Tarte au Chocolat (from Ripailles, Reynaud 2008)

I was shamelessly distracted by a tarte au chocolat as I was having lunch with a friend in a London café.  While I tried to engage myself 100% in the conversation, it was in the corner of my eye, winking at me and whispering seductively “you want me, don’t you? you know you do“.  In my mind’s eye, I was reminded of the page of Ripailles that kept opening provocatively at me, that I would always catch as I flicked through, and which made my heart skip for a short moment every time.

I can’t sit still.  You would need to chloroform me and transport me by an armed guard escort to a spa, where I would have to be strapped down to endure a facial and massage and be forced to relax against my will.  So when I next found myself with a rare moment to relax, the urge to make my own tarte au chocolat was too overwhelming to deny.

Having so recently been a nervous pastry virgin, I already feel more confident in the techniques to use and textures I am aiming for.  (This recipe uses rich sweet shortcrust, or pâté sable.)  And since the filling is no more than melting and chilling, this is probably a great starter tarte for someone taking their first tentative steps into pastry.  Bon courage mon ami.

But I have a problem with Reynaud’s recipe, a problem I had with his recipe for canelé too.  Despite now having an oven thermometer so I know I’m reaching accurate temperatures, the pastry overcooked slightly, and I took it out early.  Maybe fan ovens are a mystery to the man, but I have adjusted for it below.

Slicing into the tart to reveal the layers of pastry, hazelnuts and velvety dark chocolate… the first mouthful, eyes closed; the surprise of the whisky releasing into creamy richness with a perfect balance between bitter and sweet.  Pure, indulgent, devilish pleasure.

Men: this is easy enough for you to make for Valentine’s Day.  And you should, because chocolate is the rohypnol of foods.  It contains phenyl-ethylamine which stimulates a woman’s brain to feel pleasure, tryptophan which produces serotonin in the brain and makes us feel elated, and anandamide which can produce feelings of euphoria and heightened sensitivity.  Some studies have shown that between 40% and 70%(!) of women actually prefer chocolate to sex.  So make the tarte and at least you’ll have all bases covered, not to mention you’ll look sexy and sensitive making a chocolate dessert for her, whatever naughty ulterior motive lies behind it.  Don’t say I don’t do anything for you.

Seductive.

Seductive.

Need This

250g plain flour / 50g ground almonds / 195g butter / 70g caster sugar / 1 egg / 50g chopped hazelnuts / 150g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa) / 250ml pouring or double cream / 20ml whisky

Do This

Soften 125g butter / Mix with sugar and almonds / Add sifted flour bit by bit / Add egg (& a little water if necessary) for a smooth pastry dough / Chill for 1 hour / Roll out and line tart tin and cut off overhang (use for repairs where it might have stretched too thin) / Scatter hazelnuts over base / 160°C fan oven 30 mins / In bowl over pan of boiling water, melt chocolate, 70g butter, cream & whisky – mix well / Pour into pastry base / Fridge to chill & set

Baked pastry base (a bit overdone).

Baked pastry base (a bit overdone).