(This article appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)
This is a simple, elegant tart highlighting the natural balance between chocolate and hazelnuts. The visual inspiration for this creation comes from my life here along the base of the Front Range in the Rocky Mountains. Every morning I drive along the range and watch the sun coming in from the east, reflecting on the different elevations, textures, tree lines and beautiful landscape that is the Rockies. It’s a very peaceful way to start the day. Along the same lines of peacefulness and simplicity, I wanted to provide something in the pastry world that is timeless. A beautiful and well executed tart au chocolat is just as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. It is such a simple yet satisfying tradition in our industry. In this version, the additional seasoning of lemon zest and cinnamon help to enhance an already natural pairing.
Yield: two 8” tarts
- 492 g all-purpose flour
- 10 g baking powder
- 248 g unsalted butter (83% fat), room temperature
- 200 g super-fine granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 12 g fleur de sel
- 2 fresh eggs, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- Mix the flour and baking together well and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and salt together on medium speed just until combined and creamy. Add the eggs and egg yolk slowly and mix to ensure a proper emulsion. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Pull dough from the mixing bowl and place directly onto plastic wrap. Form into a flat square and reserve in cooler overnight to mature.
- Note: The small addition of the baking powder in this recipe helps create a more tender tart shell which makes for a better bite.
- 240 g Valrhona dark chocolate 66%
- 270 g Valrhona Azélia hazelnut milk chocolate 35%
- 270 g heavy cream (36%-38% fat)
- 110 g whole milk
- Either chop the chocolate into small pieces or melt the two chocolates together to 97˚F (36˚C) and reserve.
- Bring the cream and milk to scalding. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the chocolate. Starting from the center, using a rubber spatula, make small circles and begin emulsion. Add the cream in two other additions, making sure to thoroughly mix in each addition. Once all the ingredients are combined, use an immersion blender to homogenize or perfect the ganache.
- 300 g heavy cream (36%-38% fat)
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 15 g confectioners’ sugar
- 2 Cassia cinnamon sticks
- Place the cinnamon sticks into a small sauté pan on medium heat and toast just for a few seconds.
- Place the cinnamon sticks and the scraped vanilla bean seeds into the heavy cream and store in cooler overnight for cold infusion.
- Remove the cream from the cooler and strain out the cinnamon. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whip to soft peaks. Place the chantilly in a piping bag fitted with a medium plain tip.
Hazelnut Cinnamon Streusel
- 159 g unsalted butter (83% fat), room temperature
- 90 g raw sugar
- 40 g finely chopped hazelnuts
- 75 g rolled oats
- 2 g fleur de sel
- 170 g all-purpose flour
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until a crumbly dough forms.
- Spread streusel onto a lined sheet pan and bake at 356˚F (180˚C) for 10-12 minutes, tossing the streusel with an offset spatula every 3-4 minutes during baking. (You can bake to your preferred doneness – I prefer large pieces that still have a bit of a chew in the finished product.)
- 500 g Valrhona dark chocolate 66%
- 2 sheets soft acetate plastic (guitar sheets)
- Temper the chocolate and pour it onto one side of one of the acetate sheets. Place the second sheet of acetate on top, making sure the two sheets are directly lined up with each other. Using a rolling pin, carefully push the chocolate, thinning it out between the two sheets of acetate. Once the chocolate begins to crystalize, use a ring cutter (the size of your choice) to cut circles while leaving the chocolate between the two sheets of acetate. There should be a visible definition of the circle from the ring cutter. While the chocolate is still malleable, roll the sheets around the rolling pin or any cylinder of a similar size. Allow to crystalize, preferably 24 hours.
- Unroll the acetate and remove the circles. The finished product should be a curved circle that has a lip around the edge and is shiny on both sides.
- Remove the Pâte Sucrée from the cooler and begin to roll the dough out. Make sure to dust the workspace with flour and to rotate and flip the dough with every couple of rolls. Roll to desired thickness (I prefer to roll slightly thicker than traditional 1/8” for the large format – this makes for a better balance of textures). Lightly butter an 8” perforated tart ring. If you do not have access to a perforated ring, a traditional solid ring is just fine. Begin the fonçage technique by lining the perforated tart ring with the rolled-out dough and slowly easing it into the shape of the ring. Once the ring is lined and there are no gaps in the bottom, tap the lined ring down on the work surface to ensure the bottom is flat and even. Using a paring knife or small offset spatula, cut the excess dough from the top of the ring, cutting outward (away from the tart shell).
- Bake the tart shell at 356˚F (180˚C) for 15-20 minutes, or until you achieve desired doneness. (If using a traditional ring mold, you will need to blind bake with weights.) The tart shell should be bien cuit, or well baked – a golden color. Allow the tart shell to cool thoroughly.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the inside of the tart shell with melted, tempered cocoa butter. Be sure not to add too much, just enough to very thinly coat the inside of the shell and protect the integrity of the sablée from humidity.
- Using a ladle or piping bag, fill the baked, coated tart shell with the finished ganache. Fill to the top of the shell, and make sure the finish is nice and smooth. Allow the filled tart to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before placing into the cooler.
- Remove the filled tart from the cooler after the ganache has completely crystalized.
- Pipe Cinnamon Chantilly kisses around the tart, spacing them evenly. Place pieces of Hazelnut Cinnamon Streusel around the tart organically. Place eight to ten chocolate discs around the tart in different directions. Garnish with pieces of candied hazelnuts. Finish tart by grating crystalized chocolate over the top. Do not serve the tart directly from the cooler – it should be room temperature for the best bite.
Photo credit: Chad Chisholm, Custom Creations Photography