If I could tell my past self one thing it would be to go with your gut instincts. I’m not talking about first impressions; I’m referring to that instinctual, pit-in-your-stomach feel that is like an alarm bell going off. It comes when you are walking into a job interview, or meeting new people. It hits you hard when you are walking down a quiet street, or upon your first date with a stranger. Tread carefully, it says. If I had listened to that teeny, tiny voice/feeling/emotion, I might have saved myself all kinds of complications. Bad living situations, awful jobs, disappointing friendships, horrific dates. You name it, that little gut reaction was always there but I ignored it, chalking it to paranoia.
Well, let me tell you friends. That gut instinct is NOT paranoia and from here on out, I’m listening to it.
For instance, if I had listened to that obnoxious yet important voice, this Chocolate Espresso Tart would have been done the first time around. Alas, I left my better judgement at the door and trusted a flawed recipe. One massive bowl of chocolate ganache, down the drain. It was heartbreaking, honestly. Any baker knows wasting 8 ounces of fine quality chocolate and heavy cream can reduce one to tears. However, instead of throwing in the towel, I bought more chocolate, guzzled coffee, and went at it again. Because I’m a masochist? Possibly, but I refused to let this recipe take me down.
I should preface this by saying that there is nothing hard about chocolate ganache. Melt chocolate and cream, mix, then let sit. Simple! However, when it comes to texture, you’ve got to be really careful. Silky ganache might be perfect for an ice cream sundae but not for piping on a tart, like this one suggested. So, after rinsing the chocolate out of my hair and nails, I did this chocolate ganache again, but my way. Because who needs chocolate piped rosettes on a tart? Not this gal. Instead, I melted the chocolate and cream, blended till smooth, then let sit for 60 minutes to thicken. Then, after the tart was baked and filling poured in, I topped the tart with this fine chocolate ganache. Easy and done. Just how I like it.
A few other notes about this recipe: it originally called for mascarpone cheese, which I am not a big fan of. It’s great in tiramisu, but I don’t like it on its own. Instead, I mixed cream cheese with vanilla and sugar and mixed till it was fluffy. The crust is like chocolate shortbread and was fairly easy to make. However, you could also try an all-butter pastry crust and spread a layer of chocolate ganache on the top of the crust, creating a ganache layer.
Chocolate Espresso Tart
Adapted from: Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts
Yields: 10 servings
For the crust:
For the ganache:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons good-quality ground espresso beans
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment paper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
For the cream cheese filling:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
Make the ganache: Put chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl, and set aside. Bring cream and espresso to a boil in a small pan. Pour through a fine sieve over the chocolate; discard solids. Let stand 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, 1 to 2 hours.
Make the tart shell: Sift flour, salt, and cocoa powder into a medium bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the cream. Shape dough into a thick circle; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough between 2 pieces of lightly floured parchment paper to a 11-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Press dough into a 9-inch circular tart shell on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Trim dough flush with top edge. Prick all over bottom of shell with a fork. Bake until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Unmold.
Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese and 3 tablespoons of sugar until mixing, around two minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and blend. Smooth cream cheese over bottom of tart shell with an offset spatula.
Pour chocolate ganache on top of the cream cheese to cover. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, one hour.
Wrapped tightly, tart will last two days in the refrigerator.