Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chocolate and cardamom tart

Serves 8-10

Now I'm re-visiting some amazing middle eastern combinations, coffee and cardomom as a great example, I'm looking to take this a little further with this subtle, yet impressive dark, bittersweet chocolate tart. This tart is best made in the afternoon, allowed to sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving for dinner. Serve with some crème fraîche or even a really good simple vanilla ice cream to cut the richness of the chocolate.

300g sweet pastry
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
400g dark bitter chocolate
2 shots of espresso
3 cardamom pods
200ml full cream milk
Pinch of salt
200ml double cream
2 tblsp runny honey
2 tblsp caster sugar
Crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream, to serve

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 1/4 cm thickness, and line a lighty greased 20cm tart tin with a removable base, pushing well into the sides so there are no air pockets between the pastry and the tin. Leave a little excess pastry overhanging the sides to allow for shrinkage and trimming. Pop this into the freezer for an hour to allow the pastry to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Line the pastry case with foil and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 15-20 minutes until the sides of the pastry are lightly golden. Remove the foil and beans, brush the surface with a tiny amount of the beaten egg and return to the oven for another 5 minutes until the pastry base is cooked through and the egg glaze has set to a sheer finish. Remove and leave to cool while you prepare the filling. Lower the oven temperature to 150C/Gas 2.

Chop the chocolate and put into a large heatproof bowl. Lightly crush the cardamom pods and shake the seeds into a mortar. Add a tiny pinch of salt and grind the seeds to a fine powder. Add to the bowl of chopped chocolate.

Put the milk, cream, honey and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. When it comes to the boil, add the espresso and immediately pour the hot liquid onto the chocolate, whisking well until all the chocolate has melted and the combined mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly before stirring in the remaining beaten eggs, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large jug.

Put the pastry case on a baking sheet, then pull the middle shelf of the oven out halfway and put the baking sheet on to it. Make sure the shelf is level, and then pour the chocolate mixture into the case until it comes to just below the rim.

Carefully slide the oven shelf back and bake the tart for about 25-35 minutes until the filling begins to set around the sides. It should still be wobbly in the middle. Turn off the oven and leave the tart to cool inside. The filling will continue to set as it cools. When the tart is pretty much at room temperature, remove it from the tin and slice when your ready to eat.