French chocolate tart

Hello chocolate, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.

Way back in our university days, my friends and I played a game where one word in a song title would be replaced with a word that is unmentionable here, thus creating a hilarious new title. This was way before smartphones so obviously we had to make our own fun. It was either the song title game or 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon which I was very, very good at. And it turns out that you can also replace certain lyrics with the word ‘chocolate’ and they still make perfect sense!

Anyway, I digress.  I can’t actually find any real info on why this is called a French chocolate tart, other than that it originated in France. And like many classic French recipes, this one is a few basic ingredients resulting in something splendid – just a basic pâte sucrée filled with a rich and creamy chocolate ganache/custard hybrid. Recipe credit here goes to Simon Wright of, until recently, the incomparable French Cafe.

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For the pastry

Ingredients

175g butter, softened
120g icing sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
300g flour, sifted

*you’ll also need a 22cm tart tin with a removable base and some baking beans.

Method

Place the butter and icing sugar in a food processor and whiz until they are creamed. Scrape down the sides.
Add the egg and lemon juice and whiz again until they are incorporated. Scrape down the sides again.
Add the flour and pulse until the flour is only just incorporated and the mixture starts to clump together.
Tip the pastry onto a floured benchtop and gently knead until it forms a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Remove the dough from the fridge, and on a benchtop lightly dusted with flour, gently roll out the dough. Be gentle with it, and give it a quarter turn every couple of rolls.
Once it is about 3mm in thickness, gently drape it over the tart tin and ease it into the base and edges.
Trim some of the excess pastry from the edges but leave about 5cm to help prevent shrinkage.
Line the prepared tart case with baking paper, followed by the baking beans, then refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Remove from the fridge, place on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges of the tart have started to colour.
Remove from the oven and remove the baking paper and beans. Trim the excess pastry and return it to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven to 110°C and prepare the filling.

For the filling

Ingredients

300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Whittakers 72%)
340ml cream
110ml milk
50g sugar
1 egg

*cocoa for dusting

Method

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, milk and sugar to the boil.
Pour it over the chocolate and leave it to sit for one minute, then whisk continuously until the mixture becomes dark and glossy.
Add the egg and whisk until fully incorporated.
Set a sieve over another bowl and pour the mixture through. This will catch any lumps or rogue bits of egg whites.
Pour this mixture into your prepared tart shell and bake for about 40 minutes. The tart should be set around the outside but slightly wobbly in the centre.
Remove from the oven and cool for 2 hours before dusting with cocoa and serving. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes 

  • The pastry case can easily be prepared in advance. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • If you prepare the whole tart in advance, make sure you bring it to room temperature before serving.

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