The coffee maker was quietly percolating away and one look outside told me the birds were having a killer breakfast of sunflower seeds. The pre-packaged suet brick was finally noticed by a curious woodpecker but he flew off after one taste. It reminded me of a small child having to finish their lima beans on the dinner plate. The birds around my yard are used to only the finest scraps of suet which our local butcher provides. So spoiled. I felt spoiled as well as I poured a cup of french roast coffee and glanced at the thermometer. It was above zero…that alone was cause for celebration. What could I make?
The ingredients were simple, yet decadent and I could not wait to try this recipe with my Sundays with Joy baking group. I checked in with my SWJ Family but something told me to wait a minute before I tackled the tart dough. I poured another cup of coffee, and waited for others to chime in with their experiences with the tart dough debacle. (Debacle? No. Aliteration, duh) Yes, I was eagerly researching similar tart dough recipes then sharing my two cents worth with the group – and yes, this might make me a big baking nerd. I am ok with that. I formulated my own plan as I eagerly stepped into the kitchen rolled up my sleeves, donned on a cute apron and got to work.
First up was the tart dough.
Nothing crazy here…just some butter hanging out with the usual suspects. A few outsiders, cinnamon and ginger, were allowed in the group. After all who wants just an ordinary tart shell? Live on this edge with me. Working quickly, I incorporated the butter into the dry ingredients using my hands. I worked this dough and remembered baking pies with Joy the Baker at King Arthur Flour. She had encouraged us to try out the ‘hand’ mixing technique and I have not used my pastry blender since. It is a whole body baking experience which I also encourage you to try. It will eventually look like this.
Here is where I deviated from the original plan. I used a whole egg versus the egg yolk called for. Mix it up and turn into a tart pan.
Using your hands press the dough into the bottom and the sides of the pan. Dots of butter will magically reappear.
Because I feel totally exposed at letting you see my messy counters I will show you my ‘fancy’ shot for this.
This gets chilled in the freezer for an hour. This helps with shrinking crust problems and it works!
While this is chilling a dark chocolate ganache is made. Chop up some chocolate.
The recipe called for 1 1/4 cup heavy cream to 8 oz. of dark chocolate. I used two types of chocolate: 4 oz of unsweetened 100% cacao, finely chopped (and totally bitter) and 4 oz of dark chocolate chips (not as bitter). I was unclear whether I should have used all of the unsweetened bar or not. In my mind ganache is slightly bitter – but probably not that bitter. I knew I was going to add sweetened cream and fruit to the top. My baking intuition (and Yankee Ingenuity) told me to add a tablespoon of sugar to the simmering cream mixture to help counter the 4 oz of bittersweet chocolate. This move was well played on my part!
Onward with the ganache. When the cream reached a low simmer, I poured half over the chopped chocolate mixture that was patiently waiting in a bowl. I let it hang out for a minute then slowly whisked it up. No problems there. Adding in the rest of the cream the mixture was carefully whisked together. I ditched the whisk, grabbed a spatula and worked in the bits of butter. I would describe this ganache as dark, sexy and shining bright (like a diamond?). Another concern from my SWJ group was the ganache not setting up enough. The consistency, at this point, was slightly thick. But I knew that it had to cool, at room temperature, until the tart shell was completely cool. That was a few hours. I poured the ganache into a different bowl and just let it be.
The tart shell gets baked at 350* for 20 minutes. A piece of buttered foil gets pressed into the dough (goodbye pie weights!) for the first part of baking. The foil is removed and the tart shell finishes baking for about 15 minutes. The result?
No shrinking crust and, though the dough puffed up slightly, once it cooled it was ok.
Next up introducing the ganache to the tart crust.
What happened to this slice?
I was excited, I got carried away and…oops. Taste testing a recipe is the best! The ganache was slightly soft…which I prefer. I topped it with some sweetened heavy cream with powdered sugar and blood orange zest. Next time I think I would add some orange zest to the crust. The shortbread crust was delicately spiced with cinnamon and ginger that paired well with the dark chocolate ganache and zested cream. I had strawberries and blueberries to top this with. But I opted for a blood orange with some blueberries instead. Dark chocolate and orange? Yes, please! Maybe you would like to woo someone with your crazy baking skills? Maybe you need to bring a fancy dessert to a dinner party? Isn’t there a day of love celebration approaching? This recipe is one you need for your files!
You can find this recipe in the Joy the Baker cookbook.
Have a great week and thanks for reading!