Chocolate tart is a much loved dessert in our home. It is a taste sensation, with a smooth velvety ganache, melting in your mouth against a backdrop of crunchy tart biscuit. It can be sweet and bright (milk chocolate) or dark and salted (Salted dark chocolate). Use your favourite chocolate and this will be a great dessert for any occasion.
We’ve often decorated our tarts with chocolate pearls, tempered chocolate and Fresh As freeze dried fruits (raspberry and mandarin are our favourites). In this recipe, we’ve piped our favourite swiss meringue buttercream stars on as decoration. We used our latest favourite chocolate from Foundry Chocolate, a micro batch, bean-to-bar producer based in Mahurangi, New Zealand. Beans are sourced from around the world – Peru, Tanzania, Colombia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia and Ecuador. Each batch produced is unique and has distinctive flavours. After multiple tastings (we’ve dutifully tried their whole range a few times at markets and shows), we can attest to that. We chose the Vanuatu for this particular occasion. From the Masidau Farm, Epi, Vanuatu, the flavour profile includes notes of toffee, caramel and mocha. I knew exactly what dessert I would add these to the moment I tried the chocolate.
To facilitate our Saturday morning styling sessions, I prepared the elements slightly differently to a normal bake-and-eat: I prepared the tarts the night before, to allow time for the ganache to set. Instead of piping the buttercream directly onto the tart (i.e. waiting 4 hours) I piped the swiss meringue buttercream stars onto baking paper and let them harden up in the fridge. This is done at the same time as the poured ganache is setting.
So when morning rolls around, the naked tarts will be ready to be decorated with the now-hardened buttercream stars. It’s quite easy really – using two offset spatulas, just gently lift each off from the baking paper and place onto the surface of the chocolate ganache. Another positive of this is that you can easily adjust the placement of the stars – as they have hardened, they will retain their shape as you lift and place them.
Chocolate Pâte Sablée tart shell
- 420g (2 cups) plain flour
- 80g (3/4 cup) almond meal
- 30g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
- 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
- 120g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
- 125g unsalted butter (I use Westgold), softened
- 1 large egg + 1 yolk (size 7)
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
- Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg and yolk one after the other. Mix until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the mixer to low, beat in the flour mixture until the dough just comes together and you can’t see any streaks of flour. Do not overmix. (The dough should hold when pressed together between your fingertips. If not, lightly mix in up to 1 tablespoon milk.)
- Place half the dough on a piece of baking paper. Gather the dough together and press it into a round disk. Place a second sheet of baking paper on top and roll the dough out to 3mm thick. Take note of the size of the ring you are using.
- Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
- Chill in the fridge for an hour or overnight.
- If using tart cases (rings with with a base), lift the dough over the case and press gently to fit it.
- If using rings, place rings on dough and using a sharp knife, cut a circle of dough by following the inside rim.
- If using perforated rings, cut dough by pressing down on dough.
- Cut long strips of dough to line the walls of the tart and press along the seams to close. Make sure you check there are no gaps – ganache will leak out! Prick the bottom of the dough.
- Place prepared tart rings on silicone mats to bake. I don’t need to blind bake tarts when using these, but if you aren’t using silicone mats, it is recommended that you blind bake the tarts for 8 minutes before removing the baking beans and baking a further 5 minutes.
- If using silicone mats, fan bake at 165 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.
- Cool completely before assembling tart.
Milk Chocolate Ganache filling
- 415g milk chocolate, chopped
- 285ml cream (35% fat minimum)
- 60g butter, unsalted
- Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.
- In a small saucepan, heat the cream up until small bubbles starts to form on the side of the pan. Just before it starts to steam, take it off the heat.
- Pour this over the chopped chocolate, and let it sit for 2 mins before stiring with a spatula. It will thicken and become glossy.
- You can even use a stick blender to achieve an extra smooth finish to the ganache, should you prefer.
- Pour the ganache into the cooled tart base. Tap the tart lightly on your work surface to get rid of any air bubbles. Let it firm up in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.
Ombre Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 75g egg whites (from about 2 eggs)
- 110g caster sugar
- 140g butter, softened (not melted)
- 70g dark chocolate, melted (Foundry Chocolate – Vanuatu)
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Whisk by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan one-third full with water and bring to a simmer.
- Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. (I have a small metal steamer rack that I use to rest the bowl on as my saucepan is a bit too wide for the bowl to sit on). Whisking constantly, warm the egg mixture until it reaches 60-65 degrees C on a candy thermometer.
- Once hot and sugar has dissolved, place the mixer bowl back on the stand. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form and the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes). At this point, it should be very glossy.
- Turn the mixer speed down to low and add in the softened butter about a tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and change the whisk to the paddle attachment.
- Have 2 piping bags ready, fitted with different sizes of star tips. Add half of the melted chocolate into the buttercream, paddle to incorporate into a caramel shade of brown. Scoop half of the buttercream into a piping bag. Add the remaining melted chocolate into the buttercream and paddle to combine into a rich dark chocolate shade. Scoop this into the second piping bag.
When the ganache has set, pipe the two different shades of buttercream on, alternating in sizes and height.
Sometimes I don’t have the full day to make this, and to save time on Saturday morning when we usually style and shoot photos, I pipe the stars ahead of time, onto baking paper and let them harden in the fridge (or freeze!). This way we have them ready for placement first thing in the morning.