Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Shortbread Crust

As long as I was going to be doing something completely different for Christmas dinner, I wanted something really spectacular for dessert. It would have to be chocolate and totally unlike anything I had ever attempted. That’s a pretty tall order. I surprised myself, finding exactly what I wanted rather quickly: Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Shortbread Crust. Mmmm…chocolate…hazelnut…shortbread. Perfection.

I decided to go all out and buy a tart pan rather than making do with a pie plate. And so began The Great Tart Pan Hunt. The hunt spanned two days and three malls. I visited kitchen specialty stores including my favorite, Williams Sonoma, and various department stores. And came up empty. Either the store(s) didn’t carry tart pans or they had tart pans but in the wrong size or carried a glorified pie plate (slanted sides) with little ridges on the inside giving the illusion of a tart pan as opposed to a tart pan with straight, crimped sides.

In the end, I was forced to do what I had been trying to avoid. I went to There, I found a nice selection of tart pans in various sizes, manufacturers and materials. I read all of the reviews and ordered that one that best suited my recipe. I hate malls, especially during the holiday season, but in these difficult economic times, I was willing to make an exception and brave the crowds to help out my local brick and mortar stores. But I can’t help them if they don’t have the merchandise I need.

I had another briefer hunt, for unflavored gelatin. Three grocery stores before I found anything other than Jello. Buying Kahlua was a whole lot easier. In fact, I had a choice of sizes and purchased a smaller bottle. The recipe called for 1 tablespoon so normally I would have left it out, but I had other plans for the Kahlua. I did skip the hazelnut oil, substituting canola oil. I happened to have whole-wheat flour on hand. Not the pastry flour as called for in the recipe, but I thought I could substitute it with no problem. Another substitution that I made that worked out well was lightly rubbing canola oil on the tart pan in place of the recommended cooking spray of which I had none.

I used the egg whites from the two yolks instead of dried egg whites. There is a note accompanying this recipe that dried egg whites are pasteurized and a wise choice when making an uncooked filling. Thankfully, using raw egg whites was not detrimental to my health and I was able to sample this dish and review it.

When I first read over this recipe, it seemed incredibly complex. I hate recipes that have too many steps, but I found that by following each step exactly, everything flowed beautifully. It was surprisingly easy to make.

As for the taste, well that was a little disappointing. The hazelnut shortbread crust was heavenly. It would make a great cookie. The filling was too light, both the texture and the taste. I would have preferred a denser texture and more chocolate-y taste. Overall though, it wasn’t bad.

Verdict: Not bad, but I won’t be making this again

Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Shortbread Crust
(source: EatingWell: November/December 2008)

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup hazelnuts
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil, or canola oil
1 tablespoon ice water

1 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon water
¾ cup low-fat milk
2 large egg yolks
2 ½ tablespoons plus ¼ cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua (optional)
4 dried egg whites, reconstituted according to package directions (equivalent to 2 egg whites)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400°F.

To prepare crust: Coat a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray. Combine whole-wheat pastry flour, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, hazelnuts, ¼ cup sugar and salt in a food processor; process until the nuts are finely ground. Add butter one piece at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition, until incorporated. Add oil and ice water and pulse just until incorporated. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan (it will be crumbly), spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom and all the way up the sides to form a crust.

Bake the crust until set and the edges are beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

To prepare filling: Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl; let stand, stirring once or twice, while you prepare the rest of the filling.

Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until steaming (but not boiling); remove from the heat to cool slightly.

Whisk egg yolks, 2 ½ tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon flour in a medium bowl until combined. Gradually whisk in ½ cup of the hot milk. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining hot milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (do not boil), about 1 minute. Remove from the heat; whisk in chocolate until completely melted. Whisk in the softened gelatin and coffee liqueur (if using) until smooth.

Beat reconstituted egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Gently fold the chocolate custard into the egg whites until blended. Spoon the filling into the crust; smooth the top with the back of a spoon and chill, uncovered, until set, about 1 hour.

Recycle: oil bottle, milk bottle, Kahlua bottle

Compost: egg shells

1 comment:

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