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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Last Course: Mint Chocolate Truffle Tart

Because, let's face it, once you've made truffles, the logical progression is "How would that work in a tart?"

I'd actually intended to write up a Waitrose chocolate tart (the seriously tautological 'Seriously Chocolatey Tarte au Chocolat'), but took so long to get my head together during one of my quiet, non-blogging patches that I'd basically forgotten what it was like. Consider this not just an alternative, but a home-made spin on the same theme.

This is much the same process as making truffles, but the quantities and proportions of ingredients were altered, basically by guesstimate. So, without further ado...

Ingredients:
  • 300g Dark Chocolate (I used 2 bars of Green & Blacks Organic Dark Cooks' Chocolate this time round, for convenience - 72% cocoa, "made with finest Trinitario cocoa beans with extra cocoa butter for easier melting", each bar made up of 30 5g pieces)
  • 90g Unsalted Butter
  • 80ml Runny Honey (the same Sainsbury's 'Light & Mild' Acacia as last time)
  • 3 Large Egg Yolks
  • Peppermint Extract (2 teaspoons, I used Star Kay White's Pure Peppermint Extract)
  • Waitrose Sweet Pastry Case
  • Cocoa Powder & Icing Sugar (optional, as decoration)
Preparation Time: About 10 minutes mixing, then just chill in refrigerator till serving time

Tools Required:
  • Microwave
  • Microwave-Safe Bowl
  • Jar Scraper or similar (for stirring and smoothing out the mixture in the pastry case)
  • Measuring Implements (cups, scales, etc.)
  • 2 Small Cups/Glasses (for separating the eggs)
The Process:
Break up the chocolate bars into the bowl, then blast in the microwave, set to medium, for 30 seconds at a time, mixing with the jar scraper each time. This Green & Black's chocolate melted far more easily than Willie's, thanks to that 'extra cocoa butter'. On this occasion, I also gave the butter some time in the microwave, which made it even easier to stir into the chocolate. In fact, I was able to dump the whole 90g into the chocolate in one hit, and it really didn't take long for the few remaining lumps to melt in.

Slightly more honey was used for this version of the mixture but, considering the Green & Black's cooking chocolate is sweeter than Willies in its raw form, this isn't strictly necessary... In fact, it's entirely possible you could do without. Make sure to stir it in thoroughly if you are using it.

Add the mint extract next. Being alcohol-based, the Star Kay White stuff I used here took a lot of stirring to mix in properly - it seemed to want to just stay on the surface of the mixture. In fact, all things considered, the addition of this particular mint extract is the only reason the mixture took as long as it did to prepare!

Finally, as with the truffle mixture, separate and add in 3 (slightly beaten) egg yolks. The mixture should begin to thicken up noticeably. When it's all mixed together thoroughly, pour it directly into the pastry case. If you're lucky, the quantities listed above will leave you with enough mixture for about 10 minty truffles, so refrigerate any leftovers right along with the tart.

For an extra finishing touch, mix up some cocoa powder and icing sugar to sprinkle over the tart. The remains can be mopped up by whatever truffles you make.

The Results:
Confession time: this is another recipe where the quantities I've given above have been adjusted as a result of my efforts. I used more honey and only two egg yolks and the result was OK, but not quite right. Certainly, I used far too much honey (100ml, just for the record) and that, coupled with the mint, reduced the impact of the flavour of the chocolate. It still tasted like mint chocolate, and the mint was actually quite subtle... but excess honey coupled with the lower cocoa content in the chocolate didn't do the finished product any favours. 80ml is only a third again more than the quantity used for the truffles, so it should offer a more balaced sweetness. I also only used 2 eggs, and immediately realised my mistake when the mixture didn't gain the same initial texture as my truffle mix. Based on the approximate proportions, I determined that one egg yolk is needed for every 100g of chocolate melted, hence 3 yolks for 2 bars worth of chocolate. I toyed with the idea of breaking and separating another egg when I made this, but didn't want to risk it so late in the process.

I would also add that Waitrose ready-made Sweet Pastry Case is probably a bit too thick, dry and biscuity for this tart. Something a bit more buttery and soft would have worked better... and having less of it would have been a bonus, too, because the ready-made case is actually quite a thick crust.

All that said, this turned out to be quite a pleasant minty-chocolatey dessert. My parents were the first to sample it, and gave a generally favourable review, though it was a little tough to cut straight from the fridge (furthermore, my father would have preferred it without any kind of pastry case, but that would have made it one whopping great truffle, rather than a tart). Considering how ridiculously easy this is to make, and the vast range of ready-flavoured Green & Black's chocolate on the market (why didn't I just buy their mint chocolate?), there are many variations on this theme to be tried and, while I am certain to try some of them in future, they may not get such a thorough write-up.
This is actually a rather more extensive coverage with cocoa/icing sugar than I'd originally intended but, after a couple of accidents where great clumps of the stuff fell onto the tart, I decided I'd just spread the stuff around, rather than even try to make it look 'natural'. In retrospect, I probably didn't need to mix icing sugar into this batch, because the tart itself turned out sweeter than I'd expected.

And, of course, the leftovers went to make these:
And very nice they were, too.

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