In the words of RENT, “525,600 minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?” One way for me has been this blog. With the 52nd recipe provided in this post, I have reached the end of my first year as a blogger. I will admit that there have been times when I have seriously considered giving up – there are few things more demoralising than realising at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon that I have to cook and write a post before heading out to orchestra rehearsals. However, even with all those struggles, it has been incredibly rewarding.
A couple of times this year, I have been chatting to someone and they will drop into conversation that they read my blog and have tried out a recipe or two – occasionally they even send a photo – and it is very satisfying to know that people are enjoying this. I had been thinking about starting thatcookingthing for a good two years before it became a reality and one of my main concerns was that no one would read it, so knowing that some people are reading the weekly posts and interacting with me is especially exciting. One of my main motivations to start writing was the decision that I want to go into media production. I will be starting a Masters course in Science Media Production in a couple of months and although this clearly isn’t a science blog, you may have noticed my passion for science slipping into the introduction to the recipe every now and then.
I wanted to finish this year with a bit of a showstopper. I know tarts are not very tall but they are definitely some of the most beautiful foods around. They are incredibly versatile – I have only given recipes for sweet tarts on here however I am partial to a caramelised onion and goats cheese tart or even a garlic tart when I don’t want any contact with people for the next week. The chocolate tart recipe below gives a crisp, slightly nutty pastry filled with a smooth, silky chocolate filling and topped with a gorgeous shiny glaze. The glucose in the glaze is what give it the lustre – rather like in a mirror glaze – so is an vital ingredient. This tart is beautiful to look at and tastes absolutely divine!
Hazelnut and Chocolate Tart
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
For the pastry:
100g hazelnuts (75g for the pastry and 25g for decoration)
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp iced water
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
170g dark chocolate
80ml water (1/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the glaze (optional):
2 tbsp glucose syrup
50ml boiling water
To prepare the hazelnuts:
Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4).
Place the hazelnuts onto a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for fifteen minutes, stirring every five.
Remove the hazelnuts from the oven. If they were already blanched and have had their skin removed, leave them to cool and skip to the pastry making step.
If the hazelnuts still have their skins on, pour them onto a tea towel and wrap them up in it – it is easiest to do this by lining a bowl with the towel and then pouring the hazelnuts into the bowl.
Let them steam for a minute and then massage the tea towel with the hazelnuts still inside. The steamy environment created by wrapping up the nuts will loosen the skins and rubbing them together will cause the skins to flake off.
Once the majority of the skins have come off, remove the nuts from the towel and leave them to cool.
To make the pastry:
Once your hazelnuts are cool, place them into a food processor and coarsely grind them. Measure out 75g and place it back into the food processor whilst keeping the last 25g for later.
Add the flour to the food processor and blitz it for around 30 seconds to grind up the last bits of the nuts to make sure the pastry is smooth.
Cube the butter and add it to the processor. Pulse this until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and pulse to combine.
Place the egg, water and vanilla into the processor and mix until the dough starts to come together.
When the dough becomes sticky, pour it out onto a surface and squeeze it together with your hands to form a ball. Wrap this in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Roll out the pastry to a couple of millimetres and drape it into a nine to ten inch flan tin.
Press it into the edges of the tin and trim off the excess pastry.
Prick the base all over with a fork and place the tin back into the fridge for around ten minutes. This will help prevent the pastry shrinking too much in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (gas mark 5) while the tart case is resting.
Line the inside of the tart tin with baking parchment or foil and pour in baking beads to weigh down the pastry in the oven. If you don’t have baking beads, rice or lentils also work but you cannot use them for normal cooking after this.
Bake the tart for fifteen minutes.
Remove the baking beads and bake for a further 5 minutes to help dry the inside.
After five minutes, reduce the oven to 150°C (gas mark 2).
Once you have removed the baking beads, start to make the filling.
Heat the water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan until it is boiling.
Break the chocolate into a bowl and pour the water and butter mix over it.
Leave the mix for two or three minutes for the chocolate to melt, add the vanilla and stir together to create a smooth water ganache.
Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl to break down their structure and then whisk them into the chocolate mix. It may thicken up and go a little gelatinous but keep beating it and it will smooth out again.
Remove the tart tin from the oven and pour in the filling. Make sure there is enough room on top of the tart to add the glaze later.
Bake for 15-20 minutes (at the lower temperature) until the tart is set about three inches from the edge but the centre is still a little wobbly. This is good as the residual heat will cook the centre of the tart.
Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool.
If you wish to add a glaze, place the tart in the fridge for at least an hour so it is fully set.
Heat the glucose, butter and water in a pan until it is boiling.
Chop the chocolate into smallish chunks and place into a bowl. This is because you are only making a little glaze so it will lose heat quickly and you want to melt the chocolate with the hot water.
Pour the liquid over the chocolate and leave for two minutes for the chocolate to melt.
Whisk the glaze together. If it is very thick, add a tablespoon of boiling water to help thin it down again. The glaze should be able to flow so it can be spread over the top of the tart.
Remove the tart from the fridge and pour the glaze onto it through a fine mesh sieve. This will remove any air bubble from the glaze giving the tart a completely flat top.
Tilt the tart to ensure the glaze fully covers the top and then leave it on a flat surface to set.
Use the hazelnuts set aside earlier to decorate the tart. You can also use raspberries, strawberries or any fruit of your choice!
You can serve this with cream to cut through the chocolate but I like it just as a slice of tart on a plate.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe! Let me know if you have a go making it yourself – obviously you can just use normal shortcrust if you don’t like nuts and the glaze is another optional extra but I love to know how my recipes turn out for you guys! If you like this, then you are sure to love my quadruple chocolate and salted caramel tart too. If you are looking for something a little bit more on the savoury side, you should check out my recipe for a delicious salmon curry. It’s packed full of flavour and is incredibly fast and easy to make.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a meatball recipe which not only tastes great but keeps really well and can be batch cooked and frozen.