I love everything French. Crusty baguettes, rich foie gras, savoury galettes and even all kinds of stinky cheese. I could day dream all day about living in a tiny town in Provence, riding my bicycle to the morning market for groceries and returning home with a belly full of sampled jambon and sweet pâtisseries . It’s a shame that I’ve forgotten most of my high school level French, but some days I like to live vicariously through an imaginary French me, humming along to Francoise Hardy’s Comment te dire adieu? while rolling out perfect croissants in my tiny Parisian kitchen.
Last fall Dan and I travelled to France, specifically Paris, Lyon and Avignon. For the 2 weeks that we were there I was in culinary heaven. Much to Dan’s dismay, I dragged him to every cookery store that was highlighted in The Food Lovers Guide to Paris. A visit to G. Detou was of course a must. I’m pretty sure I stood in the aisle staring in awe at all the brick-sized blocks of chocolate for quite some time until Dan’s impatient foot tap interrupted my baker’s fantasy. I would’ve purchased the entire shop if I could, but I was already testing the check-in limit with the 2 bottles of wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. So alas, I escaped France with a bag of pearl sugar, jars of floral fleur de sel and a large tart pan that I thought would be perfect for the days I wanted to dream in French.
Yesterday was Bastille Day (Vive la France!) and although I’m nearly 3600 miles away from the Eiffel Tower; I still wanted to celebrate in my Bermuda kitchen by making tarte au chocolate with my souvenirs from Paris. A classic pastry of rich chocolate with a hint of lavender, a small sliver is all you need to make your day a little sweeter and perhaps you’ll even dream en francais!
1/2 cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup powdered sugar (60 grams)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1.5 cup (195 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
In a large bowl whisk together flour and salt, set aside. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for a few minutes until mayonnaise constancy. Add flour and continue to beat at low speed until the flour mixes with the butter/sugar and looks like wet sand. Add the egg and mix on low for 30 seconds until the dough comes together.
Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Sprinkle flour over the counter. Take the dough out of the Fridge and bang on it a few times to soften it up. Unwrap the dough and roll it out into a 12-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Carefully roll the dough onto the pin and then roll out onto a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan so it fits tightly; press the edges into the sides of the pan. It is important to press the dough evenly into every nook and corner of the ring. Use scraps to patch up any tears or missing areas.
Pierce the dough with a fork and place a piece of parchment paper over the centre of the shell and top with dried beans or pie weights. Place the tart shell in the fridge again for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven for 350°C and bake for 15 minutes, and then remove the beans or weights and bake again for another 15-20 minutes until slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup)
flaky sea salt
Preheat oven to 325°C
Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat cream and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until slightly simmering and pour immediately over the chocolate. Mix well until the chocolate has melted. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add to the chocolate mixture and whisk until completely blended and glossy.
Carefully pour into the cooled tart shell. Bake for 15-20 minutes until set and surface remains glossy. Cool on a rack and sprinkle sea salt and dried lavender buds before serving.