Christmas is well and truly upon us. If, like me, dried fruit based desserts leave you uninspired, try this gem of a dessert. This one is perfect for a special occasion; it looks impressive, packs a real punch in the flavour department and although making it is time consuming, it isn’t a difficult thing to bake. I did get a bit of pastry shrinkage with this recipe, but I mixed mine by hand and I’m sure this won’t happen as much if you made it using a food processor. When making this you need to allow time for your pastry to chill in the fridge and allow time later for the chocolate to set. If you’re going to make the effort with a dessert like this, really take the time to let things rest and set properly. The other benefit is that you will enjoy making this far more if you’re not running around the kitchen in a flap, up to your elbows in melted chocolate.
I made this as an early birthday dessert for my housemate A. Her birthday is boxing day so I wanted to treat her to a special dessert and I knew she would adore this. (I was right, I got a big hug and a kiss when I produced this!)
To make this tart you will need
For the pastry
75g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
250g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
For the ganache
200g good quality dark chocolate (I used a mixture of 70% and 85%)
200ml double cream
200g caster sugar or light brown sugar if you prefer
5g sea salt
For the hazelnut topping
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
To make the pastry cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks and the water and mix well.
Gradually add the flour and cocoa powder until all the ingredients are bound together. This step is way easier using a food processor but it is possible to do this by hand.
Wrap in a plastic bag and allow to chill in the fridge for at least and hour, if not longer.
Roll your pastry out onto a floured surface and use it to line a loose bottomed tin that is about 24cm in diameter and at least 2.5cm thick. Allow your pastry to rest for 15 minutes in the fridge before trimming it. Patch any bald patches in your tin with excess pastry. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Before baking prick your pastry with a fork.
Line your tin with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for another 6 minutes.
While your pastry is baking make your ganache by melting together your cream, sugar, chocolate and sea salt in a heatproof bowl over a boiling pan. Usually I’m a great advocate of zapping stuff like this in a microwave, but its best to keep an eye on ganache.
Melt together until thick and glossy.
Pour into your pastry and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
To make the topping warm a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add your sugar and melt together until golden brown. Add the salt and mix well before taking off the heat and adding the hazelnuts. Mix thoroughly. Lay over a piece of greaseproof paper to cool. Once cool separate the nuts by smashing them.
Top the tart with your hazelnuts. Serve.
Candles and a beautiful rendition of “Happy Birthday” or “Santa Clause is coming to town” entirely optional.