitution of cocoa powder for half of the sugar.

Don't forget the salt! It's such a small amount, but really adds a kick. I usually add a little bit more salt than called for.

flourcocoa powder
powdered sugarbutter

(Sorry... forgot to take a pic of the egg yolk ;) )

The crust is assembled in the food processor, then pressed into a buttered tart pan. Dorie warns not to go overboard mixing the dough to keep a sandy texture... I think I did overmix a little, but it was still delicious!

dry ingredients in food processordry ingredients mixed
butter about to be cut inmixed dough
dough pressed into panbaked shell

Once the crust is cooled, fill it with the chocolate custard and then make the whipped cream :) (NOTE: I realized after publishing that I used the entire pint of heavy cream instead of the 1/2 cup called for in the recipe! That's why there is soo much delicious cream ;) )

whipped cream ingredients

Don't forget the chocolate decoration on top! Dorie suggested making chocolate curls with a vegetable peeler. I'm sure the curls would have been prettier if my chocolate was room temperature, but I didn't really want to wait.

chocolate curls

Then top the tart with whipped cream, and decorate!

tart with whipped cream on top

finished tart

Chocolate Cream Tart

For the filling:
2 cups (475 g) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp (12.5 g) sugar
3 Tbsp (7 g) cornstarch, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz (200 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted
35 g (2 1/2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature

1 9-inch Chocolate Shortbread Tart Dough, fully baked and cooled

For the topping:
1/2 cup (120 ml) cold heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbsp (11 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Chocolate shavings or curls for decoration, or cocoa powder for dusting

To make the filling:
Bring the milk to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until well-blended and thick. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk — this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they don't curdle — then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking constantly (make sure to get in the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the custard or, if you want to cool the custard quickly, put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the custard occasionally until it is fully chilled, about 20 minutes. (If it's more convenient, you can keep the custard, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

When you are ready to assemble the tart, whisk the chocolate cream vigorously to loosen it and to bring back its velvety texture. Spoon the cream into the tart shell, stopping just short of the crust's rim (you may have some left over) — you want to leave room for the topping. Smooth the top and, if you are not serving the tart immediately, press a piece of plastic wrap against the cream and refrigerate the tart until needed (or up to 6 hours).

To make the topping:
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream until it just starts to thicken. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks.

Spread the whipped cream over the tart and smooth it with a metal icing spatula or, if you prefer swirls, go for them. Serve the tart now or refrigerate it for up to 2 hours before serving. When you are ready to serve the tart, scatter chocolate shavings or curls over the top or, if you'd prefer, lightly dust the top with cocoa powder.

Chocolate Shortbread Tart Dough

156 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
22 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
26 g (1/4 cup) confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp salt
127 g (9 Tbsp) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, cocoa, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in — you should have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses — about 10 seconds each — until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change — heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly and sparingly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Press the dough into the buttered pan. Press evenly over the bottom and up the sides, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed — press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but no so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius, Gas Mark 5).

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust as necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

To fully bake the crust:
Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Keep a close eye on the crust's progress — it can get too dark in a flash. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To patch a partially or fully baked crust, if necessary:
If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gendly smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.

Nutrition Facts from NutritionData.com:
per 1/8th of recipe
[click to show or hide]

slice of tart with whole tart in background

Thanks to everyone who is baking along with me this week! :) I hope you loved the recipe as much as I did! Check out everyone else's tart on the TWD blogroll!

close up of tart with slice taken out


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

15-Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte

closeup of chocolate torte

I guess the busyness of the past few weeks has taken its toll, because this whole weekend I've been sick :( So, I was glad to see that the awesome Holly of PheMOMenon chose something called 15-Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte for this week's TWD, because I wasn't up for putting a lot of energy into it this week!

[chocolate amaretti torte recipe]

view of torte from above

I have a confession to make, though. I didn't use amaretti! We looked everywhere for them — an Italian specialty store, the regular grocery store AND Whole Foods. Nada. So I went with these butter cookies, which had almonds in them:

orange almond butter cookies

They worked and gave the final cake a nice orange flavor, so it was fine by me.

I cut this recipe down to 1/3 of the original, because I didn't want to pass on my sickness to anyone else by giving the torte away, and (probably more to the point) I forgot to buy eggs and only had one left. So, I used this chocolate souffle pan (thanks Annie!) to make two 3-inch cakes.

chocolate souffle pan

The cake allegedly takes 15 minutes to get from the cookie-processing stage to the oven. It took me 20 (but I blame taking photos for the extra time).

Almonds and cookies:

processed almond flour and cookies

Egg, sugar and butter:

egg, sugar and butter in processor

All together, plus chocolate:

batter almost done

Batter in the pan:

batter in the 3inch pan

20 minutes later, fully baked:

baked chocolate cakes

Not only did I not use amaretti, I also didn't have any heavy cream for the glaze. I just used butter.

glazed cakes

These are the ingredients/nutrition facts, as originally written (not as pictured!)

Chocolate Amaretti Torte

For the Cake:
6 amaretti cookies
3/4 c (~60 g) blanched slivered almonds
113 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
100 g (1/2 c) sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
113 g (4 oz) bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Glaze
113 g (4 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water

[full recipe instructions on Holly's blog]

Nutrition Facts from NutritionData.com:
per 1/8th of recipe
[click to show or hide]

whole mini cake

Thanks to Holly for this simple and chocolatey pick! Get the recipe on her blog: PheMOMenon. You can check out the rest of the tortes on the TWD blogroll!

torte with piece taken out


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Banana Cream Pie - Tuesdays with Dorie

piece of banana cream pie with bite on fork

Whew... the past few weeks have been kind of a whirlwind. My rugby season has started, I'm taking a studio lighting photography class, and I've been working on another project that I will tell you about soon! Anyway, I practiced some time management skills for this week's TWD and successfully baked up a Banana Cream Pie, the recipe chosen by our resident songbird, Amy of Sing For Your Supper :)

[banana cream pie recipe]

whole banana cream pie

I don't remember ever having banana cream pie before, but I'm glad I made this recipe -- it was really delicious! I really liked the cinnamon and nutmeg in the custard, and I think it added a level of sophistication to the pie.

sifting brown sugar

(Have you ever sifted brown sugar before?? Weird. I wonder if it actually made a difference!)

The main filling for this pie is a brown sugar custard with the aforementioned cinnamon and nutmeg, and I could really eat it all day. In fact, I think it would be amazing to churn it into ice cream with banana bits. Someone please do this and let me know how it is ;)

Making the custard:

eggs in pan

whisking eggs, sugarafter drizzling in the hot milk

butter about to be whisked infinished custard

My biggest challenge with this pie was the crust. I'd never really made a successful single-crust pie — the only other time I attempted it was for the Two-fer pie, and that was definitely not great-looking! (In that post, I blamed the shrinkage on the pie pan...HA!) My first attempt at the crust produced this:

bad pie crust

Totally shrunken and burnt. (After I removed the too-dark parts, it did still taste great, though!) So, I broke out my copy of Baking Illustrated to see what I'd done wrong. My crust looked exactly like the "unattractive crust" picture in there ;) Apparently there were a few cardinal sins broken during the first go-round, including letting the dough get too warm and not rolling it out to a large enough size (should be 4" wider than the pie pan).

My second attempt was a whole lot more successful, and I even got fancy with a crimped crust ;) It still shrank a little bit, but looked a whole lot more like pie crust than before.

pie crustpie crust

crimped pie crust

fully baked pie crust

Once the crust was cool, it was time to fill the crust with goodness. Take bananas:

ripe bananas

Cut into slices:

banana slices

Layer with custard (3 layers custard, 2 layers bananas):

banana layered with custard in pie shell

Then, when it looks like this:

pie crust filled

Top with a delicious whipped cream/sour cream mix, and serve immediately :)

pie in pan with slice cut out

Banana Cream Pie

For the Custard
2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
6 large egg yolks
107 g (1/2 cup packed) light brown sugar, pressed through a sieve
38 g (1/3 cup) cornstarch, sifted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (42 g) cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits
3 ripe but firm bananas
1 9-inch single pie crust, fully baked and cooled

For the Topping
1 cup (238 ml) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sour cream

[recipe instructions on Amy's blog]

Nutrition Facts from NutritionData.com:
per 1/8th of recipe
[click to show or hide]

Yikes. All I can say is... cut it into smaller pieces :)

piece of pie with full pie in background

Thanks to Amy for this delicious pick! The recipe is on her blog: Sing For Your Supper. You can check out the rest of the delicious pies on the TWD blogroll!

half eaten piece of pie