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.