I’m often stumped as to what to write when I begin this column but this time I really don’t know where to begin. Rustling up Christmas jollity when the people of the Gaza strip are being corralled from one corner to the other whilst their families and homes are being bombed into annihilation, one can only ask how low can humanity sink. With the war in Ukraine continuing and climate change wreaking havoc in different parts of the world it really doesn’t paint a pretty picture. As a species we really need to pull our socks up.
Life outside war zones continues on as normal and we are some of the fortunate ones, for that I am very grateful. One thing that we can do is not support the economies of the countries causing this strife so read the labels when you are shopping, and boycott the warmongers, it’s the very least we can do.
Someone told me once that when you’re feeling down you should eat chocolate, it helps depression. I googled this and it’s true. Eating chocolate can have a positive effect on our mental and emotional health, the neurochemicals within chocolate can act as a mood enhancer, relieve stress and make us feel calmer and happier. Phenylethyamine, one of the components within, not only acts as a mood lifter, it’s also one of the chemicals the brain produces when you fall in love. And sharing is always good, so plenty of hope there, which has helped me make the decision for this month’s recipe.
Tart au Chocolate or plain old chocolate tart is not only delicious but also very simple to make. So simple it almost falls into my category of recipe ‘cheats’. The ‘almost’ being the pastry involved but that’s not a problem, you can even cheat there and buy some.
The base of the chocolate tart is made with sweet pastry; we think the recipe that we use is delicious but it needs to be made the day before and can be problematic to roll, as if it’s not done quickly it becomes messy. If you have any doubts about your pastry rolling skills, just go and buy it. There is an Irish company producing sweet pastry; I haven’t personally tried it, but it sounds very good. Made in small batches, ‘Roll It’ sweet pastry is made with butter in Co Meath and sounds like it’s worth giving a go.
To ensure the pastry doesn’t shrink whilst cooking make sure it comes right up the sides of the tart shell and chill properly before baking. The pastry needs to be completely baked when baking, as it won’t cook any more once filled, so be sure to get it good and golden. If the base of the pastry rises up whilst baking, cover your hand with a clean t-towel and gently push it down to deflate. This needs to be done whilst it’s hot.
The filling is beyond simple, just melt chocolate, mix together with milk and cream, beat in the eggs and pour into the tart shell. It doesn’t even require any real cooking, just put it into a hot oven and turn it off. Let it cool and hey presto it’s ready to go.
The recipe below makes a large tart but scale it back if you need to. I never bother, as leftover chocolate pots are always popular in our house and keep well in the fridge for a few days.
If you would like our sweet pastry recipe just drop me an email and I’ll send it on.
Tart au Chocolate
Once you have a pre-baked sweet tart shell this is simplicity itself. There really isn’t anything to it other than finding good quality chocolate. You’re pretty much guaranteed to receive compliments!
• 500g chocolate – 55pc or 70pc cocoa mass
• 3 eggs
• 150ml milk
• 350ml cream
• 1 pre-cooked 28cm sweet tart shell
• chocolate curls or a few berries to garnish
Pre heat the oven to 180°
Melt the chocolate in a bain marie – a bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water.
Put the milk and cream into a saucepan and heat until boiling.
Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk in the boiling milk and cream followed by the chocolate.
Pour the mix into the pre baked tart shell and place into the pre heated oven. Fill the tart shell as much as you dare without it spilling over the edge.
Turn the oven off and leave until the tart has cooled. Chill before serving.
If there is any leftover mix pour it into a cup or ramekin and pop it into the oven with the tart. You’ll have a bonus mini pot au chocolate.
Decorate the tart with chocolate curls or strawberries to serve
Wishing everyone a joyous Christmas and here’s hoping for peace in the coming year.