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Author Notes: This divine recipe came to mind one night just before falling asleep while in that place between wakefulness and slumber. And it all started.....
....when I was in Portland for the 2010 IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference. I had one of the most incredible food experiences of my life....a true hot chocolate, or drinking chocolate at Cacao, a tiny chocolate shop on SW 13th Avenue near Burnside Street. Hot chocolate is bittersweet chocolate melted in warm cream. Imagine drinking your chocolate bar warmed into rich cream....liquid chocolate in a cup!
I was traveling with my friend and colleague, Orsola, who grew up in Italy and now lives in Moscow (long story....I'll have to tell you at another time). I had never had a true hot chocolate, which is definitely a very heady, sexy, purely adult beverage. (Bye bye hot cocoa! That's kids' stuff compared to this!) When we entered I was intoxicated by the deep rich chocolate notes in the air and I literally swooned as I made my way to the counter. Orsola ordered a demitasse and I ordered a full cup. I thought I'd go for the full monty since this was my first experience with this exciting brew. "Are you sure you want a whole cup?" my companion asked. "Sure, why not?" I chimed. She raised an eyebrow, "It's very, very rich." I figured what-the-hell, this was my first experience with drinking chocolate and I wanted it to be memorable.
OMG! My first sip far surpassed any bliss I had ever experienced in my 56 years on this planet.....luscious, complex, mind blowing, extreme, exotic, sensual, ambrosial, thick, creamy, liquid chocolate. I ordered mine with hot spice. I'm not exactly sure what spices they used, but they pleasantly bit the back of the throat after my mouth was saturated with creamy bittersweetness.
I now understand why the Aztec Emperor Montezuma (1485-1520) drank his spiced chocolate, "chocolatl", from a golden goblet. The beverage is truly worthy of such a vessel. History has it that he imbibed this divine beverage before entering his harem. Hmmm....that's something to think about....If his beverage was anything like the one I had, he was probably so blissed out that he lived in a chocolate-induced stupor.
And Orsola was right, it would have been impossible for me to drink the entire cup in one sitting, not for lack of its godly delights, but because it was so warm, rich, creamy, and exciting that I wanted the experience to last all day. I took over half of it with me so I could take tiny sips all afternoon, never wanting the pleasure to end. I know what you're thinking, "God, what a hedonist!" My response is, "Wait, just wait until you try it....you'll come to understand." And thus my inspiration for this bittersweet chocolate tart with adobo and chipotle was born.
I felt my tart needed a toasty crust with a hint of salt to compliment the chocolate. Several years ago I became enamored with David Lebovitz's recipe for the French pastry dough he learned to make from Paule Caillat, the Parisian cooking instructor at Promendes Gourmandes. Rather than taking cold butter and cutting it into the flour, she browns the butter with sugar and while it is still warm, adds the flour.
I had my concept for the crust and the chocolate, but I felt something was missing. Nuts...? No. Cinnamon... No. Orange! There's a dreamy comforting quality when oranges are combined with dark chocolate. Those two flavors feel like they somehow belong together, perhaps because they both play upon the counterpoint between sweet and bitter, so I melted some Grand Mariner in bittersweet chocolate and painted the bottom of the crust before filling it, and topped each serving with a chocoloate-dipped orange slice.
Alas! my tart is born! But what to call it.....Dark Spiced Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Crust and a Hint of Orange....way too long.....that won't do, so I decided to try naming it after those who inspired the recipe....David, Paule, Cacao, and Montezuma's Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Orange, Salt, and Spice....sounds ridiculous...so how about naming it after the Emperor that had a love affair with spiced chocolate?.....Montezuma's Spiced Chocolate Tart.....ahhh, forget it. It really doesn't matter what you call it. The complexity and richness of the combined flavors make it divine! Enjoy my Aztec Bittersweet Chocolate Tart....or whatever you decide to call it....slowly. Just close your eyes and let the flavors dance and play in your mouth.
The tart pastry is adapted from David Lebovitz's "French Pastry Dough" recipe. The chocolate tart filling is adapted from Tyler Florence's "Chocolate Tart". The inspiration came from my experience drinking the fabulous hot chocolate at Cacao in Portland.
Browned Butter Pastry with Chocolate Lining
- FOR THE PASTRY:
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 scant teaspoons flake salt such as fleur de sel
- 1 1/2 cups + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE LINING:
- 1/3 cup good bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Baking Chunks with 70% Cacao)
- 2 tablespoons Grand Mariner (optional)
- FOR THE BROWNED BUTTER PASTRY: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients except flour. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes until butter begins to brown and develops a nutty scent. Remove from heat and immediately add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together into a ball. If the mixture seems too dry, add water by the teaspoonful as needed. Put dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Let cool 5-10 minutes until cool enough to handle. Press the mixture into the tart pan and up the sides. Use your fingers to press the dough evenly around the sides into all the crevices of the tart pan. Prick the bottom several times with a fork. Place tart pan on a sheet pan and make a collar from aluminum foil and place it around the edge of the tart pan to protect the edges from getting too dark. Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Do not over brown the crust as you will be baking it again when filled. When very lightly golden, remove from oven and let cool completely. Leave the tart pan on the sheet pan as you will be baking it when filled.
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE LINING: (This is an optional step that you can skip if you're pressed for time.) In a double boiler over medium low heat, melt the chocolate. When it is fully melted add the Grand Mariner and mix vigorously until blended. Remove from heat and paint the bottom and sides of the cooled tart shell with the chocolate mixture. NOTE: The Grand Mariner can be omitted if you choose not to use alcohol.
Bittersweet Chocolate Filling and Chocolate Dipped Orange Peel for Garnish
- FOR THE BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE FILLING:
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 9 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, chopped (This is approximately 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons of Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Baking Chunks)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon flake salt such as fleur de sel
- 2 large room temperature eggs, beaten
- 1/4 to 3/8 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- 3/8 teaspoon adobo chili powder
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE-DIPPED ORANGE RIND:
- 1/4 cup good bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Baking Chunks with 70% Cacao)
- 1 large navel orange
- FOR THE BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE FILLING: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Warm the half and half in a saucepan over medium-low heat until bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan. Remove pan from heat and whisk in chocolate until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Add the sugar and salt and mix well. Add the chipotle in tiny increments, stir well, and taste. Because the heat of the chipotle can vary greatly depending on freshness, brand, and storage of the spice, use caution, and taste after each addition. Keep in mind that the heat seems to intensify after baking. Add the adobo chili in 1/8 teaspoon increments, as above always stopping to taste. (Adobo, made from poblano chilis, is much milder than chipotle which is made from smoked jalapenos.) With the tart pan still on the sheet pan, pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell and use the aluminum foil collar you made earlier around the edge of the tart. Put in preheated oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after the first 30 minutes. If you see any bubbles or cracks in the chocolate, remove from oven immediately to avoid over baking. When done, remove from oven and let cool completely.
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE-DIPPED ORANGE RIND: Using a channel knife, cut 16 slices of orange rind, each the length of half the orange. Boil the rinds for one minute in small pot of boiling water, drain, rinse in cold water, and repeat. Set rinds out on paper towels to dry. In a double boiler over medium low heat, melt the chocolate. Dip each orange rind into the chocolate, leaving the top third undipped. Place on waxed paper until chocolate is hardened. Before serving, garnish each slice with a tablespoon of mascapone cheese topped with one or two slivers of rind.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Late Winter Tart (Sweet or Savory)