"Food: Science, Art, Passion, Pleasure, Adventure & Exploration"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Baking Adventure 17: Chocolate Cream Tart with Rum

Ebony and ivory, black and white, yin and yang, dark and light...

Sounds like the beginning of some arcane magical spell being chanted out in a fragrant, misty forest amid a dark,  indigo-blue, midnight sky full of bright, pulsating stars and a surrounding crowd of tall, wondrous trees...

OK, you get the picture here. What can I say? Cream goes wonderfully well with chocolate. They're not opposites, but together they honor the dark and light contrasting theme in a sentimental way.

I originally wanted to do a salted chocolate tart. We often see salted tarts with caramel fillings (which are mighty good, too), but salt, in the right amount can add so much to the flavor of certain chocolate-based desserts whether you are adding the salt granules themselves or using salted butter...

Since I was on a self-learning tart kick recently, I included making a chocolate tart on my agenda using salted butter, although it veered from the original plan. I concocted my own recipe from a couple of recipes I saw online, with lots of tweaking here and there through innovation, and came out with something decadent, unique, and tasty.

I will be providing links to both recipes as well as talking about what I did differently to make a custom recipe overall.

The first step was in making a chocolate crust for the tart. I was excited about this part because I've never made a rich, dark-brown chocolate crust from scratch and it just reminds me of the fact that there are so many intriguing ways to prepare and flavor crusts for tarts, pies, cobblers, buckles, brambles, crunches, crisps, and grunts (to name a few in the crusted dessert family).

I began by taking butter that I browned and chilled in the refrigerator and added it to brown sugar to begin creaming both together. Then, I beat a large egg and added that to the creamed sugar and butter. The recipe calls for white sugar, but I felt that brown sugar, as well as the brown butter, would enrich the crust with a wealthy flavor. The brown sugar changed things up a bit, but I'll explain that a bit later...

After preparing the base of the chocolate crust mixture (I know some people hate this word, but it applies so well here because we have a composite blend), I added it to a waiting container of dry ingredients which consisted of:
  • All purpose flour
  • Valrhona unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking powder
Whisking dry ingredients

Adding creamed mixture to dry ingredients

Texture of crust batter after dry and wet are combined a bit more

When I merged the dry and wet ingredients, I found that the combination was a little dry. By substituting brown sugar for white sugar in the creaming process, I think I missed out on carefully packing in the brown sugar within the measuring cup. I might have had less brown sugar than needed. Brown sugar adds more moisture to recipes than white sugar, so you'd think I wouldn't have this problem with dryness, but I can't think of any other reason why the crust batter came out so dry.

I had to find a way to alleviate this problem. I had already creamed my sugar and butter and added an egg. This aerating process was done, so I thought, "Why not add a bit of heavy cream to the batter?"  This is exactly what I did. I loosely added about 1/8 cup of heavy cream and at that point I begin to see the dough come into place so I could sort it out into a pliable, round mound of deep, dark, chocolate dough:

Beautiful chocolate mound
At this point, I flattened the dough mound into a round disc, embraced it with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour and a half.

After 90 minutes, it was time to take out the cold, chocolate dough and roll it out so that I could crust my tart pan.

I should have snapped more photos of the process here, but I didn't, since I had so many pensive but good thoughts on my mind while making this crust. I guess this is where absentmindedness is not so criminal.

Anyway, I was able to get a very good fit of the crust into the pan as you can see below:

This pie crust certainly needed to be pre-baked because the filling I used was not a cooked filling. It just needed to set and chilled in the refrigerator atop the crust.

Info: For pies with ready-fillings that do not require any cooking, such as custards, mousses, firm puddings, cream cheeses and the like, you need to have a fully baked pie crust before adding your filling. Some fruit pies are also best prepared with a crust that is pre-baked but not necessarily fully baked. Sometimes, if the crust is not pre-baked in a fruit pie, the bottom crust will come out slightly raw, while the top crust is baked all the way through. This incongruity will prevent the option of placing the pie back into the oven so that the bottom crust can bake all the way through, without burning the top crust. If the bottom crust is slightly raw in a pie with two crusts, it can still be eaten but you won't have a crust recipe that was executed very well.

I poked a few holes with a fork into my crust after fitting the crust in the tart pan.  Because the crust was dark, I knew it was going to be hard to tell whether or not it was done. Furthermore, I was using a pile of pinto beans as my pie weights. I fitted the crust with a sheet of parchment paper and poured in a lot of pinto beans. This was going to make checking on the crust's "doneness" a little more "wild-style." LOL

"A little help from my friends..."
I figured I'd just keep checking on the crust after 20 minutes. I didn't want a burnt crust after all of this work and time. I prodded my pie crust a few times with a fork during the baking. Each time I had to remove the beans and parchment paper carefully in order to prod underneath. My cerebral, curious-induced brand of neuroticism paid off and my crust came out perfectly as a result. It was very much like a chocolate cookie crust and I could see that it was also flaky. The smell emanating from the tart pan was deliciously provocative. I removed my bean pals and parchment paper, which now had a beige tint to it, resembling an old and worn book page from an ancient book.

Fully baked chocolate pie crust with proper fork holes
I let the pie crust completely cool before adding in my fillings. The main filling was a chocolate ganache infused with a bit of dark rum and the top layer (slightly thinner) was a sweet cream cheese filling.

To prepare the chocolate ganache I used these ingredients:
  • Callebaut bittersweet chocolate callets
  • Callebaut milk chocolate pistoles 
  • Salted butter
  • Brown rice syrup (I learned this is best for replacing corn syrup)
  • Rum
  • Heavy cream

I didn't get a shot of the heavy cream heating on the stove, but after including everything into the glass bowl, I poured the hot heavy cream over the ingredients and stirred very steadily but not too fast. I wanted the ingredients to blend nicely and for the chocolate ganache to be smooth rather than clumpy.

The ganache was poured over my cooled chocolate crust.

I let the tart set in the refrigerator for an hour so that the chocolate ganache filling could firm up in order to bear the top cream cheese layer.

The cream cheese layer simply consisted of:

cream cheese
white sugar
a few capfuls of rum
heavy cream
a dash of cocoa powder for a slight marbling effect, visually

I blended the first four ingredients well and spread the cream cheese filling over the firm chocolate ganache filling. I then added the cocoa powder and begin to marble the cocoa powder into the whiteness of the cream cheese blend. I let the entire tart set in the refrigerator for 3 hours before trying out a slice.

This first slice below was mine and I enjoyed every bit of it. Truly indulgent. The recipes that inspired this baking adventure can be found through the links I've listed below. 

Crust inspiration (find the crust section of the recipe): LINK
Filling inspiration (check out the section for filling): LINK 

As you can see, although I really get a kick of learning a recipe that's already been established, I tremendously enjoy innovating and throwing in my own ideas. This makes me feel a lot more involved  and expressive with the experimentation. It gives me a creative voice while I happily learn.

Please, feel free to ask me any questions about this adventure or any other, for that matter. I'm always happy to hear any feedback!

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