Chocolate Tart

It’s December already. I feel like it was yesterday I was setting up my classroom for the beginning of the school year…preparing myself for a whole new set of students, a whole new set of stories, and feeling just slightly more ready than I was last year. It’s an odd feeling to know that in two weeks it will be holiday break, and I’ll be starting a brand new semester after that. 

It’s also mildly unsettling how much grading needs to get done between now and then. But why think of that? 

Instead, I’m going to think about smelling the roses. It’s something my mother always says, that it’s important to stop and smell the roses. It’s something I thought about today. We move through life so fast, constantly trying to figure out what’s next, always looking to see how we can get better, or what we can do to move higher in our career paths, that we lose sight of the small things going on around us. 

The perfect spot on your partner’s shoulder where your head fits (almost) perfectly. 

The pretty winter lights that are up, with the laughing Santa’s and little elves that move in an awkwardly mechanical but nonetheless cute way. 

The rain smell that mixes with garbage, dirt, asphalt, and car exhaust to somehow be pleasant. 

Anyways, all these things are small, but things I noticed today that I hadn’t taken the time to fully noticed before (although the rain thing was probably because it’s been a painful low-rain year in Texas). This isn’t an argument for mediocrity, it’s important to always have one eye set to the future, but the other eye should be set to the present–to remind you that there is a now, and that it’s important to enjoy it, because you never know what actually will happen next. 

And what better way to enjoy the present with a Chocolate Tart? No seriously. There isn’t. I got this recipe from David Lebovitz, an amazing food blogger, cookbook author, and generally interesting guy. 

The crust is cookie-like, but not too sweet or overpowering, and pairs very well with the chocolate filling. 

The filling though…oh wow, it’s amazing. You start off with caramelized sugar, add chocolate, eggs, butter, flour, and salt to that, and you have something beautiful. Not just delicious, but beautiful. 

Don’t get scared by the sugar caramelizing part, it’s easy. Seriously, it’s not hard. Just be careful, sugar gets REALLY hot when you cook it, so make sure you don’t touch it, and you’re careful not to get it on your finger by accident (like me…). 

Chocolate Tart
modified from David Lebovitz

French Tart Crust

3 oz. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
5 oz or 1 cup of all purpose flour. 

Preheat oven to 410 degrees 

In a pyrex bowl, combine butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt. Put them into the oven in the bowl for about 10 minutes, or until the butter is completely melted and turning slightly brown on the sides. 

Pull out carefully, and add the flour to the bowl, and stir immediately until the dough comes together. When it does, dump it out into a tart shell or 9-in pie tin. I used a pie tin. 

The dough will be warm, and feel very buttery, that’s okay, that’s normal. Just push it out and spread it into your tin, reserving a small portion of the dough to cover up any holes or tears that might form. Put it in the oven and bake it for 10 minutes. 

When it’s done, pull it out and let it cool before filling it. 

Chocolate Filling
1.25 cups sugar
6 tsp. warm coffee or 1 shot espresso
4 oz. unsalted butter (1 stick)
pinch of salt
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate**
2 large eggs
0.25 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract

**You can use any mixture of 6oz of bittersweet to unsweetened chocolate depending on how sweet you like things. I only had bittersweet chocolate on hand, so it’s what I used, but you can use 3 oz. bittersweet, and 3 oz. unsweetened. Just whatever you do, use a high quality chocolate (I used ghirardelli)…it really makes a difference. 

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a heavy, metal saucepan or a dutch oven, or a cast iron saucepan, spread all the sugar evenly over the bottom and heat it over medium heat. 

Within 2-3 minutes, the bottom layer of sugar will start to melt, you can start to mix in the sugar from the top. You will have to do this for about 5-6 minutes until all the sugar is completely melted and starts to smoke a little (there should be no burning smell). 

When this happens, turn the stove off and mix in your coffee. The pan will sizzle, and smoke, so be sure to look away. Stir in the coffee completely, then add in the butter and salt. If the sugar is starting to get hard, no problem, just heat it over low heat until it melts and is easy to stir again. 

Then add in the chocolate and mix it in until completely incorporated. After that, add in the two eggs, and stir until completely incorporated, and then add in the flour and vanilla, and again mix until incorporated. 

When it’s done, carefully pour it into your tart/pie shell. 

Put it in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes…the center should still be jiggly when you take it out. 

Make sure you let it cool completely before cutting into it, otherwise chocolate will ooze everywhere! 


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