Friday, April 21, 2006

Chocolate and Crème de Menthe Tart

It’s often said that chocolate and orange are a match made in heaven. It reminds me of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Everyone seems to approve of it, but I think there’s something fundamentally wrong. Jangly. Nervy. Unnatural. Not quite right. But chocolate and MINT – now you’re talking. Maybe it’s Freudian – I must have had a traumatic experience with a jaffa when I was little – but I really have it in for chocolate and orange. I am a radical mint chocolate advocate.

I wanted a luxe dessert that could be served in small slices and have the effect of everyone feeling they’d been deviously naughty at Easter with a choccie overdose. The mere mention of it sending guests weak at the knees with eyes rolling back in their heads through sheer delight at the thought of eating it. And here it is. It worked. The first person to walk through the kitchen upon spying it cooling just out of the oven, looked past the Lindt 70% eggs, fresh baked breads and piles of salmon, fixed it with a round eyed glance and said “WHAT”S THAT!!!!!!!” loud enough for all to hear. I spake it’s name. They sighed, looked heavenwards and said “ahhhwwweerrghhhoooo”…. My work here is done.

With a densely overpowering rich mint chocolate filling that’s smooth and cocoa-y, rather than sweet, and a pastry as light and short as a hobbit jockey, serve with a sprig of mint and cream whipped with a dash of crème de menthe. Interestingly, when I tasted the raw mixture (as you do) it didn't taste very minty and I thought I'd just end up with a chocolate tart. Well that's not so bad, really. But once cooked, the mint flavour intensified immensely to provide a clean counterbalance to the rich chocolate.

Pastry (do make your own for this – it’s worth it):
225g plain flour
40g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
2 egg yolks
Blitz flour, icing sugar and cold butter in a food processor until it’s the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and process ‘til it comes together in a lump. If it looks dry add a few drops of cold water and blitz again. Dump onto cling wrap, encase in the wrap to form into a ball, and refrigerate for at least 30 mins. Take the cold pastry out of the fridge and roll onto a piece of baking paper. Lay another piece on top and continue rolling until it’s big enough to fit a greased 27cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Fit it into the tin and press into the edges and smooth out. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes. (Pastry tip: don’t trim the edges, but leave ½-1 cm above the edge of the tin. Refrigeration will help stop it shrinking, the extra pastry will help if it does happen to shrink, and if it scorches on second baking you have enough overlap to trim off the scorched bits for a clean-edged professional finish to your tart. Also, reserve a thumb sized piece of raw pastry in case a crack or split appears after baking it. You can patch it up before putting in the filling so it won’t leak out).

Line with baking paper and fill with beans or pastry weights and bake at 180°C for 10 minutes. Remove weights and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes until the base is dry and crisp. Leave to cool before pouring in the filling.

6 eggs
320 mls thickened cream
180g good quality chocolate – I used Valrhona Le Noir Gastronomie 61%
4 tbsp cocoa – Valrhona for me again (100% Cocoa, 0% Sugar, 21% Fat Content, Dutch Processed)
80 mls Crème de Menthe

Melt the chocolate and allow to cool. Combine cream, eggs, chocolate, cocoa and Crème de Menthe in a bowl and beat or whisk to combine. Pour into the tart shell and bake at 180°C for 20-25 mins or until the filling is just set. (Tip: don’t pour all the filling into the tart before putting it in the oven. Place it in half full and pour the rest in as it’s sitting on the shelf. That way you can fill it to the brim without risking an ugly bench-to-oven transfer spill. Also, keep a watch on the timing. Don’t overcook the filling or it won’t be as moist). Cool to room temp, don’t refrigerate, and serve. Die happy.

* recipe credit to Delicious mag from quite a few years ago.


Anonymous Helen said...

I used to feel the same about chocolate and orange, but like the infamous Heathrow Injection (land and suddenly gain 5kg), I soon found myself fawning over Terry's Chocolate Oranges like everyone else.

Your tart is a work of art. Ahhhwwweerrghhhoooo indeed!

10:11 AM  
Anonymous deborah said...

isn't the valrohna cocoa powder amazing! i love how even a teaspoon of the stuff in hot milk does amazing things to my mood.

i am a big fan of orange and chocolate and an even greater fan of mint and chocolate.the tart looks delicious.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous sue said...

Personally I like chocolate and orange. Mint I can give or take but this tart, my goodness! My husband loves mint AND chocolate - I shall store away this recipe for when I need to bribe him or when I've done something bad!

6:37 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Well chocolate and orange can polarise the food community but it's down to personal preference I guess!

Deborah - yes the Valrhona is THE best and sooooo smooooooth.

It's definite a special occasion one Sue and just try having one slice!

8:04 AM  
Blogger Ange said...

I love both chocolate & orange AND mint & chocolate, how to pick a favourite....

9:59 AM  
Blogger neil said...

Ah, darkened theatre, naughty boy, box of jaffas, how can that be wrong? ;-D

8:08 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

.... maybe he had after dinner mints? :)

7:33 AM  

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