…or in my case “A Tale of Two Michels”:
When I read about the chosen theme for this month SHF on David Lebovitz’s blog I let out a little sigh…chocolate? again? Unbelievable as it seems, even I, the chocolate lover, was starting to gravitate towards more fruit based desserts after my chocolate filled holidays. But I kept on reading because after all, once you fall for chocolate you just keep on reading and eating and baking,…. The idea for this month was to pick a brand, any brand of chocolate and cook/bake with it.
I have to admit that although I do not consider myself a chocolate snob, I tend to buy higher end chocolate bars and blocks rather than store bought for some of my baking. The results are incomparable, and so are the textures and flavors. I have bought evey brands out there I could find in hope that even a cheap bar could taste as good but most of the time I have been disappointed. If I am going to include chocolate in a cake I choose Callebaut or Schockinag. They melt well, the chocolate retains its flavor through high temperature baking and I still have connections to get some big slabs at a moderate price. I use Valhrona if I make ganaches, creams and custards because the flavor really comes through and your palate can really tastes the chocolate.
Everybody has a different opinion about what kind and what brand of chocolate tastes better to them. I believe that one has to try as many different kinds of choclate brands and cocoa percentages to know what appeals to them. There is no shame in proclaiming loud and clear your love for a particular kind, whether it be dark, milk or white (not really chocolate I know but good anyhow). I confess that I am a milk chocolate fanatic, and dark chocolate higher than 65% does not appeal to me. For some reason it coats the back of my throat and leaves a very acidic tastes on my tongue. I am always in search a good quality milk chocolate, not one over saturated with cream, but one that is one molecule removed from a very smooth dark chocolate.
While at the Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marche, I was lucky enough to find 2 really interesting (to me) chocolate bars. In my pursuit to like darker chocolate I bought a bar from Michel Chaudun via Weiss chocolatier, 70% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. The second one was a milk chocolate bar from Michel Cluizel, “1er Cru de Plantation ‘Mangaro’ Milk Chocolate “.
I had a nibble of each the other day, and then I stacked one square of each and popped them in my mouth…and then I repeated this last bit by stacking them on top of a shortbread cookie…and then I wished I had a dozen or so of them…! But they were not easy to eat like that, if only I could melt them and serve them in a little shortbread crust… The solution was very easy: a chocolate ganache tart, and because I would melt the milk chocolate with an equal amount of dark chocolate the cream would not overpower the object of my desire.
Thank you to the two Michel for allowing me to create what is to me the best chocolate ganache tart I have had so far.
If you want to make this, use what your tastebuds qualify to be the best chocolate. Tastes is as subjective as love so use what you enjoy best.
Chocolate Ganache Tart, adapted from my head and Doris Greenspan (crust).
For 3 (4 inch) tarts
1/2 stick butter
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup powder sugar
1Tb cocoa powder
In a food processor, pulse all the crust ingredients. Empty in a bowl and knead until the dough comes together. The butter will warm up when in contact with your hands and will allow you to form the dough unto small disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the ganache.
Heat the cream over medium heat. When hot, remove from the stove and throw in the chocolates, let stand for a minute. Gently stir to incorporate all the chocolate. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the tartlett crusts.
For the tart shells:
I used 4 inch round tartlet molds but you can use smaller ones if desired, I got 3 filled tart with the quantity of chocolate I had melted. That point is really make and bake as you go.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap. Fit the dough into the tartket molds, prick with a fork and refrigerate while you heat up the oven to 350 degrees. Pre bake until done. Let the shells cool completely.
Remove from the molds and fill with the ganache. Refrigerate until the ganache is completely set.
For the decor, I melted 1/2 cup of sugar woth 2 Tb of water until golden brown and spoon shapes and lines onto parchment paper. I let the caramel cooled completely,cut out stands and branches and stuck them in the tart.
Ok, this was a rare splurge, combining 2 great names into one little tart, but hey it felt really good and the world around me almost stopped for a few minutes!