To Chocolate or Not to Chocolate

January 20, 2011
 My mother is personally offended by any dessert that isn’t chocolate. She firmly believes that no non-chocolate dessert can ever be worth the calories. When she eats my mocha pecan pie every Thanksgiving, I can tell that she considers it some distant cousin of a chocolate dessert – nice, but not familiar enough.

This Thanksgiving, I decided to create a chocolate dessert but it had to fall comfortably within the pie, tart, or galette world. I had been ruminating about flavored tart doughs but didn’t want an all chocolate tart. I wanted something happier, less dark. I chopped up chocolate and carefully kneaded it into my sugar cookie crust. I achieved a butter-color crust with chocolate specks.

I wanted the filling to be bittersweet and ganache-like, but thicker, like custard, so it needed some eggs. The result is definitely a rich tart. I was down to the last slice on Shabbat and ended up cutting it into 1-inch squares and handed it out to 10 people like little candies. They were happy with their bites. It was, however, much too small a piece for my mom.

I would love to conduct my own survey about preferences for chocolate versus other desserts. What percentage of the time do you choose to bake chocolate as opposed to fruit, nut or other desserts? I imagine chocolate will prevail, but I am curious to see by how much. Let’s see if everyone thinks like mom.

Chocolate Tart with a Chocolate Chip Crust

Serves 8, or more

Pastry Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

5 tablespoons parve margarine, frozen 30 minutes and then cut into tablespoons

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons cold water

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


¾ cup parve whipping cream

1/3 cup soy milk

½ vanilla bean, scraped

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2 egg yolks

To make the crust, place the flour, confectioners’ sugar and margarine into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process for 10 seconds, until the mixture resembles sand.  Add the egg yolk, water, and vanilla and process just until the dough comes together. Do not mix too much. Place dough on a large piece of plastic wrap. Gather into a ball, cover and then flatten. Chill in the freezer one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place an 8-inch tart ring on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Grease the ring with a little margarine.

Remove dough from freezer and let sit until it softens a little so it can be rolled. Place a piece of plastic wrap larger than the ring on the counter and sprinkle with flour. Place dough on top.  Cover with a piece of parchment and roll on top of it to roll out the dough until it is at least one inch larger than the tart ring. Place your hand under the plastic, lift the dough and place in the tart ring using your finger to gently press the dough into the corners. Remove plastic and use a rolling pin to roll over the top to trim off excess dough.

Freeze 10 minutes. Line dough with foil or parchment and beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Lift up the edges of the foil or parchment to remove it and the weights and bake another 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven. This can be done in advance and frozen until use.

Bring the cream, soymilk and seeds of vanilla bean to boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk. In a separate small bowl, whisk the eggs. Add ½ cup of the chocolate mixture and whisk in. Place this mixture into the saucepan with the chocolate and cream and whisk well. Scoop into the tart shell and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool and then chill in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.