nailing a tart

It’s about bloody time I finally did a tart justice- -I wanted pastry perfection- well at least something close to that.

A few weeks ago I was flicking thought my gourmet traveller magazine and landed on a delightful chocolate ganache tart recipe- making tasty yummy noises out loud Monkey asked me what I was looking at.  After relaying what it was and seeing his reaction I promised him I’d make it for him over Easter.  So not worried about the ganache filling (it’s all patience) but I wasn’t so sure about nailing the tart- short crust pastry to be exact.

My previous experience with pastry shells have been mixed- shrinking pastry, cracked pastry, undercooked and leaking pastry, overcooked pastry making for a tough eating experience etc etc so whist excited about the choclately goodness that lay ahead I had some mixed emotions about what this goodness would be encased in.

I had a few things to be made that day so I mixed up the dough first.  Generally when making a shortcrust recipe I blitz up the flour and butter in the food processor- however the recipe specifically said minimal handling so I rubbed the butter into the flour and sugar by hand- didn’t take as long as I thought so wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be- end result fine looking breadcrumbs…

Then it was just a matter of mixing in the beaten egg and bringing the dough together- and guess what? It came together easily and beautifully- winning so far.  Then press into a disc shape (makes for easier rolling out into a circle shape) and then into the fridge to relax and chill.

Sufficiently chilled I started to roll out the dough… yeah that wasn’t a great start.  Roll roll roll flip.  Dust with flour… flip again….. then the edges started cracking and swear words began to emerge.  I stopped and took a breath and gathered up the cracks, mended them and rolled out a little slower- the cracks still kept bloody coming but I persevered until the dough was wide enough for the tart tin.

Next challenge- despite my flipping and flouring the dough it was a little delicate to pick up and place in the tin…. How to overcome?  Listen to every single pastry recipe (that I had never listened to) and roll the dough up over the rolling pin and roll back out over the tart tin- worked like a bloody charm!!!! Doing that trick again!  Press into the corners of the tin, smooth out the dough, trim the edges (not too much) and then prick the base with a fork.  The recipe said to chill for about 30 minutes but because I had other stuff happening i the kitchen I left it for an hour or two- given the butter content in the dough this well and truly set which is why I think it didn’t shrink too much. Winning!

Because it was a liquidy filling it needed to be blind baked beforehand.  Blind baking involves popping a lining over the top of the dough and weighting it down and baking for a while- then removing all of that and baking it au naturele for a little longer until lightly golden. This leaves you with a tart case that will stop liquid seeping through the crust while the filling sets.

Tart shell with weights in…

Tart shell once baked…

Isn’t it pretty?  This was then filled with a chocolate ganache mixture and baked until just set- with preferably a slight wobble in the middle. As a side topper white chocolate was melted and then mixed with cream and then whipped- a whole new world opened up to me tasting this- so bloody good I forgot how nice white choclate could be.

What was the end result?  Nice short crisp pastry (it stayed intact and didn’t shatter when sliced!) with a delightfully cool soft chocolates ganache centre- I bloody well nailed a tart for once!

So why did this one not fail???

I think it was because of a few reasons…

This pastry recipe measured everything in grams- even the eggs.  This meant precision and to be honest with baking you need to be precise. 

Secondly I think doing the pastry by hand meant it wasn’t overworked and therefore tough.

Lastly I think the long spell of the pastry in the tin in the fridge meant it was properly chilled which meant less shrinkage in pan which meant more room for the filling and less chance of spillage.

It of course does also help that the filling was this delightful dark chocolate ganache and was topped with a white chocolate cream…

Pastry can be a fickle beast so if you’re looking for something that you’ve not tried to make before maybe try a cake… just not a sponge.

But do try your hand at tarts- they really are something else. Like anything it can take a few goes and a few lessons to be learnt along the way.  End result?  Always delicious tart in one form or another!