Disclaimer #1: if you have ever said or thought “this is OK, but there’s a bit too much chocolate” don’t even bother with this post, there are many nice yummy baking treats in this blog, do not waste time with this, it will disappoint you.
I had been looking around for a great chocolate tart recipe for long time.
I know I know: chocolate, tart, what cannot be great about it? Yes, of course, even only based on the name one can never go that wrong. But actually, there was always something not quite right about it: not enough chocolate, too sweet, too bitter, too rich, too boring. I tried recipes where the ganache filling is cooked or simply let set in the fridge, recipes that used only dark chocolate and others that used also milk chocolate. I think one of the problems was also that I really do not like berries (sorry, that is something you will not find in my blog!) and many recipes uses the sweet and sour tang of raspberries to complement the intense richness of the dark chocolate, which I believe really works, if someone manages to eat raspberries :).
I was convinced and I still am that only dark chocolate should be used, and with as much cocoa solid as possible. But without another extra flavour a chocolate tart end up being a like a slightly softer mega bar of chocolate; good, nobody denies that, but not really special or worthy of the “hassle”. Then one day I came across two recipes almost at the same time: a short crust pastry enriched with ground hazelnuts and a home-made chocolate and hazelnuts spread (Nutella, between us, of course they had to call it something else to not lose the approval of all the chocolate purists 😉 ). That is how this tart was born, still chocolaty, really chocolaty and very rich, but with a special twist.
Disclaimer #2: the use of term Gianduja is a “poetic licence” that I took, I apologize if this tart does not fulfil completely the criteria of the traditional Giuanduja.
Although the chocolate still plays the main part in this recipe, the hazelnuts cut through the sharp bitterness making the whole thing mellower but without adding any extra sweet. This is why, I believe, this combination of flavour has been so popular since ever. In Italy, the best version of this marriage between chocolate and hazelnuts is called Gianduja, creation of patissiers from the Piedmont region and its best representation are the yummy Gianduiotti, small chocolates with their unique triangle shape, a “must try” for anybody who stops by in Turin and surroundings.
So, when I made up this recipe, I just thought it would make sense to call it like that; I am sure I am not the first one to have use this term; after all, as delicious as it is, and as much as I really made this recipe myself through several trials and errors, I certainly cannot claim I have invented something completely unique that nobody had ever made before. I just do not really know if the traditional Gianduja has some very specific characteristics and I hope I used the word appropriately.
Disclaimer #3: although generally simple, this recipe has one or two tricky bits that might require some practice, don’t get discouraged if the first attempt doesn’t come out as neat as expected, practice will help you to get a great result.
The first thing to pay attention to is the pastry. The addition of coarsely ground nuts will add extra fat and greasiness to a recipe that is already very buttery. Make sure you add the nuts from the very beginning, with the rest of the dry ingredients and make sure they are rubbed and mixed thoroughly before adding the butter. Make sure that the butter too is mixed very well into the flour, the finer the mix, the crumblier the pastry. And remember to not heat the pastry while working it!
Then there is the chocolate and hazelnuts ganache. For it to be not too rich and heavy it should be not too solid, just set. It is not supposed to be a mousse but it will be cooked slightly in the oven like a custard and if it the ratio chocolate/cream is too high or the ganache is too cooked it will become very dry and pasty. Don’t worry to make it too soft, if needed you can try a couple of time to get the perfect texture, even if you mess up and make it not set enough it will still be yummy. The recipe is quite accurate, but you could get different results based on the cream or on the chocolate you use. Of course, the cooking is important too, make sure you take the tart out when the ganache still wobbles well in the middle.
Finally, the addition of the hazelnuts meringues. I thought of that to not get the egg whites of the ganache to waste, but, actually, their crunchiness works very well with the other components and it is a great mean for you to get some fancy decoration (better than mine probably). Just remember to add them only just before eating: if you put them in contact with the ganache, which after all is very wet and full of moist, from crunchy and dry, they will become spongy and soggy.
I made this last time almost exactly a year ago, for a very special occasion, the second round of my old lab’s bake-off competition. That version had the meringues broken and sprinkled at the last minute (errors are good as long as you learn from them!). This tart won me that round, although I did not win at the end (can you believe it?!?! 🙂 ), but that really did not matter, it was one of the greatest “non work” things that I remember of my former colleague and job, and it was a great thing to do in the last few months with them, maybe that is also why I love this tart so much!
Have a lovely Sunday 🙂
For the Ganache:
500ml single cream
225g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)
150g hazelnut paste
3 medium egg yolks
A pinch of salt
For the top
100g white chocolate
3 medium egg whites
175g icing sugar
175g ground hazelnuts
First prepare the pastry base. Mix the dry ingredient, including the nuts in a big bowl. Add the butter in small cubes and rub them thoroughly to obtain a crumbly mixture. Add the egg yolks and work the paste with a knife first and then with your hands just enough to get the pastry to hold together. Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll it to the thickness about of pound coin, line a loose bottom tart tin with it, and cool back in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Cover with baking paper and beads and bake in the oven at 170C for about 20-25 minutes or until the baking paper doe not stick to it anymore. Take from the oven, remove the paper and beads and brush with the egg was. Put back in the oven at 150C for 5 minutes until the egg wash has dried through, remove from the oven and cool slightly.
For the ganache, warm up the cream almost to boil, add the chocolate in small pieces and stir until the chocolate is fully melted. Add the hazelnut paste the salt and let the mixture cool slightly, whisk the egg yolks and add them to the ganache while keep stirring. When the mixture has reached an homogeneous consistency, place the pastry shell in the oven still at 150C and pour the ganache in the pastry base. Bake for about 30 minutes (that will really depends form your oven) or until the edge of the filling are starting to set but the middle still wobbles. Switch off the oven, let the tart in it for another 5 minutes and then take off and cool, first at room temperature and when lukewarm in the fridge.
For the decoration make the meringue. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks and start adding slowly the sugar, keep mixing at high speed. When all the sugar is incorporated add the ground nuts by delicately folding then with a metallic spoon. Bake the meringue at 100C for 2-3 hours and cool. Use it to decorate the cold tart with the melted white chocolate by poured with a small spoon or a small piping bag.