I wasn’t going to make anything for the blog this weekend because I posted my “this is why pastry chefs cry” rant, and because I decided to sandwich mint chocolate ice cream between macarons, which is never a bad idea.
But then I was thinking about pies, which led me to tarts, so I flipped through the book and found the Dark Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Tart. In it’s most basic form (which is not how it is presented in publication, but that’s not the point), this is super basic and totally delicious. And if you bake frequently, you probably have all the ingredients for this in your cupboard.
So I decided to make this simple, elegant tart as a calorically dense high-five for my pie-a-versary. This week, I will have made 5000 pies. I dunno how you feel about pie, but I think that is a lot of pie.
I’ve often shown up at events, tart in hand, and people have said things like “Wow, that’s a great pie!”
And I smile and nod and try not to grit through my teeth in a completely rude way “Thanks,” smile, “it’s a tart.” Keep smiling. SMILING.
So what’s the difference?
In the most basic way, a pie is made in a pie dish — it has sides that are probably at 45 degrees and range between 2 and 5 inches. Sometimes they have tops (double crust) or lattice work. Their dough is often crimped along the edge by hand (using the thumb and forefingers), sometimes they are crimped with a fork, or a twisted braid, or edged with dough cut into shapes like leaves. They are usually filled with a fruit, sugar, and cornstarch, but can have cream or custard fillings. They are more often than not described as “rustic” with their flaky pastry and are very, intensely American.
Everything about a tart is more refined, reduced. The sides are often short, only 1 or 2 inches, either 75 or 90 degree angles. Rarely is the rich filling baked in a tart, unless it is lined with almond cream, which is used mostly to keep the cream filling from soggifying the crust or is a baked custard enrobing thinly sliced and perfectly lined up apples or pears. If the sides are fluted, it’s usually because it was made in a fluted tart tin — not fluting by hand (and using a shortcrust, which is more like a butter cookie with little flake) keeps the crusts clean and perfect. If there are berries, they are more often fresh and given a sheen of neutral glaze. Tarts never have tops.
In December I was going to give a class on making ice cream. But then the lovely ladies running the program suggested that perhaps the class size would be hindered due to it being…December. Well. I can’t say I consume a great deal of ice cream, but if it’s offered to me in December I’m just as likely to accept as in July. In fact, maybe more so. I don’t care for melted ice cream. If I did, I’d just drink crème anglaise. Anyway, I’m now doing it in July. This is not something I can do in July:
The only time you will ever hear me cheering about -20 temperatures is when I want to make two batches of ice cream in a twelve hour period. My freezer cannot accommodate such volume. My balcony is the only reason my ice cream production spikes December through March.
Since my new rules for this project dictate I need only technically make a recipe once, and not over and over again as many times as various recipes appear throughout the book, I am declaring right now that, unless I feel it incredibly necessary for some kind of structural integrity, I am not making Crème Fraîche quenelles again.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike them. I very much dislike either taking four days to make crème fraîche or buying a tub of it. The stuff will turn before I can use it for another recipe (I can only photograph on the weekend due to my work hours and a north-facing apartment), and then I slowly melt into the Sneaky Hate Spiral no one wants to witness.
For years I’ve been drooling over a book written by Frédéric Bau called Au Coeur des Saveurs. It is out of print. For some reason I haven’t minded throwing down a couple hundred for other books, but this one I’ve always put off even though I have it on very good interweb researching authority that it is most excellent. Maybe I don’t want to believe that plated desserts is my thing. Everyone has one, and in pastry you develop a strength in one of four things: Cakes, Confections, Plated Desserts, or Viennoiserie. Cakes I can do well, desserts I <3. Keep in mind I make pie for moneys, not dessert.
Blahblahblah. Anyway, he edited a new book cause now he’s the big toque at Valrhona’s Grande École. And this ice cream is in it. I thought there was nothing it could be more suited for but this tart.
Cocoa Nib Ice Cream – Adapted from Cooking with Chocolate
2 tsp Honey
85g Cocoa Nibs
Toast nibs in 300 degree oven for 10 minutes. Bring dairy and honey to boil, temper blanchired sugar and yolks, cook to 84 degrees, add nibs and give ‘er a good stir, transfer to a bowl and cool down over ice, on your balcony in -20, or lacking those pour into a large cake pan and stick it in your freezer. Mature overnight in fridge. Strain. Churn. I threw about 20g of nibs back into the ice cream. NOMNOMNOM. Makes a little over a pint.
No wait! Don’t eat it. Make something nice for it. The bitter, smokey flavour of the cocoa nibs needs nice things:
I used a GF version of Valrhona’s Almond Shortcrust. At the bistro I had to make hundreds of individual tarts. The sucrée dough was easy to work with speed-wise, but very finicky when it came to baking. Underbaked meant the sides would collapse or absorb too much curd or mousse, baked as you would a full sized tart and you couldn’t cut through them with a fork (so embarrassing), so just ever so slightly underbaked was perfect. When you’re baking in a demo room or in the basement because your oven is full of drying pancetta, this was difficult to achieve. I am still ashamed of some of the tart shells I sent out. This almond shortcrust is phenomenal — I ate the tart with my preferred dessert utensil (spoon) without issue. It’s a pain to fonçage, but totally worth the effort.
Valrhona’s Almond Shortcrust (GF) — This recipe is practically identical to that in MC
120g soft butter
90g icing sugar
15g Almond Flour (toast first for deeper flavour)
60g sweet white sorghum flour (or pastry flour)
15g potato starch / 15g potato flour / 150g brown rice flour (or 180g pastry flour)
Combine all but the second scaling of flour, the add flour in two additions until just mixed. Roll between saran wrap or acetate (don’t use parchment! I tried, it sticks like crazy) and chill for 30 min. Dough should be cool but pliable.
The only adjustment I made to the ganache (which is 42% chocolate, 53% cream, 5% butter) was to add 2 tbsp of Honey and 3/4 tbsp Espresso Powder to the cream. Awesome. Lick the bowl awesome, and I don’t generally do that. It turned out well. I think this would be a hit with all the customers I don’t have (my cafè friends will be over the moon methinks), but this ice cream is perhaps better then the time I churned a bunch of left over crème brulée. And you know how much I like to eat burned things.
I finished it off with the gorgeous Coffee Bean Brittle à la BraveTart, cause I think I’m in love with her blog.
Random ice cream macwich!