Life is uncertain. Eat Dessert first.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

“There’s nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate” – Linda Grayson

Like so many regrettable decisions, this one seemed like a good idea at the time. Surrounded by selection boxes, tins of biscuits and assorted boxes of chocolates, with the remains of half a Christmas Cake still to be eaten, and an almost malevolent Chocolate Santa, goading us from under the tree with his chocolatey-goodness, the decision to stop buying cakes and biscuits from January 1st made perfect sense. “By the time we finish all this, we won’t WANT any more treats!” we mumbled between mouthfuls, wiping crumbs away from our faces, then tearing open the wrapper of another Curly-Wurly.

How naive. How terribly, terribly naive…

The get-out clause that, at home, we could only eat cakes and biscuits we made ourselves was a sensible, if ill-thought out, back-up plan. Because it’s a plan that requires restraint. So when I open the press and look for a packet of biscuits to eat with my mid-morning coffee, my natural reaction, upon finding the cupboard bare, should be to look a shelf lower, and take a handful of nuts and raisins instead.

And not, say, I don’t know,  to pick an example out of the sky, to spend the rest of the afternoon making a Chocolate Hazelnut Tart instead.

To whit, please find below a recipe for Nut and Rais … Chocolate Hazelnut Tart.

Another smashing recipe from Lorraine Pascale’s Baking Made Easy, which I seem to be slowly but surely working my way through. This double chocolate tart is really luscious, so caution is advised – small portions are the order of the day. Serve with slightly whipped cream sweetened with a couple of spoons of sieved icing sugar (and an obligatory cup of coffee).

INGREDIENTS – CHOCOLATE PASTRY

2 egg yolks

seeds of a vanilla pod or 2 drops of vanilla extract

100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar

100g (3 1/2oz) butter, softened

165g (5 1/2oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

40g (1 1/2oz) good cocoa powder

pinch of salt

INGREDIENTS – CHOCOLATE FILLING

100g (3 1/2oz) butter

100g (3 1/2oz) good (at least 60% cocoa solids or more) dark chocolate, grated

1 egg

2 egg yolks

130g (4 1/2oz) caster sugar

60g (2 1/2oz) plain flour

80g (3 oz) hazelnuts, chopped and toasted, plus a handful for sprinkling

EQUIPMENT

23cm (9″) loose-bottomed tart tin, about 3cm high

 

To make the pastry, put the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar in a bowl and mix together. Add the butter and mix briefly until well combined. Add the flour, cocoa powder and the salt and, using your hands, mix together to make a soft dough. Use as few strokes as possible to bring the mixture together and uniform. This way the pastry will remain crumbly and tender when cooked.

Scoop up the pastry with your hand and bring together to form a ball. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200degC (400F), Gas Mark 6.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Line the tart tin with the pastry. Take a small ball of pastry rolled in flour and use it to ease the pastry into the “corners” of the tart tin. Using a sharp knife, cut off the excess pastry around the top of the tin then run a small sharp knife around the edge between the pastry and the tin to loosen it slightly. This will make it much easier to unmould it once it is cooked. Any remaining dough can be used to make small biscuits or the dough can be wrapped up and frozen for up to a month. Place the tart tin in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Once the pastry is firm, remove it from the fridge. Take a piece of baking paper slightly larger then the tart tin and scrunch it up, then unscrunch it and place it in the tin. Fill the baking paper with baked beans or dried beans and blind bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry feels firm to the touch.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 160degC (315F), Gas Mark 2-3. Remove the baking beans and baking paper and leave to cool.

For the filling, melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat, add the grated chocolate and stir well to combine. While this is melting whisk the egg and yolks until they go really pale and frothy, then gradually add the sugar, whisking all the time until the mixture becomes even lighter and more fluffy. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, around the sides rather then the middle so the air, which has been whisked in, does not get knocked out. Fold everything together slowly and gently, keeping is as much air as possible. Fold in the flour and then gently fold in the toasted hazelnuts.

Spoon the mixture into the tart case and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. The top will be just set and the inside still gooey. If the edges of your pastry are going too dark, put foil over them to prevent further colouring.

Leave the tart to cool for 5 minutes. Use oven gloves to push the base to remove it from the tin, then run a palette knife underneath the tart to loosen if necessary. Sprinkle with a handful of hazelnuts before serving.

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