Chocolate Tarts

Friday, 25 June 2010

If you've been making shortcrust pastry with cold butter, you need to read this post.

Or if you've been struggling with pastry that keeps melting and tearing as you roll it, you also need to read this post.

Would you like to make the dough and line a tart mould in 10 minutes, without having to rest or chill the dough? Find out how here.

Would you like homemade pastry that's so tender it crumbles and melts in your mouth? Rich and buttery without being oily? Yes? Then this post is for you.

The key to the mother of all shortcrust pastries is: an almost waterless dough. That doesn't just mean not adding water to the flour, because most pastry dough ingredients other than sugar and flour contain a substantial amount of water. Butter, for instance, is about 15% water. To remove the H2O, the butter is boiled so that the moisture evaporates. Gluten can't form without water and once there's no gluten, the pastry is melt-in-the-mouth tender even without egg yolks. And it can't shrink without gluten, so there's no need to rest it.

If you're now shrinking back in horror at the thought of melted, boiled butter, I totally understand your feeling. It's unlike other pastry recipes which always call for cold butter. And you might be thinking, "How the hell am I gonna roll it out?" Well, you don't. You put the dough in the tart mould and pat it into a thin layer. If you're pretty nifty, it takes maybe two minutes to line a small mould. If you take longer though, that's OK too since the butter is already melted. I tell ya, whoever came up with this method was an absolute genius! If, like me, you hate rolling out dough that keeps tearing, this no-roll recipe is a god sent!

Are you skeptical? You should be. Even if the dough is easy to work with, how good could it be? Doesn't good pastry need egg yolks and big flakes of cold butter? Well, try the recipe and see for yourself. The proof of the pudding is in the eating! I ate an entire pastry shell neat the first time I tried the recipe! Once in a blue moon, something that sounds too good to be true is true.

Now, please excuse me whilst I go stuff my face with more chocolate tarts.

(Recipe for 4 tarts 11 cm wide)
Tart shells (source: David Leibovitz)
90 g unsalted butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
⅛ tsp salt
150 g plain flour
Chocolate ganache

200 g dairy cream, 35% milkfat
200 g dark chocolate, chop roughly

Preheat oven to 210°C (410°F).

To make pastry, put all ingredients except flour in a pot. Over medium heat, stir till colour darkens around edges, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Tip flour into pot. Stir till evenly mixed.

When cool enough to handle, divide dough between four 11 x 2 cm tart moulds – about 60 g each – reserving one pea-sized piece. Pat and press dough into thin, even layer.

Bake till golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Patch up cracks if any once tarts come out of oven, by flattening reserved dough between fingers, then pressing gently over cracks for a few seconds.

To make chocolate ganache, heat and stir cream till just boiling. Add cream to chocolate (not chocolate to cream). Stir till smooth. Pour into tart shells. Smooth top with a spatula. Transfer to fridge for ganache to set, at least 30 minutes.

To serve, let tarts come to room temperature. Unmould and tuck in.


Blur Ting said...

This is the kind of recipe that I like. I was so looking forward to making an apple tart last week to bring to a party, but the process (including chilling dough in fridge for 1.5hrs) was too long. I would have missed the party if I had stayed home to bake that darn thing. I made a salad instead. Next time I will try this!

Anonymous said...

Hey kt, i've been following your blog for several months now, and the recipes are simply awesome! I would just like to ask... if i patch up the tarts with the dough, wouldn't it taste doughy?!

KT said...

Hi BT, thanks for your vote of confidence!

Hi Anon, thanks for the compliment! The tarts shouldn't taste doughy if the patches are small – say, up to pea size. Especially with a strong tasting filling like chocolate ganache. Make patches as thin as possible with fingers, then press them gently over the hole(s) for a few seconds once the tarts come out of the oven. It would be very hot but tolerable. The heat would cook the dough.

If you can see the bottom of the mould clearly through the raw dough, that means the dough is too thin and the chances of it cracking are high. When it's totally opaque, it should be quite safe. Half way inbetween – can see through but not too much! – would be ideal!

There are step-by-step photos on David Lebovitz's website by the way, together with lots of comments and feedback. Link is in the recipe section above.

Anonymous said...

this recipe is a keeper! The tarts are really yummy n easy to make esp since its the first time i'm making tarts. Thank you so much, KT :)

KT said...

You're most welcome, Belle.

After reading your comment, I feel like making chocolate tarts this weekend. :-)

Anonymous said...

i'm eager to try out cream cheese or pastry cream filling with fresh fruit/canned peach topping :) Belle

Anonymous said...

are these egg tarts? almost the same as the tarts sold by fancy delights?

KT said...

The fillings are different, and so are the tart shells. They are almost the same only if you think all tarts are almost the same.

teoaili said...

Hi KT, its me Ai Li again! Thot of making this for Xmas (don't you think its a good idea?) Have some questions here. What size tart mould did you use and do you have pictures? Fyi, I have never owned a tart mould in my life. Can I use casserole dish? What kind of thickened cream did you use? Will Nestle cream be suitable, if not what is it and where to buy? Thanks for being helpful, as always!

KT said...

Hi hi

You're right, these tarts are ideal for Christmas. Dead easy, you can make them ahead, looks good, and everyone loves chocolate.

You can't use a casserole dish because the tart shell crumbles very easily, and you wouldn't be able to get it out of the dish. It needs a mould with a removable bottom. Even then, unmoulding is the most difficult part whereas making it is quite easy. The tart must rest flat at all times or it would just fall apart. A triangular spatula is necessary unless you're serving one tart per person.

I used 4-inch round moulds but you can make a 9- or 8-inch if you like. If you're buying new, I'd suggest black moulds rather than silver coloured because you can gauge how thick the dough is by the amount of black that shows through.

The cream for the ganache should have about 35% fat, like Bulla Fresh Thickened Cream. Fresh is much better than UHT (tetra-packed).

My comment here (15 September, 9.31 pm) might be useful, and David has step-by-step photos here.

Please note that if you go for a 9-inch, you'll need a bit more ganache.

Good luck!

teoaili said...

Thank you KT! Really appreciate you showing me pictures, sending me links........ But after reading......I have reservations baking it....:< Not sure if I will succeed. Anyway, if I have the courage 1 day, I would like to try because my whole family loves chocolate and I have never baked a tart in my life before. 1 last question : I was told that dark colored non-stick pans always burn at the bottom so I have to reduce the temperature by 25C. Is this correct?

KT said...

The black moulds I use brown evenly without burnt bottoms. They may brown faster (overall) than silver ones but I haven't done a comparison. They're done when they look and smell done.

If you have tarts (or whatever) that brown too much at the bottom, the bottom heat may be reduced, turned off, or blocked with a tray or two. Alternatively, move whatever you're baking to a higher shelf. For thin, crisp cookies, flip them over when they're 70-80% done.

teoaili said...

Thank you, KT! You are always so helpful and I am encouraged. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hi KT, do you know where to buy Valrhona chocolate in Sgp that is not overpriced?
i wanted to bake this tart recipe so i wanted to use a good quality chocolate.
What choc do you use for making this and where to buy ? thks alot for your help

KT said...

Hello MayMay

The cheapest Valrhona I've come across is the 1 kg block at Sun Lik (Seah Street) for about $40. $4 per 100 g is cheap for a good chocolate. Or you could go for the buttons (no chopping!) which are $15 or so for 300 g.

I also buy Green & Black's 70% ($7 per 100 g), and Lindt *Excellence* 70% ($5.80 per 100 g) from supermarkets. I actually prefer G & B to Valrhona (shock! horror!) but Valrhona is much cheaper (shock! horror!). Lindt has a large range btw, and not everything is good. Excellence 70% is the one I go for.

My taste may differ from yours but, generally speaking, you should use a fairly dark chocolate so that the chocolate taste is still strong after it's diluted with cream.

Anonymous said...

thks KT. i hv the G&B cocoa powder and its excellent. Like you i prefer dark bittersweet choc esp in baking.

Shu said...

Hi KT,

I tried your choc tart today. It was easy and the final product looks good too!! However, when I tried to cut it, the crust just crumble. The crust feels very weak and the base is very flaky too. Do you have any idea why and what can I do to improve it?

kt said...

If you make the dough drier and then add some egg, the crust would be stronger. It would be like the dough you make with the rubbing in or creaming method, i.e. less buttery and less flaky.

Shu said...

Hi KT,

Thanks! I shall try it again then! :)

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