A chocolate tart

Pies have a top and tarts have a bottom.’

Harold Goodyer to my grandpa, but overheard by my Mum in about 1956.

I have to confess that when I was about 10 years old tarts became infinitely more interesting and even more delicious, when I, like my Mum, began to understand the other meaning of the word tart! An inadvertant lesson from my aunty May.

May, my granny’s sister, had a very orange rinse, a big and generous heart and a sharp often wicked tongue. She always worked hard but liked nothing more than putting her feet up with a nice strong cup of tea, maybe a custard tart and having a good gossip and gasp about this and that, a tut and ‘have you heard?‘ Mostly it was talk of births, illness – lots about illness – and death, but occasionally there was news of ‘them,‘ people who ‘aired their dirty laundry in public or ‘That blousey tart who lives at No 16 Turner street.‘ My granny used to blush and giggle with encouragement at such conversations before remembering herself and whispering disapprovingly ‘Our May really! Not in front of the children.

I would concentrate on biting the crimped edges off my individual custard tart, stare at my tea or busy myself with something or other and pretend my ears weren’t flapping madly. Which of course they were, ‘dirty washing, Blousey tart, blousey tart’ I turned the words over in my head, negotiating them, putting two and two together, a delicate, frilly edged custard tart and the tart at No 16. I may not have understood the full implications of it all, but I got the drift. I even fancied that I knew who they were talking about. My ears burned, my mind raced.

I also knew it was all terrible gossip, that custard tarts would never be the same again and that – rather naively – I’d rather be called a tart than a pie. Maybe it wasn’t so naive after all, I’d still rather be called a tart than a pie, or a crumble for that matter, who wants to be called a crumble?

So tarts,

I am extremely fond of them; a slice of my Granny’s quivering egg custard tart dusted with nutmeg; a wedge of treacle tart, which is not treacle at all but Lyles golden syrup spiked with lemon and thickened with breadcrumbs; a piece of the apricot tart my mum used to make for ‘Dinner parties’!, the one with apricot halves nestled in a pale custard; an individual Bakewell tart, Bakewell pudding really, from the bakery in Bakewell; a thin, rumpled, glazed slice of fanned apple tart; a bright yellow triangle of lemon tart; an individual jam tart made from the scraps of pastry; quince Crostata from the bakery in Trastevere; a simple, elegant, dark chocolate tart.

For all my talk and gossip of tarts, I have only started making them recently, since the beginning of January actually, when I finally overcame my phobia of making (not eating I should hasten to add) sweet pastry. Since then, being mildly obsessive and convinced making double quantities of pastry is easier, I have been making a tart a week. Lemon ones to start, then two ricotta ones which were good but need practice and then for the last three weeks, three chocolate tarts.

The first chocolate tart I made was Simon Hopkinson’ recipe from ‘Roast chicken and other stories’ the book I might choose to ‘cook my way through from start to finish in the julie and julia sense‘ if I was so inclined, which I’m not. It is a lovely recipe, a sweet – but not overly so – pastry case filled with a wonderfully rich and intense dark chocolate, butter, egg and sugar filling. I liked it very much, we all did, but I’d imagined something a bit more velvety, a filling rather like another Simon Hopkinson recipe, quite possibly the richest and most delicious little pot of chocolate cream you will ever eat, his dark elixir of heavy cream, dark chocolate, sugar and eggs, his Petit pot au chocolat.

I kept looking at the two recipes which are just a page apart, back and forth, back and forth, thinking if only and what a shame. This continued for about a week – rather like our now deceased cat Oswald when he sat staring blankly at the cat flap waiting for someone to open the door- until it finally dawned on me that I could try using recipe for the petit pot au chocolat as a filling for the pastry case of his chocolate tart.

It works beautifully.

You make your pastry case and bake it blind until it is pale biscuit-coloured and cooked through – Simon Hopkinson doesn’t suggest using any baking weights or greaseproof paper topped with butter beans so I didn’t and it worked perfectly, three times!. Next you make your filling, the petit pot recipe; you warm the milk and cream (or mascarpone if – like me – you can’t find good heavy cream) gently and then add the chopped chocolate and sugar and stir until you have a thick, glorious shiny, dark, gloop not unlike the chocolate river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the one Augustus Gloop falls into. You let the mixture cool a little before stirring in a beaten egg

You pour the dark cream into the tart case and bake it for about 15 – 20 mins minutes until the filling has set but with a slight wobble at the center. Then you let the tart sit for at least a couple of hours when it will settle and firms up into a delicious velvety fudge.

A dark, rich, delicious tart which invites gossip.

If you do keep the tart in the fridge bring it out an hour or so before you want to eat it.

Notes;, Do roll the pastry thinly, which I know can be a fuss if your pastry decides to misbehave, it makes all the difference when you have a thin, delicate, golden crust. The tart will puff up in the oven, do not be alarmed, it is ok and the tart with sink back down when it cools. Very last thing, I think (finally) having a good, basic, loose bottomed tart tin is great.

Chocolate tart

Adapted from Simon Hopkinson’s recipes for Chocolate tart and petit pot au chocolat inRoast chicken and other stories

8 generous slices or 12 modest ones,

For the pastry

  • 130g butter (at room temperature)
  • 65g icing sugar
  • 1 medium-sized egg
  • 225g plain flour

For the filling

  • 250g mascarpone cheese or heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 200g dark, high quality, cocoa butter rich bitter chocolate. chopped.
  • 40g caster sugar
  • I medium-sized egg

To make the pastry; put the butter, icing sugar and egg in a bowl (or food processor) and work together quickly. Blend in the flour and work together into a homogenous paste. Wrap the dough in cling film or a tea towel and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°/350F

Roll out the pastry on a well floured board as thinly as you can and then carefully lift and tuck it into an 8″ tart tin (ideally with a loose base), the pastry will be delicate, don’t panic if you need to press and patch it a bit. Bake the tart case blind for about 20 minutes, until it is cooked through and a pale golden biscuit colour.

To make the filling;  In a small pan, warm the mascarpone/cream and the milk gently over a gentle flame and then add the chopped chocolate and sugar and stir until the chocolate has melted and the sugar dissolved and you have a dark thick, silky mixture.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little before adding and carefully incorporating the beaten egg. Pour the mixture into the tart case.

Carefully slide the filled tart back into the oven for 15 minutes or until the tart has set but still had slight wobble in the center.

Allow the tart to sit for a couple of hours before serving.


Filed under Chocolate, pies and tarts, Puddings, recipes

45 responses to “A chocolate tart

  1. wow! i get to be the first comment – love that. i can almost taste this just by looking at the pictures. i was imagining it would not be as firm as you described, but the pictures do a great job of showing its texture. this is right up my alley and, even though i’m horrible at making deserts, i think i can handle this one.

    • rachel

      If I can do it, you can for sure.
      A slice of this after one of your cooking adventures ( thinking the duck ragu) and then
      post prandial nap for the rest of the day

  2. Julie

    Ohhhh I am bowled over by this lovely tart! I’m also a fan of tarts, blousey or otherwise . . .

    This entry confirms the wisdom of subscribing to your blog on my RSS feed! 🙂

    • rachel

      hello Julie
      So glad you get the blousey bit I was a bit worried people might misunderstand.
      It is s lovely tart and bar the always tricky (well for me at least) rolling out of pastry
      it is lovely and simple to make and utterly delcious to eat.

  3. When I was a little girl I used to love listening to adult conversation and imagining I understood the complexities of what was being said. When my parents had parties, my sister and I especially liked sneaking out of our beds and hiding around the corner from the living room, dressed in our nightgowns, ears perked, giggling quietly.

  4. thank god you got over that damn fear of pastry making, is all i can say.

    • rachel

      ha Elena
      Yes thank god, or maybe not. we have had rather too many
      tarts of late. I need to find a very healthy vegetable based fear to overcome !

  5. Oh my god yum!!! Thanks for the recipie, I have people coming over for dinner friday and will make this for SURE.

  6. Samantha

    I have an incredible fear of sweet pastry…but everything you post here that I’ve made comes out so well that I may have to swallow my fear and try!

    • rachel

      I really understand….my fear was deep rooted.
      My lovely friend who showed me the pastry way told me to practice pastry
      when there was no pressure (ie not when i have guests arriving in two hours – obvious I know, but my style)
      and get a good tart tin. This recipe is a good way to start and you have my full moral suport.

  7. Questo è il genere di torte che piace a me! la proverò sicuramente…

  8. this post is especially delightful–I can hear Aunty May holding forth over a cuppa tea and Granny trying–but not too hard– to tamp it down, and envision you, nibbling ’round the edges…
    As kids, we’ve all been there at some point–trying to figure the (not-so-subtle)nuances of adult world. funny.

    Chocolate tart is a Winner, and I really like that you did the blind-bake without weights. Sometimes I get a real attitude about having to use those things.

    • rachel

      I think I had rather too much of a not-so-subtle education from my Aunty may !!
      As for the baking blind, yes, I am bean free, not sure if this is a fluke and I am certainly no pastry expert but it seems to be working…..I could get complaints on this one !

  9. Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine this life…? The tart. This post. You are gifted, Rach.

  10. curlywurlyfi

    I love that Simon Hopkinson choc tart + I have given up all other sweet pastry recipes in favour of this one. However! another tip! I don’t even try rolling out the pastry any more; it’s just too fragile. Instead I pat it into the tin by hand (tear off lumps, squash them flat for the base; make snakes + push them into the ribs for the sides). Then rest it in the fridge before jagging with a fork + baking (with no beans as you say).

    • rachel

      Thankyou for that advice about the tart, brilliant especially the chilling in the fridge in the tart tin – I will try that.
      …..I did manage to roll it out the pastry – relatively well – but did you notice I don’t use two egg yolks but one whole egg, I think the egg white makes the pastry a bit more flexible.

  11. I didnt know of Simon H till I read your post. you write really beautifully, R. i laughed a lot when i read about ‘tart’ there are so many words which others dont understand, pants for eg is another one, whenever someone says, nice pant-suit shayma, i go red and then realise, it’s an American phrase, they mean nice trouser suit! beautiful photos, what wonderful photos you take in your kitchen. xo shayma

    • rachel

      you must get Simon H’s book Roast chicken and other stories it is wonderful and
      I think you will really really like it.
      You are too nice and very reassuring about my odd photos !

  12. That chocolate tart is just gorgeous. I really appreciate that you made quite a few tarts before talking about them. Something I never do. That is, get good at things. Or wait to talk about them. And I love your writing as much as tarts. And that’s a lot!

    • rachel

      Thanks Julia
      I think my writing procratination has alot to do with my waiting! I am terrible, rather than write, I make another tart.

  13. TD

    Hi Rachel!
    I loved your calling the tart “blousey”…it may be the best description I have ever heard for tart. I have never considered making tart at home, and your photographs are tempting me to try. This is not a good thing…working with chocolate and milk on stove top is really beyond my abilities. Perhaps someday I will find the courage. Ahh now I wish someone else would make this for me while I sit and talk and eat that delicious tart.

    • rachel

      Hi tania
      I thought pastry and tarts were way beyond me. but I took my friends advice and experimented a bit
      with no pressure and I got over my ‘beyond me‘ fears….wish I could send you a slice now.

  14. I’m still working on my pastry fear. I did successfully make a tarte tatin, which certainly helped bolster my confidence, but still…..scary!

    I want to dive into this. love that the filling has mascarpone.

    • rachel

      Sarah – I still haven’t made the tart tatin I have been promising myself for about 15 years, it is one of my food ‘mount everests’ so I am impressed…this should be a breeze in comparison.
      A tasty one too.

  15. lo

    I’m just about drooling from the photos of that “blousy” tart… the gorgeous textures and phenomenal color of the photos. Makes me think I need to get back to work on my pastry skills.

  16. I’ll never forget when I found a similar recipe and made one of these and my life changed. I had had them in Paris and figured there was some terribly tricky secret to them! Thanks for posting another version for me to try – I’ve never made one with marscapone before….

  17. Loving that delicious looking tart and your orange-rinsed Aunty May. That’s going to make me smile all day!

  18. jenifer

    Lovely writing Rachel. With lots of love from your mumx
    How about a chocolate tart this weekend?

  19. Ariella

    Hi Rachel!
    I’m studying abroad in Florence and miss baking like I do at home in the States so much. I haven’t been able to find brown sugar anywhere for baked goods and was wondering if you ever use anything else in its place? I know Florentines call cane sugar brown sugar, so it’s hard to find. Any ideas?

    Thank you!

    • rachel

      Hi Ariella
      Yes, it can be tricky finding baking ingredients, I go back to England very regularly so I bring things back.
      I have found the best place to find different kinds of sugar in Rome is health food shops, they often have lots of
      grades and types of cane, dark, fine, and superfine sugar.
      How wonderful to be in Florence !
      Hope you find what you are looking for

      • Ariella

        I’ll be in Rome in a couple weeks so maybe I’ll try to stock up! Are there any places you would suggest so that I can write it down? And also…I haven’t seen any measuring spoons/cups…would I be able to find those there too?

        Thanks again!

  20. I love that tart/cake plate. Have I said this already?

  21. This warmed my heart. The Story was as delicious as the idea of the velvety dark chocolate tart. I noticed in the last photo that the cross section of the tart looks absolutely perfect. What a treat. Just lovely.

  22. Pingback: Chocolate Tart ‹ Foodexpressed's Blog

  23. Abigail

    I have to say you have inspired me to keep on trying to make an edible and should I say enjoyable to prepare tart pastry crust. I was looking for a recipe online and google popped up your blog, I’ll probably be reading more of your posts and oogling over your pictures too wondering why my dishes can’t have that magnetic effect.

    As for that ricotta tart, last week I made this for my dad and just today he said it was “haunting” him, it doesn’t have the intense chocolate aroma about it but the spin off on the crust is nice. The ingredients would probably be easy for you to find as well, using marscapone if you can’t find cream cheese and I also used a darker chocolate.

    Relish in your victory over pastry crust! 🙂

  24. Henrice

    Opted for a different pastry case but used your filling. I made it as a dessert but think it works much better as in your picture as a kind of Kaffee und Kuchen it is too rich at the end of a meal but nevertheless very yummy

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