Not all tasty desserts need to be the product of some long, laborious production. This recipe is proof of that. It is the I-only-have-20-minutes dessert. It’s the OMG-I-have-gluten-free-guests dessert. It’s the holy-mackerel-I-need chocolate dessert.
I put together this tart for a simple Valentine’s Day dinner with my husband, because I was pressed for time that night and needed something quick. All the ingredients for the tart base—store-bought cookies, dates, hazelnuts—were in the cupboard. I had some chocolate and cream in my fridge, so I immediately thought ganache. I was insanely proud of myself. But after consuming an entire lobe of cheese and two helpings of pasta, my husband passed out. I, however, stayed up, eyed the tart flirtatiously, and ended up devouring 3 slices.
The sturdy crust draws its prominent flavor from the hazelnuts and chocolate cookies while the plump, sticky dates provide sweetness and bind together the dry crumbs. You can be pretty loose about the type of chocolate cookies you use. They should be dry and not wafery (i.e. no cream). You can use gluten-free cookies, Tate's, chocolate tea biscuits, or just a plain dry chocolate cookie.
The crust is made by combining the nuts, chocolate cookies, and sea salt in a food processor or blender. Once those ingredients are pulsed to crumbs, add the dates and pulse a few more times. Put the wet-looking dough into a fluted pan with a removable bottom, and press it down evenly. Into the freezer it goes, while you prep the other ingredients.
The ganache is made the standard way. Warm the cream in a small pot until bubbles form around the edges. Add the chocolate, wait a minute, and stir until glossy. Pour the ganache over the crust and gently smooth it out with an offset spatula or spoon. I use two kinds of chocolate here, milk and bittersweet. That’s all.
Then, you need to wait a little for the ganache to set. If you choose to make the tart ahead and refrigerate it, you’ll find the surface of the tart loses all that gorgeous glossiness it had when you first poured in the chocolate. Don’t fret, just take it out and let it hang out at room temperature for a few hours and the ganache will soften up and reclaim that delicate texture you want. If you have a crème brulée torch, you can even swiftly wave the flame over the tart to give it that sheen.
Just before serving, sprinkle a few hazelnut pieces and some flaky sea salt over top. I like Maldon best, but you could also try a crunchy sea salt like fleur de sel.
For the tart crust:
- 5 ounces thin chocolate cookies or biscuits (you can use shortbread, gluten-free cookies, Italian chocolate tea biscuits, or even salty chocolate cookies)
- 3 ounces toasted, peeled hazelnuts, plus more for garnish
- 10-12 pitted medjool dates
- 1 pinch sea salt
For the Chocolate Ganache:
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped or in chips
- 3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips
- 5 ounces heavy cream (150 ml)
- 1 pinch Maldon salt, for serving