Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TWD: Grand Chocolateapalooza Finale - Chocolate Cream Tart



April has been quite a chocolatastic month for TWD. Sure, we started out the month exploring the coconutty, lime-y and banana-y end of the dessert spectrum, but by mid-month we were solidly into chocolate, and we haven't looked back. As the only reliable chocolate eater in my house (my kids would pick Skittles over chocolate - where did I go wrong?) I sort of found myself on my hands and knees last weekend, clawing and scratching my way to the chocolate finish line. But boy, am I ever glad I made it there, because this Chocolate Cream Tart is certainly the best chocolate dessert I've ever made, possibly one of the best I've ever eaten, and absolutely among the handful of the best desserts I've made since joining TWD.

The tart calls for Dorie's chocolate shortbread tart dough. This is a pretty simple dough -- mix up flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in the food processor, and then cut in some butter and an egg yolk and mix until "clumps and curds" form. I might as well just come out and say it: I've got pastry issues. I just can't stop mixing it. I want to stop, I know I should stop, but then there's my finger on the "pulse" button again. Dorie provides the best, clearest directions for pastry dough -- she even tells you that the mixer will start making different sounds when the dough is almost ready, and it really does -- so as long as you don't have pastry dough OCD like I do, you should have no trouble with this.

My slightly overmixed dough after being turned out onto work surface:


The other great thing about Dorie Greenspan recipes, thankfully, is that they are generally pretty forgiving. So you can overmix the crust a little bit, as I did, and it will still taste great. I could tell that mine didn't have that perfect shortbread consistency, but it was very good, and when it came together with the chocolate pastry cream and the whipped cream, it was downright incredible. A tad crumbly, though - I made four 4" mini tart crusts, and two of them kind of fell apart on me. But those pieces worked great in parfaits!

I thought the chocolate filling was the star of this show. Making it, of course, involves that whole custard making process, which for me is inherently stressful. Adding to the usual custard stress was the realization -- after I started boiling the milk and whisking together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch -- that I didn't have enough bittersweet chocolate -- whoops! At that point hubs was not home, and I had three sticky, sandy kids, so I did a quick analysis and decided that losing my pastry cream would suck less than taking my kids to the grocery store at that moment. Fortunately, the pastry cream was as forgiving as the crust, and graciously agreed to come together for me in fits and starts over a two hour period.


The night I made these tarts, David and I went out to dinner at one of the restaurants owned by one of our little town's favorite sons, James Beard Award-nominated (that's why he's a favorite son) Frank Stitt. David ordered dessert, but in an unprecedented move that is likely to never again be repeated, I did not. Because I knew that I had Dorie's chocolate cream tart waiting at home, and I was confident that it would rival anything that Frank could throw my way. When we got home, I prepared the tart for David's parents (our awesome babysitters - thank you!) and myself. And the three of us proceeded to be wowed by the tart as David looked on longingly. Okay, not really, he had just finished off a strawberry cheesecake twenty minutes earlier. But the tart eaters in the house really were wowed!

The three components of this dessert - the crust, the pastry cream, and the whipped cream topping, unite to create a spectacular dessert. Each part is good on its own, but it is not until the pieces come together that this tart becomes really special. What can I say, I'm kind of running out of English words/adjectives to describe the fabulousness of Dorie's desserts. As Jessica and I have discussed, pretty soon we are going to have to move into symbols, a la Prince, or interpretive dance. Suffice it to say that this tart is crazy good.

Kim from Scrumptious Photography chose this week's recipe. Kim has been one of my favorite bloggers from my early days in TWD. I swear I can just stare at her photographs all day long. In fact, come to think of it, some days I do. She is a supremely talented food stylist and photographer. Visit Kim's blog for the recipe, and for more eye candy (and eye cookies . . . eye brownies . . . eye pie . . . you get the idea.) Thank you for this incredible pick, Kim!

57 comments:

Tracey said...

Wow, that's one fabulous looking chocolate tart! I'm a huge slacker and haven't made mine yet but I'm excited to give it a shot after reading this post. So glad you enjoyed it as much as you did!

Megan said...

Yeah, I find myself scouring the thesaurus to come up with new adjectives. However, they all point to the same general direction: the tart was delicious!

Mary Ann said...

I love your post! Such great descriptions. Lovely tarts too.
I sent this one packing but tried a nibble of the crust and so, I have to agree it was divine!

mike said...

How funny - mine "broke" after baking too - I guess I didn't press them down after taking the foil off. Still great tarts though huh? Looks fantastic - EASY to put together - that's what I liked. You really captured the essence of the flavor of them - nicely done!

Cristine said...

Your tart looks wonderful!!!

Marthe said...

Sounds like I'm going to have to make these again some time: I left out the cream on top, 'cause I was taking these with me to work. I haven't had a bite of the finished tart, but I did have a nibble of the chocolate cream and that was amazing!!

Sophie said...

MMMMM....your tarte looks superb!! delicious!!

Steph said...

I agree, this was really delicious! Although, I kinda tried to lighten it up.. but it was still really good!

Jessica said...

Hahaha! Do you even find yourself wishing that you could put a sound bite in for the description? That way you could let someone else describe it for you? I like "crazy good" and I'm going to steal it. I need a new description.
I'm so glad that you liked this one. I felt the same way as you about getting to the end of this chocolate madness but the tart was definitely the right note to end on.

Audrey said...

I'm doing an interpretive droop because I decided (for some foolish, silly, inane, cowardly, crust-phobic) reason I decided to not to bake along this week. I'm kind of looking longingly myself...your little tart looks perfect, delicious, yummy, amazing, etc.

Natashya said...

This one sounds like a real winner!
So great of the in laws to babysit too, you are very fortunate to have them.

Amanda said...

Gorgeous! I absolutely was in love with this tart too! So creamy and delish. Even better after a day in the fridge MMMMMMMMM

vibi said...

...and to say that you almost stuck with scrapbooking and sewing hobbies, instead of baking and cooking!

See!? You would never have enjoyed that wonderful tart, nevermind make it... had you not gone through with this hobby!!!

I'm glad you stuck with it, and I'm glad to read that you are so proud and happy with yourself. You must, you deserve it... :)

Barbara Bakes said...

My kids prefer Skittles to chocolate too - weird! Your tart looks sinfully delicious!

Heather said...

ahhhh i am so craving chocolate right now!! this looks so good! i want to make it just to hear the different noises the food pro will make! so intriguing!

spike. said...

This was crazy good! and the perfect ending to a month of chocolate recipes.

Jamie said...

Looks great and glad you loved it...I too would pick skittles over chocolate any day of the week! :)

Jennifer said...

Your tart looks fantastic!!!!

MacDuff said...

Aren't YOU sneaky, posting at 12:01am? Hilarious. I'm glad you put the whipped cream on top - I did too, then saw Chocolatechic and got all nervous. But I'm glad you loved this - I did too.

Clivia said...

You're right. There aren't enough words to describe this chocolate dessert. I'm glad you enjoyed!

Kim said...

Your tartlets looks so good. This really was the best dessert. I had to go with parfaits as my tartlets were truly uncooperative.

Bridgett said...

Oh wow, I love this! I have been craving chocolate badly lately! Sadly, I might eat the whole thing myself.

Sara said...

looks awesome! I also have dough overmixing syndrome.

Leslie said...

Great post! I totally agree with you, this is probably the best chocolate dessert I have ever made. And you really hit it head on--Dorie's recipes are infinitely forgiving. I routine swap out, others use fat free milk, and it turns out great.

Kayte said...

Perfection...yours looks like absolute perfection! Always fun hearing about your baking adventures...I learn a lot over here. Most of all, I learn not to sweat the small stuff...love how you just roll with things.

chocolatechic said...

This was the piece de resistance of this month.

Barbara said...

This is next on my make something chocolate list; looks divine.

Jess said...

Excellent job - I missed out on chocolatepalooza, so I'm actually looking forward to trying this one. It turns out the baby doesn't even wake up when I turn on the stand mixer while he's in the sling, so I think I'll try it sooner rather than later...

Peggy said...

Wow Cathy. To say it was the BEST you have ever had! I am not cooking this week, but now I'm thinking I made a mistake and I will have to go back and make this soon. Now I'm dying to try it!!

pinkstripes said...

I'm glad it was a success for you. It was a spectacular dessert.

Jennifer said...

I'm running out of adjectives, too, describing a taste is almost as hard as describing a color.

I really enjoyed this tart, too, but am looking forward to the tiramisu cake, it's been forever since I made a cake!

myfamousrecipe said...

You know our dessert skills are getting pretty darn honed when you can skip dessert at Frank Stitt's restaurant in favor of your own delicious chocolate cream pie at home. I loved this, too, and plan to make it again and again!

The Blonde Duck said...

I want to come live at your house and eat myself stupid.

Mermaid Sweets said...

Glad you liked and nice descriptions, it sure was a big chocolate, yoke and dairy fest.

shortbreadsouth.com said...

I would love to go to Highlands, the cookbook is awesome.
You're right, this tart was just like what you might get at a place like that!

Di said...

Okay, I am _so_ jealous that you and David got to go out sans kids! =) Jamie's parents will be here for a visit in a couple weeks, and I'm really hoping that we'll get to sneak out by ourselves one evening.

Your tart looks great! I did tartelettes, too. I thought about dusting with cocoa powder, but I've done that quite a bit, so tried chocolate shavings instead. I need more practice.

j. d. e. said...

give your kids time. i too would pick skittles over chocolate when i was young (and naive?). i think it was a combination of the pretty colors and the variety of flavors...but i haven't had skittles in years now! it's all about the chocolate now. valuable life lessons have apparently been learned somewhere along the road.

Jill said...

I completely manhandled my crust when I pressed it into the pan. But it was still so good. I'm glad it was worth skipping dessert at the restaurant!

dharmagirl said...

i concur. the chocolate tart is phenomenal.

i hate that i never made it to any of stitt's restaurants during my 6 years in alabama...are they as wonderful as the reviews say?!?

SUGAR B said...

WOW! Is it really that good?! I need to make it next time then!

Yours look tart-tastic!

What's for Supper? said...

Great job!

Jules Someone said...

Your tart looks amazing! Alone, these components didn't work so well. But together! Holy smokes. I had a really crumbly crust as well.

Elyse said...

Wow! The tart looks super fabulous. I love that everything was so forgiving--from the crust to the pastry cream. Plus, best chocolate dessert ever? I've got to try this! (Oh, if we're confessing here, I'm a total dough-over-mixer, too :) )

Secret Server said...

It looks great and it sounds like you had a good night out. I love it that Dorie's recipes are "forgiving" and also am sometimes tempted to break out the thesaurus when posting.

Anne said...

I know what you mean about leaving dessert behind once you make your own fabulous things... it kind of makes you re-evaluate what's worth the calories! :) Your tart looks great and your hubby is missing out!

Teanna said...

Oh man you have TOTALLY sold me on this dessert and I have already had it! You make me want to make it again - minus the disasters!

Pamela said...

This tart was SO WORTH skipping dessert at the restaurant. It was delicious and I'm with you...I don't think I've ever made a chocolate dessert this good!! Bravo to us, right!

Gabe's Girl said...

I really need to make this. You are so funny. I love reading your blogs!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love coming here, you're so entertaining, your friends are lucky to listen to your stories in person, and to share this to die for tart!

Katrina said...

Love your post, as always. Glad you loved this forgiving tart! I will definitely try it again sometime with a not-so-bitter chocolate and such. Sure looks good in all the pictures! On to tiramisu!

bakingwiththeboys said...

The tart was so so so good. What I wouldn't give for Dorie to be at my house and force me to stop mixing. I need that kind of intervention.

What is with kids? Mine love jelly bellies and nerds and sweet tarts?? But, I remember consuming my share of pop rocks and fun dip so I am sure they will come around.

Katherine Aucoin said...

I love reading your posts. Although I don't really know you, I feel like we're hangning out and I;m lisitening to you bitch....in a funny good way.

Your tart looks fantastic, I can picture myself licking the pan and having chocolate all over my face!o

LyB said...

Your description of the tart is making me think about doing the recipe again but in tart form this time! :) Looks awesome!

AmyRuth said...

Hi Cathy, so impressed you were able to turn down dessert. Although this one was definitely worth it.
I had a little trouble with the tart shell too. I made the 9" and I had cracks in 3 places. Didn't slow me down much thought. I thought it was delish!! Forgiving yes it was....for I failed to have the chocolate melted at the proper point so I pulled the custard aside, quickly melted the chocolate in two bowls in the microwave (my favorite way) and popped it into the cooked custard. Worked like a charm. I thought rather easy to make. I can tell your custard issues are minimizing with each recipe post. Great work!! Thanks for the wishes BTW
AmyRuth

TeaLady said...

Fantastic looking tart. It was good, wasn't it. All the parts came together just right.

Brisbane forklifts said...

This is really good for desserts.. Yummy

Photographer Sydney said...

Delicious tart.. :)

 
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