I can’t believe it’s been about a year since David Lebovitz came to Rome and we hosted a book signing party for him. Of course I bought a copy of the book, Ready for Dessert, and made immediate plans to bake my way through it.
And then…it’s been more or less a year of not baking. I go through phases, especially when it comes to sweets. There was a very long jam phase. And the whole gelato thing. And for a while I was making a lot of biscotti. But for some reason this past year I’ve been almost ignoring desert altogether.
I think it has a lot to do with my playing make believe that if I didn’t serve dessert then that sort of counted as being on some kind of diet. While working on my new apps, Eat Italy and Eat Italy I’ve been going out to eat even more than usual and felt the need to cut back in some way. Of course I knew I was only kidding myself that it made any difference.
But the result was that while I read David’s book cover to cover, and tagged my favorites with post-its I never got around to baking from it until this weekend. It was Domenico’s birthday and I told him to pick whatever he wanted from Ready for Dessert and I would make it for him. Well, of course he picked the Marjolaine, on page 28. Ok David, I know baking takes some dedication, but that cake would have taken me the entire day to make. I think it must be the most complicated recipe in the entire book.
I made up some excuse about not being able to get any creme fraiche and settled on the Chocolate Ganache Custard Tart, on page 123. I think in terms of the easy to make vs. impress your guests ratio, this one wins the prize. It has a crispy buttery crust that you don’t even have to roll out. And the filling is just four ingredients. It’s sort of like a Frenchified version of my favorite crostata, with chocolate and cream taking the place of jam. And it was suitably elegant for the birthday dinner party: dark, almost black chocolate filling in a deep golden crust.
Domenico was very happy since, like all of David’s recipes, it was delicious. My guests were very impressed because it looked so professional. Now that I’ve broken my year-long non-baking streak, I just may attempt the Marjolaine. If I can get some creme fraiche, that is.
Chocolate Ganache Custard Tart
(adapted from David Lebovitz Ready for Dessert)
10 oz (230 gr.) dark chocolate (I used Perugino Nero, 85%)
1 cup (250m.) heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons Grappa or something similar
Pre-baked tart shell:
6 Tablespoons of salted butter (3 oz/85gr) , room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup (140 gr) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Place sugar and butter in a bowl and mix until smooth. Add egg and mix well. Add flour and mix until it just comes together. Take it out of bowl and give it a few good shoves with the heel of your hand to bring it all together. Don’t over mix it.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with parchment paper. Put the dough in the center of the pan and gently push it out to cover the pan with the side of your hand, the heel of your hand and your fingers. Push the dough so it comes up the sides evenly.
Put the dough-lined tart pan in the freezer for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 375F( 190C).
Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and stick the tart dough a few times with a fork. Bake the tart shell on a baking sheet for about 7 minutes. (If the bottom as puffed up pat it down with the back of a spatula. )Continue baking until a deep golden brown. About 15 minutes more.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Baking the Tart:
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
In a large metal bowl, combine the chocolate and cream. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Take the bowl off the heat and whisk in the egg, egg yolk and Marc de Champagne. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked tart shell, smoothing it out gently with the back of a spoon. (You’ll see that once you add the egg it gets very thick)
Set the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until the filling looks set, , about 20 minutes. Don’t over bake. It actually looks pretty liquid at this point, with pools of butter floating on top. But it firms up when cooled, don’t worry. Let cool completely.
I served the tart with whipped cream and cut up strawberries which I had let sit for an hour with a bit of sugar. And the chocolate I used was really really dark, so the cake wasn’t sweet at all. Just intensely chocolate. I may try using a slightly less intense chocolate next time around, or swirl in some white chocolate ganache. Or maybe even add some peanut butter?