I've been contemplating taking up tennis. Not because I love tennis or anything like that. I used to take tennis lessons in the summer, when I was in high-school. I wasn't a particularly talented tennis player, but I was good enough that I could serve overhead and keep the ball in the court for some time. Of course, when college and university hit, I had no time for tennis, or most extra-curriculars. I dropped tennis just like I dropped piano and swimming because I chose to focus on school and be the best student (or die trying) in all my classes. It was a choice that I made. Over ten years later, I think dropping these activities was a terrible idea. Now, when I sit in front of a piano, I can remember how I used to play, but my fingers can't quite keep up. Picking up a tennis racket feels weird. And, I'm pretty sure, every time I do the butterfly stroke in the pool, I probably look like I'm drowning.
A few weeks ago, a note appeared on my apartment building's bulletin board that made me consider taking up tennis again: a man in my building is looking for a tennis partner. Maybe he's single and cute! His hand-writing is neat, though block letters. I love his use of a Sharpie to write this message, which, by the way, is in English (bonus!). And, though I do own a racket, I don't think I could pass for an "intermediate" player. I'm not even sure I could hit a tennis ball if it was shot my way from across a tennis court. Maybe I'll call the guy, tell him I'll play tennis with him, and on our first game day, I could show up with tea and this earl grey chocolate truffle tart, thus distracting him from the tennis playing. Maybe I'll just nibble on this Earl grey chocolate truffle tart from the comfort of my home while I dream about wooing a boy with either my mad tennis skills, or this tart (realistically, probably the latter).
The original tart recipe is from Abby Dodge, and was published in Fine Cooking. This is a gorgeous recipe for a decadent chocolate tart that is sure to please chocolate enthusiasts and lovers of all things graham cracker. Abby Dodge proposed this recipe for a "bake together" event where bloggers could take her original recipe, tweak it to their hearts' desires, and then blog about it.
For my rendition of this tart, I went with Earl grey as my flavor add-in. For the mascarpone cream topping, the finely chopped tea leaves, added directly to the cream, worked dreamily. The flavor is great, lending a slightly floral, citrusy note to the cream. I loved the look of the flecks of tea throughout the bright cream. Honestly, I'd use this mascarpone cream again, maybe for a trifle.
Sadly, I had trouble getting the Earl grey flavor to stand up to the chocolate flavor of the truffle filling. I tested both white and dark chocolate, steeping the cream with loads of Earl grey tea (3 tea bags) before using that cream to make the ganache filling. The texture of the dark chocolate ganache filling is wonderfully smooth, but the flavor of the tea didn't shine as I had hoped. In the end, I felt the dark chocolate ganache filling was the winner because the white chocolate was a little too sweet and didn't set as quickly, nor as nicely as the dark.
Thank you, Abby Dodge, for providing us with such a great recipe that is very easy, and yields an impressive dessert that tastes like it must have taken days to make. I'm glad I put my homemade graham crackers to good use in this recipe.
Earl grey chocolate truffle tart
Yields one 9x9-inch square tart
If you are making a 9-inch round tart (as was the original recipe), just halve the crust recipe, but keep the filling amounts the same.
- 255 grams graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 85 grams unsalted butter, melted
- 340 grams 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 57 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3 Earl grey tea bags
- 250 mL half-and-half (in Quebec, this is called "crème à café" and has a 10% fat content)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- 1 pack (250 grams) mascarpone cheese
- 188 mL heavy cream (35% fat content)
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- Tea leaves from 2 Earl grey tea bags, finely chopped if they aren't so already
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have a 9x9-inch square tart pan with removable bottom ready, placed on a baking sheet so that you can easily transfer to and from the oven.
- In a medium bowl mix the crust ingredients until the butter has evenly coated all the crumbs.
- Pour the crust mixture in the tart pan, and press it out firmly and evenly all over the base and up the sides of the pan.
- Bake the crust for about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool.
Prepare the filling:
- Begin by simmering (not boiling) the cream in a small saucepan with the tea bags for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove the pan from the stove, but leave the tea bags in while you work on the chocolate.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate with the butter in the microwave on power level 5, microwaving for 1 minute at a time, then stirring, and repeating, until it is all melted and smooth.
- Remove the tea bags from the cream and add the tea-steeped hot cream to the chocolate mixture and stir until it is smooth (if the cream was a little cold, and the mixture appears curdled, just nuke it again for a couple minutes on power level 7, stirring every minute).
- Add the vanilla, salt
- Let the chocolate ganache you've just made sit on the counter, for an hour or so, to cool and set just enough that it is still pourable, but not super liquid (you know what I mean?).
- Transfer the ganache to the tart shell using a rubber spatula, being sure to not get chocolate on the edges, and also to not disturb the delicate edges of the crust.
- Let cool completely, cover, and refrigerate until the filling is set, about 4 hours and up to 8 hours before proceeding with the recipe.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the mascarpone, cream, sugar, and tea leaves on low, to combine, then on medium-high, until the mixture is thick and holds firm peaks. Don't overbeat, or you'll make butter (tasty, but not what we're going for here...).
- With an offset spatula, spread the topping over the set tart, leaving pretty swirls and peaks of cream. Don't worry if a little ganache is peaking through the cream. It looks better like that.