Funny story: I decided to take a well-loved recipe for a chocolate tart and update it for Mike's birthday by filling the shell with pretzels before pouring the chocolate in. While planning said tart, I started to have a nagging feeling that something was wrong. Hadn't Mike said something before about not liking chocolate covered pretzels? Uh-oh.
Trying not to ruin the surprise, I nonchalantly brought up chocolate and pretzel combos on the phone with him while baking (try casually working chocolate and pretzels into a conversation -- difficult!) "Did you say once you didn't like chocolate covered pretzels?" I asked. His reply? "I don't know. I don't really like pretzels, period." I stared at my pretzel-filled tart crust. "Oh."
Well, it isn't the first time I've boldly gone where Mike's tastebuds hadn't gone before. Or didn't think they wanted to go. For instance, Mike thought he didn't like lemon until he had Lemon Burst Fairycakes. He also thought he didn't like plums until he took his first bite of Plum and Cream Mini-Tortes. And then there's pumpkin, which he realized he enjoyed thanks to Jack-o'-Lantern Whoopie Pies (no comment on the recent pumpkin ravioli disaster that may have him reverting back to pumpkin hatred).
But this is the first time I pushed his taste boundaries on his birthday. On his freakin' birthday! You know, the day when you're supposed to make your boyfriend's FAVORITE dessert, not a dessert featuring a food he currently dislikes. Oops. Happy birthday, Mike, here's a tart filled with something you hate!
Thankfully, I reminded myself, I was making him two desserts. Surely if he didn't like this one, he'd like the other (stay tuned for a post on that dish later this week), right? So it wasn't so much of a gamble?
Turns out, I needn't have worried at all . . . because first off, you couldn't taste the pretzels! They got soft (should've seen that coming) and didn't add too much to the overall texture or flavor. I ended up putting some pretzels on my piece before serving to experience the salty-n-sweet combo I was looking for, and Mike abstained. Perfecto!
The tart had the same amazing, rich, deep chocolate flavor as last time I made it, except with a slight bitter edge from adding in some bittersweet chocolate. I love the taste of a complex, bittersweet chocolate with a sweet whipped cream.
So, this post isn't really a new recipe. It's more of a serving suggestion and a reminder of an amazing old recipe. Go make this fantastic tart and serve it with a handful of pretzels for a tasty salty-n-sweet combination! You could also top the tart with a layer of pretzels after baking and before adding the whipped cream topping. Enjoy!
Chocolate Tart with Pretzels
Recipe by: Adapted from Tyler Florence
Yields: one standard tart, serves about 10
Tart Shell Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and chopped
1 large egg, separated
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or use semisweet for the whole amount, if desired)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
salted pretzels for serving
Whipped Cream Topping Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the pastry: combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl (or food processor). Add the butter and mix with a processor or hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the middle of the pastry. Combine the egg yolk with the ice water in a small bowl, whisking to blend; pour it into the well and work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough is coming together but still in crumbs, pour the crumbs into your tart pan and press them out to fill the pan. Press them up the sides evenly and trim off any excess. Dock the dough (prick it slightly) with a fork all over. Put the tart shell in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to relax.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easy to move in and out of the oven. Line the tart with aluminum foil and add pie weights or dried beans to keep the sides of the tart from buckling. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and weights. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the crust with a beaten egg white. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 8 minutes until the tart is golden in color, but not brown. Remember the tart will be cooked again with the filling. It should be cooked but light in color so that it will not burn on the second bake. Set aside to cool and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
To make the filling: Heat the heavy cream and milk in a pot over medium-low flame, until it simmers slightly around the edges. Remove from the heat; add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smoothed out. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until well incorporated. Beat the eggs in a small bowl until blended and add them to the chocolate mixture, stir until completely blended. Pour the filling very carefully into the cooled tart shell. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 to 25 minutes until the filling is set (wiggle the pan to test) and the surface is glossy. If you see any bubbles or cracks forming on the surface, take the tart out right away - that means it is beginning to become over baked. Cool completely before topping with whipped cream. You can layer pretzels on before topping with whipped cream, or sprinkle them on top afterward.
To make the whipped cream, beat all ingredients together until cream thickens to correct consistency. Pile the mound of whipped cream onto your cooled tart and use a spatula to spread it (messy = more rustic). Shave some leftover chocolate over the cream for decoration.
PS - Stay tuned for Mike's birthday dessert number two!
PS 2 - There are also tarts out there with pretzel crusts if you wanted to go that route, but I wasn't willing to give up this buttery, amazing tart shell!