I stopped baking at home for awhile. You may or may not have noticed. I guess that was the first sign that something was not right. Sure, I was still going to school, and practicing at home by making génoises until I had blisters from all the hand whisking. I even finally succeeded (more than once!) at hand-whisked Italian meringue (with more blisters). But, there was no home-y baking happening, and no baking that was just for me and for the simple pleasure of baking. To be honest, recently even the practicing slowed.
Then last Friday, during the practical class on crème brûlées and crème caramels, I had trouble with the blowtorch, and I couldn't quite get the "brûlée" part right. I only had two tries and I flopped on both, and my heart sank. I was embarrassed. My heart was already not in the right place the entire lab, but those crème brûlées set me over the edge. I was sad and my heart hurt.
My heart hurt with the realization that there are only two weeks left to the basic level of my pâtisserie course and yet, I have trouble with the sugar-top of a crème brûlée. How can the first term already be over? I've only done most of the recipes in our course binder once, so how much could I have actually learned?
Then, I got angry: it's not my fault that I feel this way.
I got angry at my school with its system that gives me only one chance to make each recipe and somehow master and understand it. I am frustrated because regardless of the recipe, I only have 2.5 hours to complete it, from start to finish. That's more than a little aggravating when I'm in the moment and I know that I could do better. Right now, I'm focused on learning and understanding, and I truly feel that speed comes with practice and agility. Yet, I only have the opportunity to bake for a total of 6 hours a week at school (which includes 1 hour of clean-up so really it's 5). That's the amount of time I often put baking for one blog post, depending on the day.
My heart still hurts, but I'm armed with a letter and I'm fighting "the man". I'm fighting for what I love and I'm trying to make it right. Wish me strength as I try to get my point heard and my issues resolved.
In the meantime, I have a tart recipe for you. I have been patiently holding on to this recipe from a Donna Hay magazine from last year (issue 58) and waiting for rhubarb season to begin. Please use good quality chocolate for this recipe because it will make the ganache that much better. I used Cacao Barry chocolate (specifically a combination of their Equateur 76%, St-Domingue 70% and Mexique 66% chocolates). This tart is sinfully good and a great change from the usual rhubarb desserts. Of course, if you don't love rhubarb, just make the tart with fresh raspberries, poached pears...
P.S. Here's a great tip I learned: if you make your ganache incorrectly, you will find that as you stir it, the fats begin to separate from the creamy chocolate mixture and it just won't look right. If this happens, simply add a couple tablespoons of cold milk (or even water), stir, et voilà: silky smooth chocolate ganache.
Dark chocolate and roasted rhubarb tartMakes one 9-inch tart
- 25 grams cocoa powder
- 185 grams all-purpose flour
- 80 grams icing sugar
- 125 grams cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp cold water (optional, depending on texture of dough)
- 200 grams rhubarb, washed and trimmed, and cut into 10 cm lengths
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 300 grams dakr chocolate, chopped
- 250 mL heavy cream
- Extra cocoa powder for dusting over the finished tart
Dark chocolate ganache
To make the chocolate dough
- Sift the cocoa powder, flour and icing sugar into a large bowl.
- Add the cold butter and work it into the flour mixture by rubbing your palms together through the mixture until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Make a well in the center and add the yolks. Work the yolks into the dough with a fork or even your fingers.
- If the dough is slightly dry, add a spoonful or so of cold water until the desired texture is obtained.
- Form the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate til firm, or at least for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Roll out the disk of dough between two pieces of parchment until it is 3 mm thick.
- Line a 9-inch removable bottomed tart pan with the dough and work it into the corners and edges. Trim and neaten it up.
- Freeze the unbaked tart for half an hour or until very, very cold.
- Dock the pastry with a fork and with a 6 mm piping tip, cut out a whole in the center of the tart to allow steam to escape (make sure to cut all the way through and remove the piece).
- Place the tart on a baking sheet and blind bake the tart for about 15–20 minutes until the pastry is fully cooked and appears dry (not glossy).
- Remove the tart from the oven. If there are any bumps of air under the surface of the tart shell, press down very gently with a clothed hand (beware of steam) to release the steam. Let cool before unmolding it carefully and placing it on a plate.
- Toss rhubarb with the sugar and rosewater and bake it on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with foil, until the rhubarb is tender (about 20 minutes). Let cool completely before using.
- Heat the cream in a small saucepan and when it is steamy, pour it over the chopped chocolate.
- Wait a minute, then begin to stir it from the middle, out, until you obtain a smooth, silky ganache. (if all else fails, see above for my ganache saving tip!). Let the ganache thicken slightly before using.
- Line the bottom of the baked tart shell with the rhubarb.
- Top with ganache, and let the tart set in the fridge for a couple of hours.
- When you are ready to serve the tart, sprinkle the top with some cocoa powder to make it pretty.