Chocolate-Crust Tart Shell

Foundation recipes, Pies and Tarts

Yield: One 9-inch tart shell
Recipe: 5/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 118

   After the classic apple pie and the classic fruit flan, I wanted to do a recipe that was undoubtedly made for me: the milk chocolate silk tart! As mentioned in a previous post, I never really liked tarts (or so I thought!) and so never baked any until now. Being a huge fan of chocolate, I figured that if there was one tart to convert me it would be this one. First, though, I had to make the tart shell! This chocolate-crust tart shell was not only easy to make, but it was very tasty. The delicious chocolate taste was undeniable, but as mentioned in Anna’s cookbook, it does not overpower the filling of the tart. Albeit I baked the tart shell a couple of minutes too long and the crust was a bit harder than I would have liked, this recipe was a definite success and I will surely use it time and time again. It’s a classic!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (90 mL) unsalted butter, cool and cut into pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa, brown sugar and salt.
  2. Add the butter and blend with a food processor or mixer (hand or standup) until the mixture is a homogenous, crumbly texture.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture, blending until the dough comes together. With lightly floured hands, shaped the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or until firm.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, gently knead the chilled chocolate dough to soften it. Roll out the dough into a circle of about 12 inches across and 1/4 inch thick. Carefully line a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan with the chocolate dough. Trim away any excess and chill the tart shell in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Placed the chilled tart shell on a baking tray and dock the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Bake the tart shell for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry has an even, dull appearance. Cool the shell while preparing the filling.

Notes from Anna:

  • Fill the pie shell soon after baking because it is fragile when not filled.
  • The shell can be chilled for 3 days or frozen for 3 months prior to baking.
  • It is essential to dock the shell with a fork (i.e. make holes in the pastry at regular intervals using a fork) to allow for any air to escape through the holes so that there is no formation of a dome in the middle of the crust.
  • Trimming the edges of the crust is most easily accomplished by rolling the rolling pin along the top of the tart pan.

Valerie

Sweet-Crust Tart Shell

Foundation recipes, Pies and Tarts

Yield: One 9-inch tart shell
Recipe: 3/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 104

   The next recipe on my to-do list was the classic fruit flan. Inevitably, to do so I first had to make the sweet-crust tart shell required. Probably due to the fact that the first pie dough I made (the Double-Crust Pie Dough) was very easy to do and turned out beautifully, I assumed that this time would be just as easy. I don’t know if it is because I was pressed for time and did not wait as long as I could have between the various steps, but I had quite some difficulties with this dough. The dough did however come together well and I had no problems shaping it into a disk to chill.

   Problems arose when I decided to just wait the suggested 2 hours to let the dough firm up. It was late at night and I was trying to finish this tart shell as fast as possible so that I could bake the tart. I knew that the dough was not quite firm enough when I took it out of the fridge, but as I mentioned I was pressed for time so I kneaded it and rolled it anyways. What a terrible decision. When I was kneading it the dough was cracking and not holding its form. I moved along anyway and managed to roll it as thin as necessary. The main problem occurred when I lifted the dough to line the tart pan. The pastry dough was tearing at many places and was falling to pieces. I somehow managed to mould the dough into the tart pan and fit pieces that were cracking or tearing here and there. At this point I had to chill the tart shell in the fridge or in the freezer. Being on the express lane I opted for the freezer method with a shorter waiting period. I docked the shell and baked it for 18 minutes. When I took it out of the oven, the pastry dough had formed a big dome in the middle of the pan and was uneven in many places! I guess I am not used to docking pie and tart shells, because that should have prevented the doming effect I observed. I think  my mistake was that I put the tart shell in the freezer to chill, so the dough was a bit harder than it was initially. Hence, I probably did not press hard enough with my fork, thus not actually forming holes in the dough and consequently leading to the undesired dome. Fortunately, I managed to fix the situation by pressing down gently on the elevated dough and then waiting before filling it.

   Albeit I came across many problems while attempting to do this recipe, I realize that it was my own fault. I have learned a valuable lesson with this recipe: do not rush baking! Disaster will ensue. Notwithstanding the various problems that occurred, in the end the tart shell came out great and tasted very good. It has a characteristic sweet taste required for some desserts but is not too overly sweet. I will undoubtedly try this recipe again, making sure to take my time. Up next: the classic fruit flan!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in the egg yolks and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour and salt and combine with a stand or hand mixer until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, until firm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, knead the pastry dough lightly to soften it enough so that it can be rolled. Dust the dough with some flour and roll it out to about 11 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch in thickness. Line a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with the rolled dough. Chill the pastry for 20 minutes in the fridge or 10 minutes in the freezer.
  5. Place the chilled tart pan on a baking tray. Dock the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork and bake the pastry for 16-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Cool completely before filling.

Notes from Anna:

  • Fill the pie shell soon after baking because it is fragile when not filled.
  • The shell can be chilled for 3 days or frozen for 3 months prior to baking.
  • It is essential to dock the shell with a fork (i.e. make holes in the pastry at regular intervals using a fork) to allow for any air to escape through the holes so that there is no formation of a dome in the middle of the crust.
  • Trimming the edges of the crust is most easily accomplished by rolling the rolling pin along the top of the tart pan.

Valerie