Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Meringue
August 18, 2011 § 2 Comments
It could be nostalgia, but to me, meringues are freakishly magical. Picture this:
Everyone finishes dinner & you jump up quickly to fetch your chocolate tart from the counter. You scurry back to the table & plop down what looks like a blob of chocolate inside of a crunchy brown shell. Hey guys look, I made dessert. Hope you saved room! No one complains because hey, everyone would rather have some chocolate than none at all, but to be frank, your chocolate tart closely resembles those small graham cracker pudding pies from a box.
Now let me introduce you to the magic: sugar & egg whites. Again, picture this:
Everyone finishes dinner & you jump up quickly to fetch your chocolate tart from the counter. You scurry back to the table & set down what looks like a perfectly bronzed marshmallow perched upon a golden brown tart shell that is filled with a smooth chocolate ganache. Hey guys look, I made dessert. Hope you saved room! Fireworks explode & your guests rise to their feet applauding graciously.
Serving a pie, tart, or ice cream that has been crowned with a meringue is not only delicious, but it looks rather other-worldly.
Despite it’s slightly sophisticated appearance, this tart is extremely practical. All of the ingredients I used, I already had in the house. The crust is made from graham crackers, which is quick & yields great flavor if you choose a good quality cracker. Also, using graham crackers as a tart crust is an easy way to make a dessert gluten free, just go to your local health food store & request the tastiest gluten-free grahams they have.
When making the chocolate ganache, don’t panic if you do not have heavy cream, substitutions can be made. I have used half & half with butter & gotten the exact same results as the original recipe. One substitution you should not make is replacing dark chocolate with milk chocolate. Every element of this tart is sweet to begin with so the bitter dark chocolate is a welcome way to cut the saccharine flavor & add a bit of antioxidants (kidding, we are eating dessert after all).
Making the caramel does require a bit of confidence, but if you pay attention, turn up the heat & make sure to let the sugar brown, this crunchy layer adds something special to the tart.
14 whole graham crackers, 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar*, 3 Tbsp melted organic butter, 1 large egg yoke, pinch coarse sea salt
*light/dark brown sugar or turbinado sugar work as well.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the bottom & sides of a 8 1/2″ round by 1 1/2″ deep fluted tart pan, spring form pan, or shallow pie dish (measurements can vary slightly just be sure to cover the pan with the crumb evenly). Process graham crackers in a food processor. Add sugar, melted butter & salt. Process until the crumbs begin to clump together. To test the crumbs, take a small handful & gently squeeze it. If they stay stuck together they are ready, if not, continue to process. Spread crumbs, pressing gently, to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Be sure to work the crumbs up the sides of the pan evenly. Bake for 10 minutes. When finished baking, let cool for 10 minutes.
250 grams 60-65% cocoa, dark chocolate, chopped, 1 cup of organic heavy cream*, 1 tsp vanilla alcohol-free flavoring
* If you do not have heavy cream, use 1 cup of half & half with 2 Tbsp of melted butter.
In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, warm the cream for 5 minutes while mixing constantly. Once warm, add chopped chocolate & continue to mix until the texture is smooth. Add vanilla extract & mix until it is evenly distributed. Pour the ganache into the tart crust & place it directly in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until ready to top with the salted caramel.
3/4 cup of white sugar, 1 Tbsp organic butter, pinch of coarse sea salt
In a light saute pan or skillet heat sugar until it begins to melt & brown. This will happen at about 285-295 degrees Fahrenheit (you can measure the temperature with a candy thermometer, but it is certainly not necessary). Once the melted sugar begins to give off a caramel-like fragrance add the butter & salt. Continue to heat while quickly, but gently mixing the with fork. Once browned, (working quickly) pour the salted caramel over the top of the chocolate ganache so that the ganache is almost completely covered. Refrigerate until meringue is ready. After refrigeration there may be some separation of the butter from the caramel, if so, gently blot it with a paper towel
3/4 cup of white sugar, 3 large egg whites
Preheat broiler to high. Combine sugar & eggs in a medium mixing bowl & whip using an electric mixer. Whip until medium peaks form & the mixture stiffens up. Once it is stiff, spoon the meringue onto the caramel layer starting at the center & working your way out to the edges. Leave a small border of caramel (or ganache) uncovered around the perimeter. (You may have some extra meringue leftover, it can be refrigerated for 2 days & used in various other ways) Smooth out the meringue with a cake spatula or spoon & broil until lightly bronzed. Be sure to check the meringue every 30 seconds until it browns. **Browning should not take more than 1 minute & should be done right before serving.