The answer is No to all of the above questions, except possibly the last one.
I mean, I do love to savor a hunk of really good chocolate occasionally, but I don’t by any means have a sweet tooth. In fact, eating anything too sweet makes my teeth hurt.
I suppose I feel the need to be prepared. I don’t want to be overtaken by a sudden need to bake Death-by-Triple-Chocolate-Chip Brownie Bars and find that I don’t have the required amount or type of chocolate in the house; milk, white, dark, bittersweet, semisweet, un-sweet, chips, chunks or 1-pound bars.
That would mean packing myself and numerous children into the car for a trip to the store, which would wear me out and make me cranky. I don’t make Triple Chocolate anything when I’m cranky.
There’s more really good chocolate out there than ever before. Artisanal chocolate is readily available everywhere, and by artisanal I mean chocolate that can have a pure cocoa fat content of 60 percent or more. It’s made with freshly roasted beans that have been personally sourced by the chocolate maker in some hot, tropical country somewhere near the equator. Ideally the chocolate is made in small batches, sometimes using beautifully restored, centuries old German machines, as they do at Scharffen Berger.
All this boutique-quality craftiness has piqued the interest of mega corporations such as Hershey, which actually went out and purchased Scharffen Berger recently – that’s another story – and Nestle. I saw the new “premium” chocolate from Nestle, and felt obligated to buy some and add it to my hoard.
I snacked on a piece; it had an unappealing, waxy texture, and not a lot of depth. However, it melted beautifully and tastes very fine in the Chocolate Truffle Tart I made. The filling is unbelievably creamy and dense, unlike any other tart I’ve made.
The recipe is from the new (February) issue of Gourmet magazine. I adapted it by adding a little espresso powder to the filling; I think it intensifies the sexy, silky chocolatey-ness. For dusting, I used a Dutch-process Schokinag cocoa, from my “collection”, which gives this dessert the matte, red-dirt color of a luscious truffle.
Adapted from Gourmet magazine
Makes 10 servings
28 chocolate wafers (such as Nabisco Famous), finely ground in a food processor
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled completely
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon powdered instant espresso
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
1. Adjust oven racks to middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch springform pan and wrap the bottom with a sheet of foil to help prevent leakage.
2. To make the crust, combine the wafer crumbs and butter in a bowl; pat evenly onto bottom of pan and 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Bake until crust is slightly puffed, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt the chocolate and butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
4. Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, espresso, salt, and vanilla. Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined well. Pour the filling into cooled crust. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until slightly puffed, and filling is set to 1-inch from edge, with a slight jiggle in the center.
5. Cool tart completely on a wire rack, then chill in the fridge until firm, about 4
hours. Release pan sides, and dust top with cocoa.