So I accomplished most of the things on that list I posted last week, except for the bit about the one-night getaway, which we had to cancel owing to one of my dog’s teeth falling out and an emergency vet visit and scheduling a $1,000 dental surgery. HOWEVER. That is a post for another day because I want to tell you about THE TART.
(If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you are likely sick of hearing about it already, TOO BAD.)
I don’t really like pumpkin pie and I have never made one. In fact for the last several years I have refused (politely) to eat it. I don’t think Thanksgiving has to be fobbed off as the pumpkin pie holiday or even a pie holiday at all, I think you should make what you like and what your guests will like. I’m a big fan of apple pie in general but the other typical post-Thanksgiving choices—pumpkin pie and pecan pie—have just never really done much for me.
So when I found this recipe on Ambrosia, one of the baking blogs I follow, I duly Pinterest’d it for later use. It has appeared on other baking sites and appears to have originated on Saveur‘s site but the Ambrosia recipe was fine and easy to follow. The only change I made was using dark chocolate cocoa for the crust. For the chopped dark chocolate called for in the ganache, I used Whole Foods’ house brand of mini dark chocolate chunks (no chopping required and price-wise quite the bargain over bars of chocolate, though you don’t need a ton).
For something so elegant-looking the tart is relatively easy to make. You need a tart pan although I suppose a springform would do. The only thing I screwed up was the timing. As the recipe is written, the tart is very time-consuming to make. I will admit that I cheated at several points in the process; for instance, instead of refrigerating the shell I popped it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. I only let the caramel set for about two hours (Ambroisa calls for three and Saveur calls for a patently ridiculous four to five) before pouring the ganache on top and it was fine. All fine. I did let the tart chill overnight and then most of the next day until I brought it out about an hour before dinner.
I pressed the dough for the shell into the tart pan with my fingers and then finished it up with the flat bottom of a pint glass. I also rolled the glass along the side of the pan to push the dough into the crimps and force it farther up the side of the pan. This technique made it super easy to get the edges very even and uniform.
Waiting for the caramel made me very impatient because it was not deep enough to accommodate my candy thermometer, so I had to guesstimate based on the color. This sounds easy (and it is) but I have taken plenty of batches of caramel off the heat too early and while it tastes fine, it doesn’t taste how I want it to. I very nearly burnt this batch but I got it off the heat in time and it was quite good.
After the caramel chilled for a couple of hours I prepared the ganache, and I very much like heating the cream and then pouring it over the chocolate as opposed to fooling with the whole double-boiler mess. I did scald the first batch of cream that I tried to heat up but that’s because I wasn’t paying attention.
Here it is with the flaked sea salt on top. In retrospect I did the salt a little too early, you want to do it right before you serve. Otherwise the salt gets absorbed into the chocolate as it comes to room temperature, and while it still tastes grand it looks kind of ugly. So don’t do that.
It was so very, very delicious. In the Ambrosia post the author says the tart was too rich for anyone to finish a slice but I didn’t have that problem. I cut small slices and they were fine. We finished what was left of it the next night and everyone went home happy.
So to sum up: easy (and impressive looking!), but time consuming. If you want something you just mix up and toss in the oven, I recommend my grandmother’s pound cake.