Those who know me know that I will take any excuse to bake something special, and what is more special than a birthday treat. So when I learned Shannon’s birthday was just around the corner, I jumped at the chance to bake her a tart. Tarts may not be the most classic birthday sweet fare, but they certainly satisfy the decadent and indulgent factor required, especially if they’re filled with butter, chocolate and booze and topped with toasted nuts.
Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, which I frequent whenever I am home in the Bay Area, and when I’m not I pretend I am by baking from their cookbook. This is the perfect model of their desserts, stunning and sophisticated in presentation and taste (just like Shannon!) I would encourage you to make it next time you’re craving something a little bit special and wonderfully indulgent. And if you ever find yourself in the Mission District of San Francisco, stop by Tartine for a piece of tart. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Happy Birthday Shannon! If only you were here to blow out a candle and eat a slice. Guess I’ll just have to have two...
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
From Tartine by Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
1 fully baked and cooled Sweet Tart Dough tart shell
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (use the best you can find)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup brandy (optional)
2/3 cup granulated sugar (divided)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup whole hazelnuts, lightly toasted with skins rubbed off, and roughly chopped *
Have the tart shell ready for filling. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl. In a saucepan, combine the butter, liqueur (if using) and 1/3 cup of the sugar.
Place over medium-low heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Pour the butter mixture over the chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate melts.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, salt and zest.
Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed or a whisk, beat the mixture until it is a very pale yellow, is light and flows off the whisk in a thick ribbon when whisk is lifted out of the bowl. This will take about 3 minutes. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the melted chocolate, whisk to lighten the mixture, and then fold in the remaining egg mixture with a rubber spatula. Pour the filling into the pastry shell and smooth the surface with an offset spatula.
Arrange the hazelnuts evenly on top.
Bake the tart until the surface of the filling loses some of its shine but hasn't souffled (puffed up), 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature.
The tart will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to five days.
*Note: To toast nuts, spread on baking sheet and bake in 375-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the skins crack. To remove skins, rub warm nuts with a rough cloth. (Sometimes the skins slip off easily for me, sometimes they don’t – I don’t worry too much about it)