Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Citrus-Scented Chocolate Tart

Hi, I’m Lindsay, and I’m a chocoholic.

There, I said it.

I have an affinity for all things chocolate. Truffles, cakes, pies or straight from the Hershey’s bar, chocolate is definitely my weakness. I have been known to skip breakfast entirely and head straight for the Godiva if I have a box lying around.

Don’t pretend like you haven’t done it.

This Citrus-Scented Chocolate Tart is an elegant dessert to serve to guests and fellow chocolate-lovers. It looks like a flourless chocolate cake, but a little orange and lemon zest in the filling give it a light citrus flavor reminiscent of those chocolate oranges that you would crack open on the counter. The recipe for the filling is a snap, and the homemade cocoa pastry crust is surprisingly easy to make in a food processor for those who have never rolled their own crust before (me).

I have been dying to try a recipe from this bake! cookbook by Nick Malgieri ever since my boyfriend gave it to me for Christmas.

Yes, I have a very sweet boyfriend who gives great gifts.

Alright, maybe his mom helped him a little.


It’s a beautiful cookbook filled with sophisticated recipes for all kinds of pastries and breads from breakfast danishes to foccaccia bread. And, with its step-by-step instructions and pictures, it has great tips so even beginners can achieve perfect results.

This Citrust-Scented Chocolate Tart was only one of many delectable looking sweet tarts, cakes and pies, and the recipe also had a number of variations for customization, which I’ll include at the end with the recipe.

What you’ll need:

1 10-inch tart tin with a bottom that pops out. I found one at target with a pretty blue scalloped edge that, although I was skeptical, works fabulously.

For the cocoa crust: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, salt, butter and eggs. (Pretend I have a pretty picture of all of these ingredients lined up on my counter).

For the filling: heavy cream (or half-and-half), sugar, 55-65% semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, butter, eggs, salt, lemon juice and zest, orange juice and zest, and vanilla.

For garnish: whipped cream and orange or lemon zest.

To make the crust, sift measured flour, baking powder and cocoa into a food processor.

Add the sugar.

Add the salt.

Pulse for a few seconds until combined (don’t forget to put the lid on!).

Throw in the cold butter, and pulse at 1-second intervals until the butter is finely ground into the dry mixture.

Add the eggs, and pulse at intervals again until the dough forms a ball around the blade.

On a floured surface, flip the bowl over onto the counter, and carefully remove the blade from the dough.

Divide the dough into two parts, wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days). This recipe is supposed to be enough for two crusts, although I found that I needed more than half to work with my tin.

It was a disgustingly muggy day outside (humid midwest weather) and the dough was much easier to work with once I put it in the fridge for a few minutes.

For an easy way to roll out the dough, place the insert from the tart tin on the counter, and sprinkle with flour on top and around the outside of the tin.

Roll out the pastry dough disk with a well-floured rolling pin until the dough is thin and goes over the edge of the tin a couple of inches on all sides (this is the part that will go up the sides of the tin). It should be about 13 in. in diameter. Be careful not to go over the edges of the dough too much to avoid cracked edges.

Carefully fold the edges of the dough into the center of the tin insert, and transfer into the scalloped ring of the tart tin, pressing the folded edges up the side of the tin. It’s ok if the edges are rough and there are a couple of small holes – we can fix all of this.

Make sure the dough is flush with the bottom and sides of the pan with no air bubbles. Then, take your rolling pin straight across the top of the tin. This cleanly cuts off the edges of the crust. You can take the scraps to then fill in any little gaps you may have in your tart crust.

To finish, gently press or pinch the top part of the scalloped indents around the tin with your thumb and forefinger.

Ready for filling!

If you thought the crust was a little difficult, no fear, the filling is super easy and pretty much fail-proof.

To make the filling, whisk the cream (or half-and-half) and the sugar over medium heat until boiling.

Take the cream off of the heat, and add the butter and chopped chocolate. Give the pan a little shake to submerge all of the chocolate, and let sit for one minute.

Whisk the cream/sugar/butter/chocolate mixture. This is where the magic happens. The ugly speckled mixture turns into a tantalizing and smooth chocolate ganache just begging to be snitched from the bowl.

Did your family call it snitching too? Like when you ran your finger along the bowl in the cake batter before it was ready for baking? Maybe, maybe not. That’s what my family called it, anyway.

Whisk in the eggs and salt until smooth. I was a little worried the eggs might scramble in the hot mixture, but the magic of the ganache left me with a perfectly smooth filling.

Add the lemon juice and zest (they are combined in my photos). Although it seemed a little extreme to strain the juice, I have to say it left a pure and velvety smooth chocolate tart in the end (no one wants a pulpy tart. I never liked the pulp). It’s also best to use a microplane grater for the zest for the same reason.

If we’re gonna work this hard, we may as well go for perfection!

Add the orange juice and zest.

Add the vanilla and give the whole thing a final whisk.

Pour into the tart crust, and bake at 350F until the crust is cooked through and the filling is set. I had to add 5 minutes to my own cooking time.

Voilá! (I just got back from France, and I never realized they ACTUALLY said that there – often). A beautiful baked tart!

Once cool, you can press the bottom of the tin and gently remove the tart from the scalloped ring. The tart should come out easy, no problem – this is why you want a tin with a removable insert in the bottom.

See? Pretty scalloped chocolatey edges.

Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream and a little orange or lemon zest for garnish.  I whipped up some fresh whipped cream with a little sugar and vanilla.

The whipped cream helps cut the richness of the deep chocolate flavor, and the lemon and orange juice in the filling helps the tart have a lighter taste than the more traditional flourless chocolate cake.

Although there are many steps, the whole process didn’t take me more than an hour (minus baking time). 

This sophisticated twist on a classic dessert would be great for entertaining, to impress your friends, or to prove to your parents that you really ARE surviving living and cooking on your own.

Or, maybe you’re just a chocoholic like me that simply needs a little more richness in your life.


Citrus-Scented Chocolate Tart Recipe:

Cocoa crust:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted after measuring
3 tablespoons alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder, sifted after measuring
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 10 pieces
2 large eggs

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the work bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix.
  2. Add the butter and pulse repeatedly at 1-second intervals until the butter is finely mixed into the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the eggs and pulse again until the dough forms a ball. Invert the dough to a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade.
  4. Divide the dough in half, then flatten each half into a disk. Use immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


1 1/4 cups light cream or half-and-half
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
8 oz. semisweet chocolate (55-65% cocoa solids), cut int 1/4-inch pieces
3 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice, strained before measuring
2 tablespoons orange juice, strained before measuring
1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec, optional 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Set an oven rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350F.
  2. Whisk the cream and sugar together in a small saucepan and place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Off heat, add the butter and chocolate to the saucepan and shake the pan to submerge them. Let stand 1 minute; whisk smooth.
  3. Add the eggs and salt; whisk them in, followed by the citrus zests, juices, liqueur, and vanilla.
  4. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake until the crust is baked through and the filling is set, about 25 minutes.
  5. Cool the tart on a rack. Unmold it and slide it from the pan bottom to a platter.

Serving: Serve the tart at room temperature with some slices of peeled orange, or decorate the edge of the tart with halved orange slices. Or serve with a little whipped cream and orange zest!

Storage: Keep the tart at room temperature until serving. Wrap and store leftovers at a cool room temperature.

Notes from bake!: "The flavor of this creamy chocolate filling is beautifully enhanced by lemon and orange zests and a little of each fruit's juice, both of which tie into the chocolate's natural acidity. I like to bake it in a cocoa-flavored crust to emphasize the tart's chocolate richness, but you may also use a plain or nut-enriched sweet dough. This tart also makes a delicious base for berries or orange or tangerine segments, or try hiding a thin layer of sliced bananas under the chocolate filling. Variations: for a pure chocolate flavor, omit the citrus zests and juices. Or scatter 1 cup fresh raspberries on the crust before pouring over the plain or citrus-scented filling; don't be tempted to add more berries, as they'll exude a lot of juice during baking. Or thinly slice a couple of poached pear halves and arrange them on the crust before adding the plain filling."

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