Thursday, July 3, 2014

Chocolate and the Yellow Jersey!

While the entire US is gearing up for 4th of July celebrations, I'm looking forward to the 101st Le Tour de France, which begins Saturday, July 5 through Sunday, July 27! The peleton (which refers to the entire group of cyclists, each wearing their team jerseys) will have to battle it out over 21 stages: 9 flat, 5 hill, 6 mountain (that will have 5 altitude finishes - my favorite!), and  1 time-trial. The Tour is a grueling affair, with wrecks (where some will suffer injuries, usually referred to as "road rash"), packs of humorously dressed fans (who are not restricted from getting as close to the riders as they want), and only 2 days of rest! Phew!

At the end of each stage, jerseys are awarded to the overall leader (the yellow jersey), the best sprinter (the green jersey), the best climber (the polka dot jersey), and the best young rider under 25 (the white jersey). The beauty of the Tour is that the standings can change day by day, up to the grand finale where the final jerseys (and prize money) are awarded! An amazing celebration and light show at the Arc de Triomphe wraps it all up! While I am not a true cycling enthusiast, I love to watch the tour to see all the beautiful locations that I have yet to visit! France is a beautiful country!

So, in honor of the Tour, I would like to share this recipe for "Tarte au Chocolat" from Reims, France (one of the Tour stages!), published in Bon Appetit, May 1994. This recipe is fabulous because it makes just enough pastry to create a beautifully thin crust, and the filling is rich and decadent! Please note that I've altered the original recipe by adding a chocolate glaze to give it a glossy top! After all, no one minds extra chocolate!

(They're racing to my tart! Ha! Ha!)

Tarte au Chocolat (Chocolate Tart)

Serves 8
*You will need a 9" tart pan with removable bottom.

For the Pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Chocolate Filling
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 egg

For the Glaze
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the Pastry
Blend the flour and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add the cream and process until moist clumps form. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk. Wrap in the plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out on lightly floured surface (or between two sheets of plastic wrap) to form an 11" round. Remove one sheet of plastic wrap (if using). Using the remaining piece of dough/plastic wrap, place the dough (plastic side up) into a 9" diameter tart pan. Press gently into place. Remove the plastic wrap and fold over the edges to form a double thickness on the sides. Poke the bottom of the pastry with the tines of a fork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, line the crust with aluminum foil, shiny side down. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. (I keep a large jar of beans, which I reuse over and over.)

Bake 20 minutes. Carefully loosen the foil from the edges of the tart crust, then gently lift out the foil and beans. Continue to bake the crust until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Maintain oven temperature.

For the Chocolate Filling
Bring the heavy cream and milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Beat egg in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk 1/4 cup of the chocolate mixture into the egg. Whisk in the remaining chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the filling into the tart crust and bake until set, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

For the Glaze
Place the chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate. Stir to melt. Pour over the tart so it coats the top evenly, tipping if necessary, using a spatula to smooth it out. Let set at room temperature for at least an hour to firm before serving.

**See also Savory Swiss Chard Tart and Creme Patissiere for more recipes that honor the Tour!

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