chocolate espresso tarts

this post might have been entitled ‘whatever gets you through the day’…but i thought that a bit obfuscated and nothing about this chocolate tart should be unclear. one day, not unrecently, i happened upon a chocolate tart. i am generally of the belief that chocolate is chocolate and therefore not to be used in any way other than consumed in its purest form. but this tart seemed to defy that truth, as well as fly in the face of so many others (ie. dont eat chocolate before noon and dont buy more than one tart from one place more than once of a day). it had a layer of something resembling ground almond on its base. what it was exactly remained unclear to me. it had some kind of chocolate ganache on top. and it was dusted with a cocoa powder which didnt make me sneeze. (is this how we measure pastry? by its affect on the sinuses?) it looked like this:

it became a mission of sorts. i wanted to recreate it. how hard could it be? turns out, that all depends on the level of perfectionism involved and your own competence. for the ground almond – i guessed it be something like sugar, ground almond and butter, equal parts. and the top was a ganache. it took all the powers of my brain and my ever diminishing taste buds to work it out. 6 tarts later i realised i was as close as i was going to get to an understanding of its properties as well as to a serious heart condition.


150g dark chocolate (broken up in bits. obviously the best method is whacking the block against a hard surface. this method gets rid of any unwanted aggression and tension early on which might otherwise spill over into your cooking at a later, more critical stage – ie. when you put them into an oven which has not had its racks organised properly at the outset and you drop your bundle, of which you only ever have a tenuous grasp anyway, as well as the oven tray full of tarts which were made with bile and not love because you didnt take the preemtive step of banging the life out of your chocolate initially)

100g butter diced

1 egg

1 egg yolk

30g caster sugar

2 tsp instant espresso

12 prebaked tart cases

cocoa powder for dusting

…for ground almond filling

100g butter

100g sugar

100g ground alomnds

preheat oven to 170 degrees. break up your chocolate and put into a heat proof bowl with the butter and set aside for a moment. in a separate bowl combine butter, sugar and ground almonds and blend to combine. then set this aside. if you are lacking in common sense, an understanding of your own digestive capacity, and ultimately self-restraint, i suggest you try this before setting it aside. its really something.

melt butter and chocolate over a pot of boiling water. some say you can melt butter and chocolate in a microwave as long as its on defrost and you stop it every couple of minutes to stir gently. rose gray said that you must never touch chocolate as it melts because it goes grainy. nigella endorses the microwave but then shes lost the plot. if you asked tamsin day lewis she’d probably be horrified by the thought…but shes another nutjob who’s always been a little off her tree. i guess the best answer is, if you believe in the sacralisation of chocolate, do it over a pot of water, never stirring, remaining very still, in silent prayer. if you have a tendency toward the profane then put it in the microwave…ive never had any problems (specifically relating to chocolate and a microwave). once melted stir in the espresso until its dissolved.

whisk your egg and sugar until pale and fluffy and doubled in volume. at this point id put in a few drops of vanilla – extract or paste.

pour melted chocolate into the egg and sugar mixture to make a pollock-esque canvas for your photographer.

to assemble…first spread layer of the ground almond mixture into the base of prebaked tart cases. then pour over chocolate mixture. fill them to the top.

put them into the oven for 5 minutes.

let them cool completely and then dust with cocoa powder. (i would suggest that cadbury bournville cocoa powder is entirely unacceptable. it tastes like shit. and so going to find good dutch cocoa is not a task reserved strictly for crazed food fetishists. its for people who eat food. because all of them will know, if they dont already, that to dust cadbury’s cocoa onto an exquisite creation such as this would be a travesty. my irreverence and the my proximity to an under-stocked urban supermarket meant i learnt this hard way.)


14 Responses to “chocolate espresso tarts”

  1. 1 JJ April 24, 2010 at 2:13 am

    it’s agreed that the olfactory bulb projects some of the truest light on the greater things. i explained this to your nyc correspondent the other day. we take our aromas and odors seriously over here. we also like our numbers. that’s why we got these:

  2. 3 JJ April 24, 2010 at 2:22 am

    when i saw the nigella tag, i thought there would be some nigella seeds involved (not nigella lawson — i don’t even know who she is but i think that’s who you’re refering to). and then i realized i do know nigella lawson. a few months ago, i was perfecting a squash soup for a jetsetting pianist and to try my hand at breadmaking. i found a recipe for nigellan flatbread in my roommate’s copy of how to be a domestic goddess. my first attempt did not live up to my standards and i have yet to try again. now i would like to find some use for the remaining nigella seeds i bought from the indian market. help.

    • 4 schlepseleh April 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      if you dont know who nigella lawason is, thats something you should look into. shes was everything good about food and writing…and has since degenerated into madness. i would personally pinpoint her point of departure from reality at the moment she started making things like rocky road, started speaking to her food, started using garlic infused oil, and pre-packaged lemon juice, and probably more accurately when her face started to be obscured by her ever expanding bosom. if you can wait a few days and are not adverse to the use of potatoes, there will be a recipe with nigella seeds…courtesy of nigella lawson…before she went off the deep end.

  3. 5 JJ April 24, 2010 at 2:27 am

    to get on point, i would love a chocolate expresso tart. there was no time for breakfast this morning. now i am at work, about to leave for a second job downtown to paint a neurotic woman’s loft. this would be an ideal treat.

  4. 6 matthieu April 24, 2010 at 10:24 am

    do you always paint neurotic women aloft?

  5. 7 FW April 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    point one. for the puntuationally bereft food/psychology blogger, Schlepseleh (unless I’ve got all this completely wrong):
    Have vocab and grammar also berefted you? Obscurated? WTF? The meaning here is obscure. Possibly obscurantist. Leaving that aside,
    point two.This lot does look and sound scrumptious. (Is that word permissible?) If heavy. The photo-spread worthy of National Geographic.
    Marcel asks can he expect to see madeleines adumbrated any time soon.
    point three. Is your correspondent JJ a house-painter?

    • 8 schlepseleh April 24, 2010 at 5:58 pm

      berefted huh. WTF? can i suggest perhaps that a man of your age bracket (old-very old) should not toil so liberally, and publicly, in the field of linguistic modernity? it might be seen by some to be highly embarrassing and bring shame to those around you and unwillingly associated with you. scrumptious is permissible but only just. and your adumbrative comments are welcome but their smarter than thou tone and irregularity (i realise two fingered typing with chubby digits can render an ordinarily simple task significantly more difficult and lengthy) make your contribution seem, rather than constructive creative input, merely like anodyne gesture.

  6. 9 Germima April 24, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    wow FW, one needs to get their pears cyclopedia off the book shelf to extrapolate any meaning from your OBFUSCATED missives. Still, a jolly read though.

    • 10 FW April 24, 2010 at 9:24 pm

      dangerous having a pears cyclopedia on same shelf as cookbooks lest the fruit become confused with the soap. (see the consequences of confusing soap with cheese in City Lights.((cf mistaking salt for ‘nose powder’ in the master’s next film, Modern Times)) )*
      * an example of punctuation getting the better of one.

      • 11 Matthieu April 25, 2010 at 12:07 am

        too true, and never get a kid to throw stones through windows, they always get caught and sent to borstal.

  7. 12 jo April 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    banter aside, i can’t even imagine how good these taste.
    and direct from your noggin, no recipe!
    truly beautiful, my moon.

  8. 13 Friar Tuck April 25, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    This chocolate tart looks very dense . Could one chocaholic get through one such tart on her lonesome , even if accompanied by a good coffee from a great coffee joint like Seven Seeds? I’ve been following your almond / chocolate obsession with interest . Now that winter is imminent could you share your thoughts on the theme good soup recipes for chilly nights?

  9. 14 Hollyv May 18, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Shazzam! These were brilliant. I added a little shredded coconut to the almond paste. Thanks for tip-off about bourneville cocoa. As a result, I kind of cheated and used that chocolate mystery powder that you’re supposed to put on a capuccino.
    Fun to make and they came out looking like the pictures. I think I’m going to develop a little heart problem of my own…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: