Proportions are so important when it comes to creating a chocolate tart that exceeds all your expectations. The pastry cannot be too thick or soft; the filling must be soft and silky, not tough and chewy; and the intensity of chocolate has to be so well balanced that at the end of a meal, you can still enjoy the dessert without being overwhelmed. My recipe addresses all of these, so that it’s just what you expect from a glorious chocolate tart. Crisp pastry, soft, silky and well-balanced chocolate filling, and delicate yet architecturally impressive chocolate decorations. You will feel so special eating it and serving it at your next dinner party. Never serve it chilled, as this makes the pastry and the chocolate filling too cold to melt in the mouth. If it’s a warm day, though, then keep the decoration in the fridge until just before serving.
Paul demonstrated this fabulous recipe on the Get Baking! Stage at the BBC Good Food Show Winter 2022.
For the sweet pastry
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
85g icing sugar
1 medium free-range egg, beaten
½ tsp sea salt
200g plain flour + extra for dusting
1 tsp cocoa powder
For the ganache filling
200g dark chocolate, 66 per cent cocoa solids
100g milk chocolate
200ml whipping cream
50g light muscovado sugar
½ tsp sea salt flakes
For the decoration
300g dark chocolate, 66 per cent cocoa solids, chopped
1 tsp cocoa powder
Gold shimmer powder or edible
- First, make the sweet pastry. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and mix well until smooth, then stir in the salt, flour and cocoa powder to form a smooth paste. Wrap in a sheet of baking paper and chill for 1 hr.
- Knead until the paste is pliable, then roll out on a lightly floured worktop to a thickness of 3mm. Lift the pastry with the rolling pin and use it to line a greased 20cm loose-based shallow tart tin, leaving an overlap of pastry around the edge of the tin. Chill for 30 mins.
- Preheat the oven to 175C/ 155C fan/ gas mark 3½. Crumple a sheet of baking paper, then flatten it out. Lay it over the pastry and fill to the top with uncooked rice or lentils or baking beans. Blind-bake the pastry case for 15–20 mins, then remove the rice or lentils and baking paper and bake again for 10 mins. The pastry should look dry and crisp. Leave it in the tin to cool. You can freeze any leftover pastry to use another time.
- Meanwhile make the ganache filling, melt the dark and milk chocolate together in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water. Once melted, take off the heat.
- Combine the cream, sugar and sea salt in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil then take off the heat right away. Pour the cream mixture into the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the ganache into the tart case, filling it to the very top. Allow to cool at room temperature and refrigerate for 1 hr. Trim off any excess pastry from the tart edge then carefully lift the tart from the tin.
- To decorate, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water. This time, melt the chocolate halfway, so there are still some solid pieces of chocolate in the bowl among the melted chocolate. Now take it off the heat and keep stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Leave for 15 mins, then stir again.
- Scrunch up 4 pieces of baking paper measuring about 21 × 30cm, then smooth them out on your worktop. Divide the melted chocolate between the sheets and spread it out into a layer about 1mm thick. It doesn’t have to reach all the way to the edges, nor does it have to be neat.
- Place the chocolate sheets in the fridge, stacked on top of each other, and chill for 30 mins. Once chilled, peel off the paper and allow the chocolate to break and splinter.
- Push the chocolate shards into the top of the tart so they stand upright. You could begin in the centre and work outwards in concentric circles or arrange them in a pattern moving from one side to the other.
- Using some shimmer powder or edible gold leaf (or even if you want to go super bling), decorate some of the edges of the chocolate pieces using a small, clean paintbrush. Enjoy the tart at room temperature.
TIP: To add more joy, The ganache recipe can be flavoured very easily: add orange zest to the cream for a zingy chocolate-orange tart, or infuse the cream with some sweet herbs, like basil or mint.
For my favourite winter chocolate tart, I replace some of the cream with rum or whisky and sprinkle in a little ground nutmeg or cinnamon.
If you love berries, halve some raspberries and blueberries and line the tart case with them before pouring over the ganache.
Credit:The Joy of Chocolate by Paul A. Young is published by Kyle Books. Photography: Louise Hagger