Dark Chocolate & Apricot Tart
I'm not much of a baker (I consider myself particularly poor at those skills, to be fair) but when I read about this, I just had to give it a go. And I'm so glad I did.... this is up there with the tidiest of all tidy munches! The slightly sharp fruitiness of the apricot brings a nice balance to the dark chocolate, with it's potential for bitterness. The pastry is crumbly, sweet and delicious, and the overall tart is remarkably light in texture and taste.
The recipe is adapted (quite closely) from the one in Moro The Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark. Being an artsy-fartsy pretentious sort, I've included it in the main photo for this recipe. It's a beautiful book to look at, well written, and some of the recipes look very good indeed. I'd originally intended to buy it for my mum's birthday - I wanted to get her a tagine and also some recipes - I saw this book when I was searching on Amazon, but couldn't find a list of contents. I decided not to risk it, but was so intrigued that I bought it for myself. And just as well, because: a) There was only one tagine recipe which would've made for a rubbish present; and b) It has this amazing recipe in it, right?
Now I'd love to stay and chat a bit longer, but there's chocolate tart downstairs that isn't gonna eat itself!
210g plain flour
45g icing sugar
110g chilled butter, in small cubes
2 medium egg yolks
250g dried apricots
3tbsp lemon juice
165g 70% dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
200g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
90g caster sugar
I've bulked this recipe up by another 50% from what was in the book. I'm not sure if my tart tin thingimy bob was larger than theirs, but I didn't seem to have enough pastry (or filling!) otherwise!
This serves one. Well, in the book it serves six. I reckon it could quite comfortably do eight in these proportions. Or one. Eight times. Or just the once.
It makes sense to start with the shell, right? You won't get far without it. This can be prepared in advance.
1. Sift the flour and Icing sugar together, and add the cubes of butter. Blitz them in a food processor, til you get a consistency like fine bread crumbs.
2. Add in the egg yolks, and mix it all together. I find this is easiest done by hand, and that you need to apply a bit of pressure to get it all to come together. Like a Beatles song. But different.
3. It should be quite crumbly, but still come together in a ball. If you think it may be too dry, add a tiny splash of milk or water. Shape it into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in cling film, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. The pastry, not you. Although if you have a fridge large enough, and are so inclined, you may also chill there both literally and figuratively. We don't judge here.
4. After the hour (or however long), grate the dough into a loose-bottomed tart tin. Is it just me that had never heard of this amazing technique? It's strangely satisfying, as well as practical. Press it evenly around the base and edges of the tart tin. You're aiming for somewhere between 3-5mm (apparently). I took a look and tried to remember how thick the crust looked on tarts I'd previously enjoyed. Think I got it about right.
5. Prick the base, and pop it in the fridge for half an hour, while you pre-heat your oven to 220ºC. Now - This is where I admit that my first attempt at this tart didn't go quite to plan. On my second attempt, one of the two adjustments I made was to turn off the fan in my oven, and just use it on a "normal" setting. This way I didn't have to faff around with conversions.
6. After the half hour, pop the tart shell onto the top shelf of the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, until light brown. Then remove, and set aside to cool. Remember it's a loose-bottomed tart tin - don't put your hand through it! Not that I'd ever do such a thing, of course, but somebody may....
7. Turn the oven down to 180ºC
8. Now, while the shell is cooling, get started on the filling. Finely chop the dried apricots. This is a slow, laborious, sticky task, best accompanied with good music. I found the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack to be most suitable.
9. Add the water, lemon juice, and finely chopped apricots to a small pan, and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring until it starts to come together in a bit of a glossy paste. Then pop it into the food processor and blitz it down to a smoother paste. You didn't need me to tell you to wash the food processor after stage three did you?
10. It's up to you how smooth you blitz this down. Sam & Sam Clark recommend a smooth paste, but I like a little more texture. Plus I couldn't tell just from looking at the mixture, so went for it anyway. Good decision.
11. Pop the mixture into the cool tart shell, and spread evenly. Leave it to cool while you work on the chocolate.
12. This bit is fun. Melt the chocolate and unsalted butter together in a bain-marie. I achieve this with the aid of a bowl over the top of a pan of boiling water (don't let the bowl touch the water). As the butter and chocolate melt together, you should get a lovely smooth, glossy, liquid. Avoid tasting, at all costs, if you want to have any left for your tart.
13. Once the chocolate and butter has melted, whisk the eggs and caster sugar together, until they're, pale, light, and fluffy. This was my second major mistake of attempt number one. I underestimated how pale and fluffy pale and fluffy were. I recommend the use of a whisk, as doing this by hand with a fork takes forever and bloody well hurts. However, as it's the technique I used, the best advice I can give to get this right is: go hard and fast, until it feels like your arm is going to fall off, then keep going for five more minutes. The mixture should be light and have increased in volume. The surface will be covered in tiny tiny bubbles, and will appear quite frothy.
14. Massage your dead arm.
15. Fold the egg mixture together with the chocolate mixture, until it's all combined.
16. By now, a slight skin should've formed on the apricot layer. Add the chocolate/butter/egg mixture on top, and even it out with a spatula if you have to.
17. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes. You did turn the oven down to 180ºC, right? When it's done, the filling should be slightly wobbly just under the surface.
And it's a win for ASDA, with a tidy £11.27 followed by Tesco at £11.66. Morrisons were some way behind at £13.03 with Sainsbury's in their familiar position at a no-longer-shocking £14.85. I'm not angry, just disappointed.
In fairness, this may look expensive, but the only ingredients I had to buy especially were the apricots, and chocolate.
Why on Earth would you want to change anything about this?
If you don't like fruit, I guess you could do without it, but I really do think it helps to balance out the richness of the chocolate.
You could use a different fruit, but I'll admit now that I don't know what you'd have to do in regards to preparation, or what quantities you'd need. Things are complicated by the fact that the apricots were dried.
I guess a jam or preserve of sorts could be used, but you may have to be careful to make sure it's not too thin, if you want to avoid it bleeding into the base and/or making it soggy.
A mint fondant of sorts could be nice as an alternative lower layer, but I feel that's getting further and further away from the joy of this particular tart.
Similarly, you could try adding some flavouring to the chocolate mix if you were to abandon the lower layer altogether, but I have to admit that as fond as I am of a Tidy Tweak, I'll be leaving this recipe well and truly alone!
All credit for this one to Sam & Sam Clarke for their wonderful recipe and book: Moro The Cookbook.