Tag Archives: tart

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

19 Dec

Sometimes the best gifts arrive before Christmas.  My husband’s auntie and uncle, they of the cider press, are in the habit of buying large quantities of hazelnuts.  They are also in the habit of sharing their haul of hazelnuts, which is one of the many qualities they possess that I greatly enjoy.

You may notice that when I get my hands on a certain ingredient, recipes that involving that ingredient tend to take over the site for a while.  When the strawberries start producing, the tomatoes ripen, and markets everywhere start offering fresh pears, I tend to focus pretty hard.  Garden fresh vegetables and fruit are only available for a short period of time, so why not settle down with them for a bit?  Predictably, things were no different with me this time around, so as soon as I opened the big tin of nuts and saw what was inside, my mind immediately began to buzz with possibilities.

I’ve never been great at meal planning, and I think the creation of this tart points towards one of the main reasons I struggle so much to look an entire week or more ahead when it comes to thinking about what I am going to cook.  I like inspiration, and when every time I have sat down to plan a week’s worth of meals, my plans undoubtedly become derailed by the spotting of something at the market that just called to be brought home.  Maybe delicata squash wasn’t on my grocery list, but when I see the first fall squash of the season, chances are I am going to go all swoony and buy it.  While I wasn’t anticipating having a large amount of hazelnuts sitting around my house, I sure was glad to see them when they arrived.

And while I subsequently may not have known at the time that I really, really wanted to make a baked chocolate tart topped with flakes of sea salt and savory hazelnuts, I sure was pleased to see it come together a few days later while I literally made things up as I went along, led by the promise of something incredible.

Some of you may recall that I have very recently made another chocolate hazelnut tart.  That tart, with its creamy, pudding-like filling made from hazelnut milk, is an entirely different animal.  The heft in that tart comes from its graham flour crust, while the filling is soft, light, and faintly scented of hazelnuts.  This tart almost functions as the reverse of that tart, with the buttery shortbread crust serving as the crisp counterpart to the dark, deep, bittersweet chocolate filling topped with flavorful toasted hazelnuts and the unexpected bite of sea salt.  While I might be tempted to call the previous chocolate hazelnut tart subtle, I would never even think of accusing this tart of being as such.  It’s CHOCOLATE and HAZELNUTS rendered BOLD, in ALL CAPS, and it demands your attention, straightaway.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

I like a lightly salted bite, so I sprinkle only a modest amount of sea salt on this tart.  If you are in search of a more pronounced salty flavor, by all means, add a bit more.  I have included options for  both less salty and more salty preferences in the recipe.

1 partially baked sweet tart shell (this is a great sweet tart crust that I love to pair with this type of tart)

1 cup whole hazelnuts

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder

pinch salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons heavy cream

3 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1/8-¼ teaspoon flakey sea salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and toast for 10 to 15 minutes, until you see the skins begin to curl up slightly and come loose.  Place the nuts in a clean dish towel, fold the towel over the nuts, and vigorously rub the towel around, sloughing loose the hazelnut skins.  Continue to rub the hazelnuts in the towel until most of the skins have come free.  It is perfectly fine if some skins remain intact.  Very coarsely chop hazelnuts, mostly to cut them in half, then set aside.

In a double boiler, or in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the chopped chocolate, butter, cocoa powder, and pinch of salt.  Slowly stir until the ingredients have melted together, then stir until well mixed.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and heavy cream.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and ribbony, about 3-5 minutes.  Very slowly pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, beating as you pour.  Beat for 1 minute to combine completely.

Pour chocolate mixture into the parbaked tart shell.  Place tart on a baking sheet, and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, until the chocolate filling has just begun to set.  Remove the tart from the oven while still on the baking sheet, scatter the hazelnuts over the top of the partially baked tart, press them very gently into the filling, then return to the oven to bake an additional 15 minutes, until the edges of the tart appear a bit dry and have started to crack.

Remove tart from oven.  Sprinkle your desired amount of sea salt evenly over the top of the tart.  Cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes.  The tart will appear quite puffed up when you first remove it from the oven, but it will sink as it cools, allowing the hazelnuts to nestle in quite nicely.

If desired, top with unsweetened whipped cream flavored with just a hint of vanilla.

Lime Coconut Tart

26 Sep

It is no secret that my love of tarts and pies, both savory and sweet, rides front and center on this website.  Sometimes I change things up a bit and find myself leaning my affections towards galettes, but, for the most part, tarts and pies are sort of like my best food friends (incidentally, my son’s best food friend would be carbs, and my husband’s best food friend would be all the food, everywhere, all of it).  Not coincidentally, what do I make my actual best friend every year for her birthday?  That’s right.  A pie.

So it should come as no surprise that when I discovered three cans of coconut milk sitting in the back of our pantry that seemed to appear as if from nowhere, my first thought was, “I am going to put this in a tart.”  No, really.  Some people might wonder, “When did I buy these?” or “Who needs three cans of coconut milk?”  But not me.  It should also come as no surprise that my second thought after finding the secret stash of coconut milk was, “I must find the best tart dough in all the land.”

For years I have been engaged in a highly serious search for the world’s best sweet tart dough.  I have found what I think is the best galette dough, I have my favorite pie dough, and there is always, of course, my favorite pizza dough, but tart dough?  That’s something else all together.  Tart dough is difficult.  It is prone to slumping and shrinking, and if it does happen to keep its shape, it is also often hard and bland.  Most tart dough, if not soggy, is too crunchy, almost like a cookie.  A cookie is fine, of course, but tart dough it is not.  Tart dough should be sturdy, but not heavy or tough.  It should also be buttery and only slightly sweet, sort of like a shortbread, only not as crumbly and sandy.  My list of qualifications, as you can see, is long and specific, hence my dedicated search.  Or my former search, because now?  Now I have found what is the best, most fail-proof tart dough around.

The end to my searching was not, as it turns out, all that dramatic.  In what might be called the least shocking news in recent memory, the tart dough I ended up using (and finding perfect in every way imaginable) was found in that bible of all things baking, Tartine’s cookbook.  Of course it was.  I’ve eaten their tarts many, many times, and I am well aware of the utterly transcendent quality of all their pastries.  Why it took me so long to get around to making my own batch of their tart dough—look, it doesn’t matter.  I have no excuse.  And you should not either.  You should go make this tart dough right now, and then fill the tart dough with this fantastically tart, creamy filling of coconut milk, lime juice, and lime zest.  Lightly scented with the sweet taste of coconut, wonderfully brisk from the burst of fresh lime, it’s a nearly perfect tart that also happens to be, as it goes, perfectly tart.

Lime Coconut Tart

Tartine’s Sweet Tart Dough

From Tartine

Makes enough dough for 4 9-inch tart shells

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar, and salt, and mix on medium speed until smooth.  Mix in 1 egg until smooth, then mix in the second egg until smooth again.  With the mixer off, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add in the flour all at once and mix on low speed until well incorporated.

On a lightly floured work surface, turn out dough and divide into 4 equal balls.  Shape each ball into a disk about ½-inch thick.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, or overnight.  If you are only preparing to use 1 of the tart shells, place 1 disk of dough in the refrigerator, and store the remaining 3 disks of dough in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

To prepare a tart shell for baking, on a lightly floured surface, roll out a disk of tart dough about 1/8-inch thick.  Work quickly to prevent the dough from becoming warm.  Cut out a circle 2 inches larger than your tart pan.  If the dough is still cool, lift the dough into the tart pan, gently pressing it into the sides and bottom of the pan.  If the dough is sticky and no longer cool, place the dough in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up before transferring it to the pan. Trim the top of the dough evenly with the top of the pan, then place the pastry shell in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a fork or the tip of a knife, poke many small holes in the bottom of the tart shell about 2 inches apart..  Bake the tart in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes for a partially baked shell, 12 to 15 minutes for a fully baked shell.  A partially baked shell should look dry and slightly opaque, and a fully baked shell should look golden brown.

A baked pastry shell will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, and in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Lime Coconut Filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

4 large eggs

1 ¼ cups sugar

½ cup coconut milk

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest

pinch salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until well incorporated.  While still whisking, slowly add in the coconut milk, then lime juice.  Whisk in the lime zest and pinch of salt.

Pour filling into partially baked tart shell, then bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the filling is set.  The top should be just beginning to brown, and the center of the filling should jiggle ever-so-slightly when the pan is bumped.

Place tart on a rack to cool completely, then, when cool, unmold and serve.  If desired, chill tart in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, before serving.

Strawberry Cream Tart in a Gingerbread Crust

1 Apr

Last week it rained for seven days straight.  Now, in this part of the country that type of weather pattern may not be in any way unusual, but that does not erase the fact that it is also unpleasant.  Being as though I have lived here long enough to know that summer comes late to the Pacific Northwest (but also, thankfully, lingers leisurely into the autumn months), I coped with this long stretch of wet and dreary weather in the most reasonable manner possible: I pretended it was summer.

Imagine the days are long and sticky hot.  It’s too hot to turn on the oven during the day, so you wait until the sun sets before you satisfy your desire to bake something.  The heat of the day breaks at around 8PM, but there is a bright glow that lights the sky until well past 9PM.

In the morning, you head into the garden to pick some strawberries.  The berries are warm from the morning sun, and you can smell their sweet juice on your hands as you gather them.

By 10AM it is starting to get warm.  Knowing what the temperature will be like in just a few short hours, you plan ahead and start to assemble a simple cream filling for the tart shell you baked during last night’s reprieve from the heat.  Kept in the refrigerator, the cool cream, topped with fresh strawberries, will prove to be a welcome treat that cuts through the sweltering late afternoon sun.

And that’s how we made it through the week.  Though the berries didn’t come from our garden (we’ve got at least another two and a half months before we see any action in that area), and the days were not anywhere close to being even remotely warm, that didn’t stop us from enjoying this tart any less.  We pretended we were eating it in the backyard as we swayed lazily in a hammock and listened to the soft hum of the sounds of summer.

The good news is that summer will always turn up, even if you have to wait through another soggy and wet season in order to reach it.  The even better news is that you can make this tart now, no matter the season and no matter the weather, and that when it comes to enjoying the tart, there will be absolutely no faking required.

Strawberry Tart in a Gingerbread Crust

Gingerbread Crust

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground powdered ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses

2 tablespoons cold water

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and baking powder.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly and resembles cornmeal.  Drizzle the molasses and water over the dough, mixing with your fingertips until the crumbs of dough begin to cling together.

Gather the dough together and knead it into a ball.  Press it evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9″ tart pan.  Pierce crust on sides and bottom with fork.  Gently fit a large piece of aluminum foil tightly against the crust.  Fill with pie weights (you can use dried beans or large handful of pennies, but, being someone to bakes a great deal, I like to use these super handy ceramic pie weights) and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges of the crust just begin to darken.  Remove foil and weights from tart pan (it’s best to just gather up the foil by the edges and lift the whole thing out, weights and all), and continue to bake the tart crust for 10-15 minutes more, or until crust is firm and darkly browned.

Set aside tart crust until completely cooled, at least 2 hours.  (I let mine cool, uncovered, overnight.)

Strawberry Cream Filling

8 ounces vanilla yogurt (regular or nonfat)

4 ounces cream cheese

finely grated or chopped zest of 1/2 a lemon

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced

In a bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat together yogurt and cream cheese until smooth.  Add lemon zest and stir to combine.  Pour yogurt and cream cheese filling into cooled tart shell.  Refrigerate until chilled and slightly firmed (it will never reach actual firmness, so don’t aim for a sturdy filling), about 2 hours.

When filling has chilled, arrange strawberries on top in whatever manner you choose.  I layered them in overlapping circles, but I promise you that the arrangement of your strawberries will in no way compromise the taste of your dessert.


If your strawberries are off season, as these were, and not at peak sweetness, you can apply a very light glaze on top of the berries to coax out a bit more strawberry flavor.  Simply toss a couple of large strawberries into a small food processor or blender, along with two tablespoons of water, 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, and a pinch of cornstarch. Blend together until smooth, then pour into a small saucepan set over low heat.  Stir over low heat until strawberry mixture has thickened slightly and just begins to simmer.  Let mixture cool slightly, then lightly brush over arranged strawberries until just covered.

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