Rich Chocolate Tart

As a chocolate lover, I gazed in amazement at the picture of this chocolate tart on the Cook’s Illustrated website. It was a thing of absolute beauty, and I was sure it would taste just as amazing. It did. The recipe did require some equipment that I didn’t have: 9″ tart pan with removable bottom, and 2 cups of pie weights. So I made the 20 mile trip to buy the pan, though there was a problem with the pie weights (see Issues below).

Brand new masterpiece from November 2013 issue

Brand new masterpiece from November 2013 issue.

The only caveat is that the tart is difficult to make in 1 day, requiring about 9 hours of clock time. I mistakenly started making the crust at noon, hoping the tart would be finished in time for 7pm dessert. It wasn’t. The pie crust takes about 3 hours, including 1 hour to cool before you start making the filling. Then another 5 hours to make the filling and bake the tart, including a full 4 hours of cooling before moving onto the glaze. The final glazing steps will require an additional 2 hours before slicing, including a total of at least 1-1/2 hours of waiting.  Of course, the recipe is worth the wait; 4-1/2 stars. I will definitely make it again.

Delicious tart was worth the effort

Delicious tart was worth the effort

Comments / Issues:

  1. I accidentally used a whole stick of butter for crust (8 rather than 6 tablespoons). So the dough did not form into a ball in step 6. To compensate, I had to add more flour until the dough turned into a ball. The 1/2-star deduction from a perfect score was because of the dough, which might have been caused by my own error (and not the recipe). The dough didn’t taste enough like almonds, and was a little too cake-like.
  2. After driving the 20 miles to buy pie weights, I was discouraged by the lilliputian container; about 4-1/2 ounces for $6. I guessed that I would need $18 of pie weights. So I put off that purchase to buy them online, and I used 1-pound of dried kidney beans to make the tart.
  3. I wasn’t able to make chocolate curls as suggested for topping, but will try again next time using a straighter block of chocolate and vegetable peeler. Chris Kimball also says that I could top it with coarse salt, but I wasn’t prepared to risk the entire tart. Another serving suggestion: lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with cognac or vanilla
  4. Chris Kimball says that you can use skinned hazelnuts in lieu of almond slices, which will similarly need to be toasted in Step 1 of making the crust.
  5. Chris Kimball recommends using dark chocolate containing between 60 and 65% cacao. Two recommended brands include: Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar, or Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate, L-60-40NV.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $10.
How much work? High.
How big of a mess? High.
Started: 9:00 AM.  Ready: 7:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original tart recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

Crust Ingredients:
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar (1-3/4 ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. Toast the sliced almonds for 5 minutes over medium heat until toasted; stirring often to ensure even toasting. Allow to cool for 5 minutes,
  2. Meanwhile, cut 6 tablespoons butter into 1/2″ pieces, and set aside until step 5. Then in a small bowl, add the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, and beat to combine. Set aside until step 6.
  3. Add toasted almonds and 1/4 cup of sugar to food processor, and process for 15 to 20 seconds until nets are finely ground.
  4. Add 1 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pulse for 10 one-second pulses. I had to scrape out the corners of the bowl.
  5. Evenly spread butter over flour mixture, and pulse for 15 one-second pulses until resembles coarse meal.
  6. With the food processor running, and the egg yolk mixture from Step 2, and process for 10 seconds until the dough forms a ball.
  7. Empty dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and press out until it forms a 6″ disk. Refrigerate the wrapped dough for 30 minutes, until the dough becomes firm but still workable.
  8. Lay out dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, then roll into an 11″ circle (If dough becomes too soft or sticky, refrigerate until the texture improves). Refrigerate the 11″ disk for 15 minutes on a sheet pan.
  9. Spray your 9″ tart pan with non-stick cooking spray. Remove dough from refrigerator, but leave it on the sheet pan (to aid flipping). Remove the top layer of plastic wrap. Put tart pan upside down, and press so that the pan’s edges cut the dough. Flip (sheet pan and all) so that tart pan is now upright. Remove plastic wrap, and use your rolling-pin to finish cutting the dough. Reserve both sheets of plastic wrap and the dough scrapes. (see photos for flipping technique).
  10. Gently push dough down to the bottom on the tart pan. Roll dough scrapes into 3/4″-thick rope, and line the edge all the way around the pan.
  11. Gently push dough rope into the pan’s fluted sides, and lay the plastic wrap on top of the dough, and use a measuring cup to smooth the dough along the edges (see photo). The sides should be about 1/4″-thick. Use a paring knife to neatly trim away the dough down to the level of the rim of the tart pan. This time you can discard the scraps.
  12. Put tart pan in freezer for 25 minutes until firm. Meanwhile, set a rack to the middle of your oven and begin preheating to 375-degrees.
  13. Put on a baking sheet. Spray a 12″ square sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray, and lay over pie crust with oiled-side-down. Empty 2 cups of pie weights to maintain shape; I used dried kidney beans instead. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the crust half-way through baking to ensure the crust is evenly cooked.
  14. Remove pie weights and aluminum foil and continue baking at 375-degrees for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust becomes golden brown.
  15. Place one a wire rack and allow to cool completely for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Also remove 4 tablespoons of butter (for filling) so that it properly softens, and 2 large eggs so that the come up to room temperature.

Filling Ingredients:
1-1/4 cups heavy cream (10 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs

  1. Finely chop your 9 ounces of dark chocolate and add to a large, heat-proof mixing bowl. Unless you chop up your chocolate, the pre-heated cream would have enough residual heat to properly melt your ingredients in Step 4. Cut your butter into thin slices.
  2. Begin preheating to 250-degrees, with your oven rack still in the middle of your oven.
  3. Combine 1-1/4 cups heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Put over a medium burner, and bring it up to a simmer.
  4. Empty simmering cream into bowl with chocolate, cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes without stirring. Use a whisk to slowly stir until combined, being careful not to incorporate any air into the mixture. Add butter slices and continue to whisk until it becomes completely incorporated.
  5. Put eggs through a fine mesh strainer and carefully whisk into chocolate until it becomes glossy.
  6. Empty filling into prepared tart crust and gently move crust from side-to-side until the filling is evenly distributed and the surface is smooth. Use a toothpick to pop and air bubbles that you see.
  7. Bake, with tart on a baking sheet, at 250-degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until the outer edge is barely set. You may see very faint cracks on the surface, but the filling will still wobble when moved.
  8. Leave on sheet pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack for 1 hour. The refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 3 hours (but up to 18 hours) until the filling becomes chilled and is completely set.

Glaze Ingredients:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon hot water

  1. Remove the tart from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you begin the glaze. Finely chop 2 ounces of chocolate.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons heavy cream and 1 tablespoon light corn syrup to a small saucepan. Bring up to a simmer over a medium burner, stirring occasionally to combine.
  3. Once you bring it to a simmer, remove the pan from burner. Add the chopped chocolate, cover, and allow the chocolate to soften for 5 minutes. Gently whisk without incorporating any air until smooth.
  4. Add hot water, and whisk until shiny and pourable. Quickly pour the glaze over the middle of the tart, and tilt the tart so that the glaze runs to the edges. In my case, I wasn’t quick enough and the glaze had cooled too much, so I had to use the blade of a chef’s knife to even out the glaze (which left a few marks).
  5. Use a toothpick to pop and bubbles, and allow to cool for at least 1 hour (but 2 hours is better, as my glaze hadn’t quite hardened).
  6. Remove the outer ring of the tart pan, and use a thin-blade metal spatula (or chef’s knife) to loosen the tart from the pan’s bottom, and slide onto your serving plate.
After 1 hour glaze still hadn't fully hardened.

After 1 hour glaze still hadn’t fully hardened.

13 Responses to Rich Chocolate Tart

  1. Katie C. says:

    That looks lovely! BTW: save those beans in a jar or something. According to “Martha”, you can use them over and over and over again. I have to say that crust seems a bit too much work. I would probably use a graham cracker crust. The whole recipe is a lot of work but the chocolate is calling me. How long do you think the pie will keep? If I made it for Thanksgiving, it would have to be done at least one or two days in advance.

    • Hi,

      I love the chocolate/almond combination, so think that the theory of the crust may be much better than my execution. Had I not had to add more flour, then the almond taste might be more pronounced, and it might have been worth it to make the crust. As it stands, I’m not so sure.

      I kept it refrigerated for a week (and it still tastes great on day 6), but the first day it is almost at room temperature. I think you can do everything, up to the glazing step, and then nobody would notice that you made most of it ahead of time. If you pre-glaze, another option would be to remove from refrigerator 2 hours ahead of dessert time.

      BTW – I already threw away the beans 😦 But I’m going to try to buy pie weights online.


  2. Marios says:

    Just got my issue of CI last week and I have also bookmarked it. Glad you tested it and it came out good.

  3. Caroline G says:

    Hi Mark! Love your site! I’m a long-time Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country member. I really appreciate your reviews and how thorough you are. I’ve visited on and off since you started. For this recipe, and others with lots of cooling time, I can’t stress enough how helpful your *freezer can be! Please do try. Looks like this turned out fantastic! Looking forward to your posts!

    • Thanks. I often wish CI gave me the total preparation time so I can better plan, and when I am trying a new recipe I am hesitant to stray too far from the written recipe. But, I think you’re right that the freezer would have chilled the dough a lot faster than the refrigerator.


  4. Stephen says:

    Hey where did you buy the pie weights ? I believe Bed Bath and Beyond has them, or Chef Central. Another thing you can use is a pile of coins….

    • I went to Chef’s Central but had sticker shock at how much I was going to have to spend. So I still haven’t purchased them online, though they would have been nice to have as Thanksgiving approaches. I haven’t checked out Bed Bath and Beyond. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Doreen says:

    This is definitely a showstopper desert! I’ve made it for Thanksgiving and it was requested for Christmas also. Pie weights? I went to the Dollar Store and bought a couple bags of the flattened marbles used for stabilizing floral arrangements about $1 for a 1 1/2 cups!

  6. Teresa Kelly says:

    I made this tart yesterday, starting at noon, and as you explained, it takes a full day. I ended up skipping the glaze because I was fed up with the fussiness of the recipe. After eating a small slice, my husband and I both noted how extremely bitter it is. I used Ghiradellii 60% Bittersweet Chocolate. I don’t think that the 1 Tbsp corn syrup in the glaze would have made up for what I think is a tart very lacking in sweetness. Has the lack of sweetness been a problem for anyone else?

  7. Sonya says:

    I tried this tart twice (ATK Family Cookbook contains it, and I saw a peanut butter version in the CI Baking Book – just has you add a layer of peanut butter atop the crust) – and I didn’t care for it much either time. It just reminds me how much we all have different tastes, even with a very very good recipe 🙂

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