Monday, April 6, 2015

Chocolate Almond Tart

I cannot seem to find the time to compose an interesting or well-written blog post these days.  The house seems to consume all of my time and attention, and when I'm not working on the house, I'm baking, then setting up photo shoots, then editing photos, and all my energy is spent with nothing left over for the writing.

Our weekend disappeared in a haze of back-breaking work on the kitchen.  After the counter installation last Friday, we spent all day Saturday putting up white subway tile backsplash, and then finished the grout work on Sunday.  What an exhausting project.

I have completely fallen in love with my "new" kitchen, and I can't wait to share photos of the changes we've made.  It's not quite finished - there are a few more finishing touches needed.  We need a microwave; and Jamie is still working on sanding and staining the walnut island top, so in the meantime, I prepared Easter dinner on a slab of spare drywall set over the top of the island, which worked quite well in the interim.

Somehow, after all that work, and with my feet and shoulders aching beyond belief, I mustered up the energy to bake a ham in a sweet orange glaze, roast some carrots and potatoes, whip up a batch of cupcakes, and even bake homemade rosemary rolls.  Because what is leftover ham without a soft bun and a spoonful of mustard for the most delectable mini sandwich?

But now that it's been a week since my last post, I feel I can't wait any longer to share this recipe.  So I hope you will forgive my lack of eloquence over this chocolate almond tart, but believe me when I tell you it is fantastic.

It's no secret I love any sweet thing baked with almonds, and this tart epitomizes my long-time love affair with almond pastries.

I had been promising Jamie a pie - so one Friday night when he went out to pick up sushi for dinner, I mixed up almond shortbread dough and baked it in my pretty French tart pan.  The tart may look complex, but it's actually fairly simple with very few ingredients.  After baking, the crust is filled with almond pastry filling - available at most grocery stores - and topped with dark chocolate ganache, made with a 1-1 ratio of bittersweet chocolate and cream.  I finished the tart with sliced toasted almonds and coarse sea salt.  And then, it just needs some time for the ganache to set, and the tart is ready to be served.

Beautiful, simple and elegant.

Chocolate Almond Tart

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 can almond pastry filling (8-10 ounces)
  • 4 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • sliced almonds
  • coarse sea salt

In your food processor, combine the flour, sugar, almonds and salt until the almonds are finely ground.  Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, and pulse to incorporate.  Add the egg yolk, and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles moist cornmeal; stop processing before the dough comes together into a ball (if it does, then you'll have to roll it out instead).

Grease a tart pan with a removeable bottom.  If you're using a round 9-inch tart pan, use all the dough; if you're using a long rectangular tart pan like mine, measuring 5x14 inches, then just use half the dough and freeze the rest (see note).  Press the dough crumbs firmly against the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Freeze in the pan for 30 minutes before baking.  (Note, to freeze the excess dough for later use, you can either put the crumbs in a freezer bag which you can thaw later and press into a pan, or you can gather the crumbs into a ball, press into a disk, then wrap and freeze to roll out later, or you could go ahead and press the crumbs into an extra tart pan and freeze the dough in the pan to bake later.  Whatever works best for you.)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and fit against the frozen dough.  Fill with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Lift out the foil with the weights and bake, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Spoon the almond filling into the warm crust.

In a saucepan, bring the cream to a gentle simmer over medium low heat.  Finely chop the chocolate.  Remove the cream from the heat, add the chocolate, and let stand for 3 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Pour over the almond filling and smooth out the top.

Sprinkle with the almonds and coarse salt.  Let stand for several hours, or overnight, at room temperature, until the ganache is firm, then slice and serve.

Yields 10-12 servings

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen