Monday, February 06, 2006

I'm A Tart ... A Tart for Chocolate

Not really. More a pale tart. And not really a tart unless you are referring to my acerbic wit. OK, OK ... I just liked the way the title sounded!

But seriously, I've been having a major chocolate craving recently after visiting
David Lebovitz's blog one time too many. I also had a packet of bittersweet chocolate drops which had been languishing in my pantry.

I have not baked since I moved into this apartment as I do not have an oven. Of course, there is the strange contraption which my landlord told me was an oven. I'm sorry, but it looks like no oven I've ever seen. And this coming from a man whose only labour in the kitchen is to boil water (which always boils over under his watch) ... well, you can't blame me for being sceptical.

Photo from

Of course, I had tested it out by roasting my
Eight Treasure Duck, with great success. But baking? The Stephanie Confidence Index was not looking good. After doing some research on this bizarre kitchen equipment, I discovered that it is called a turbo broiler, apparently de rigour in Filipino households. Most odd as my landlord is not Filipino.

I even went to
Market Manila to ask if the turbo broiler is suitable for anything other than roasting fowl. No one cried foul (sorry for the pun) but no one appeared to have ever baked anything in it either. Even Marketman of Market Manila had not baked with it. However, a girlfriend told me that since it works on a convection principle, logically one should be able to bake with one.

I'm always one for logic. Fie on those of you spitting in disbelief. Anyway, I decided to go where no turbo broiler has apparently gone. I was going to bake. Specifically, a chocolate tart. I am not daft! I was not going to bake a soufflé on my inaugural foray into turbo broiler baking! I wanted to do something easy. And I had chocolate. It was time.

Admittedly, I was very nervous. The odds of total and unmitigated failure were high. Armed with a seemingly easy and fool-proof recipe for
Absolute Chocolate Tart from Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini fame, I prepared to make a mess of it.

I wanted to bake individual chocolate tarts for 3A, her husband and I. I rather like the idea of individual portions so no one will steal mine. Yes, I am possessive of my chocolate. Touch mine and prepare to die. I also have a strange quirk where I like my portions small. That’s not to say that I eat very little. Just that I like each portion in petite proportions. I could have ten of these but each portion must be small to appeal to me. Please note I am only like this with food. Money, men and bribes must be substantial. Note that down now.

Clotilde’s recipe was ideal because like me, she seems to have a thing for individual portions and the recipe made for 3 tartlets. As it was, I still halved her portions as I suspected that my little tart moulds were even smaller than hers. I was right in the end.

I love the fact that her pie crust was also chocolate flavoured. It seemed incredibly easy to make and even better, you do not have to roll it out! I could save myself from scrubbing the counter after a bout of dough kneading and rolling! I was sold.

Absolute Chocolate Tart
Chocolate pie crust
- 60g sugar
- 60g butter, cubed
- 120g flour minus a massive tbsp which I replaced with cocoa
- 2 tbsp milk

1. Sieve the sugar and floor into a bowl

2. Add the butter and mix the lot well in the processor

3. Add the milk and continue mixing

4. At this point, I felt the dough up. Unlike Clotilde’s description that the dough would be like coarse sand, mine was a moist lump. I was terribly disturbed at visions of a soft cake unable to hold the chocolate ganache filling. I started sprinkling a mixture of flour and cocoa and kneading by hand. I continued to add the cocoa flour mixture till I had what I thought should be the right consistency. Even then I thought it was still a little too moist but I decided to bake one tart first to gauge if I should add more flour to the other two. Fortunately, it was just the right consistency.

5. Line the tart moulds (I have these tiny, fluted, non-stick kinds with a removable bottom) with the dough. I divided the dough into three and pressed one portion down to edge the sides and line the bottom of each tart mould. I tried to press it fairly thin as I want more chocolate filling than pastry.

6. Weigh it down at the bottom with a ceramic weight so it wouldn’t puff up like Anna Nicole Smith before the infamous “Do You Like My Body” act at the MTV Awards. I had no ceramic weights or baking beans so I just used my ceramic sushi sauce bowl. Worked a treat.

7. Bake at 200 deg C for 10 minutes. Here’s where I ended in strife. The turbo broiler is much hotter than normal ovens. The first pie crust was a half-burnt tart. The second I halted at 5 minutes, cooled slightly for about 30 seconds before resuming baking again. It was still a little over-baked but much more successful. By the third pie crust, I had lessened the cooking time to about 8 minutes with a halt at mid-point for 30 seconds. The pie crust was just perfect.

8. Clotilde melted some chocolate to glaze the baked and cooled shells before putting them in the fridge to set them. I didn’t. I just plum forgot. Next time I will do that.

9. Cool the pie crust

Chocolate Ganache
- 75g bittersweet chocolate drops (that’s all I had)
- 50 ml cream
- 1 egg yolk
- 20g butter

1. Heat the cream

2. Add the chocolate and whisk till melted

3. Add the yolk and butter and whisk briskly till smooth

4. Spoon the ganache into the cooled pie crusts. Give it a little shake.

5. Refrigerate to set. I removed mine when they were ¾ set so I could “imprint” a little footprint on the ganache. I have this little children’s stamp given to me as a gag gift that I thought might be cute on my miniature chocolate tarts. It was but I think I stamped them too early as the print was rather faint. Oh well.

Now, Clotilde is a culinary princess and she made chocolate sculptures to place on top of the chocolate tarts. Really lovely stuff. Running out of space and time, I didn’t. To be honest, I am not sure I would make the chocolate sculptures even if I had time!

Sure, I might have been happy whipping up some cream and decorating the tarts in swirls or even dusting them with a lace of icing sugar or a white and dark chocolate lattice. Besides my eccentric love of small portions, I also dislike overly fussy cake decorations. I like simple and clean lines. No swans or overly buttercreamed Gardens of Babylon decorations for me. I want to eat it, not wear it. And even then I am no Bjork. So it was a little stamped footprint for me.

By the time I had finished baking, I was down to only two tarts. The first being a disaster due to the burnt crust. Strangely I had quite a bit of pie dough left which I put away for another experiment. I could not bring only two tarts to 3A’s apartment! Sighing at good intentions gone awry, I put the two tarts into the fridge and rushed off to see 3A with only two Mandarin oranges as a Chinese New Year token.

After an afternoon out by the pool and a lovely dinner with 3A and 3A Hubby, I came home to check on the chocolate tarts. I removed one from the mould, poured myself a cold glass of milk and ate one for dessert. It was glorious. The pie crust was slightly crumbly and the chocolate ganache was incredibly rich. In fact, so rich I had problems finishing it! Next time I might even try to make them smaller if I can find moulds that small. Le petit mort!

I think I may try to make the pie crust at the exact proportions that Clotilde listed as she stated that it was slightly crumbly but chewy inside. Mine was slightly crumbly but not chewy at all. And I would definitely remember the chocolate glaze next time.

On the whole, this Absolute Chocolate Tart scores a 8.5/10 for taste. I would have given it more but to be honest I thought it was a little too rich in that portion. In a smaller portion size I think it would have scored higher with me. I’m all about quality instead of quantity with this tart I think.

I’m not even going to give this a health rating because I know it’s going to be bad. I’ll just go back to drooling over the last remaining tart. Which I am saving for tomorrow.

Categories - Sweet Thang


Blogger Marketmanila said...

Congratulations...tarte au chocolat in a turbo...truly amazing... Good on you and such an amusing write-up as well! If you get a chance and have a standard oven, I posted a recipe on a simple chocolate tart (though bigger than individual servings) that you may enjoy! Cheers.


11:04 am  
Blogger MM said...

Hey Marketman! Thanks so much for visiting and your comment! Honestly, I love your blog and visit it regularly. Psst, I did give your recipe a look and in fact I made a batch of your pastry to freeze till I had more bittersweet chocolate. But I think I am have messed it up as the dough is very dry and crumbly. Is that normal?

Not tried to make an Filipino food as I am waiting for my part-time helper to teach me. I love the recipes though.

4:24 pm  

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