Le Gavroche’s Warm Dark Chocolate Tart with Einkorn Crust
Photos by Greg Nesbit Photography
What’s the deal with “secret recipes”? Not only is the concept morally unsound to me, but it’s completely redundant: if no one ever shared great recipes, where would we be today? Isn’t the very root of the word recipe “to receive”?? Also it’s frankly absurd: if someone really wants your recipe, go ahead and give it to them (now with enough searching you can find anything on the internet, anyway!) Are recipe-hoarders worried that someone is going to make it better? I love the concept coined by Elizabeth Zimmerman in reference to knitting: every recipe has been “unvented” — someone, somewhere, must have done it before. A recipe request is really the ultimate compliment, so everyone should just take it that way and get over it.
When I have a great recipe, from any source or of my own devising, I can’t help going on about it (just ask anyone who’s ever worked in the kitchen with me! I’m pretty unsupportable about it. When something’s bad, I’m the first one to say it, but when it’s good, it’s really good and worth bragging about!). I’m not the biggest chocolate fan, so when I find a chocolate recipe that even I consider irresistible, then I figure it really must be good. The Warm Dark Chocolate Tart is my ultimate chocolate recipe, and it was hard-won, making me that much happier to share it.
I made this tart every day for several months while working in London’s 2-Michelin starred Le Gavroche (twice a day, in fact, since it had to be baked at precisely 12 noon for lunch service and 7pm for dinner service, then presented to our chef, Michel Roux Jr., for approval). This beautiful and justly renowned restaurant was really the formative place for Franck as he developed his skills as a chef; he spent 5 years there, and I spent one year as pastry chef. We both consider ourselves lucky, despite the stress of the job itself, to have worked for a chef with such intense energy, talent, charm and intelligence. The discipline required to succeed at the job, as well as the skill and concentration to master the recipes themselves, have stood us in good stead in our work ever since. Though our chef was from an iconic culinary family, we still managed to speak a similar language of food with him and to develop close working relationships.
When Chef Michel gave me this recipe to produce for the restaurant he couldn’t help praising it himself. He had developed it while in search of the perfect chocolate tart, something which had been eluding me for some time as well. Though he is known for his marathon-running, and used his afternoon break during his 15-hr + workday to exercise, Chef Michel has an infamous sweet tooth, and it’s largely why we got along so well. He loved it when I’d make him some American sweets, especially peanut butter cookies and brownies, and in this way we exchanged recipes (the way that you’re meant to do!). His decadent tart itself almost feels like the most intensely-flavored and lightest chocolate soufflé you ever tasted, surrounded by a crisp and buttery pastry shell. Einkorn flour makes an incredibly tender and crisp dough with a delicate, slightly nutty flavor that perfectly complements the chocolate and butter in the recipe. Just be sure to pre-bake the dough all the way before you add the filling, so that it’s crunchy and delicious the way that Chef Michel intended it to be!
First, make the Pate Sucrée (Sweet Tart Dough). This recipe can easily be made with regular flour instead of Einkorn, but the nutty taste of Einkorn really makes the most delicious tart dough!
Makes enough for 4 11” tarts (I use fluted pans with a removable base).
3 1/3 c (500 g) Einkorn (or all-purpose) Flour
2 ¼ c (250 g) sugar
1 t (5 g) salt
3 large eggs
250 g soft butter
- Cream the butter, salt and sugar fluffy with the flat beater of a stand mixer or a strong arm with a wooden spatula. Add the eggs one at a time to create an emulsion. Add the flour in 3 additions, working gently and mixing minimally to combine with each addition. Divide finished dough into 4 and pat into flat rounds. Wrap each separately and freeze for future quick and easy tart-making happiness!
Warm Dark Chocolate Tart
Really good dark chocolate is one of the secrets to success with this recipe. I don’t use chocolate with less than 65% cocoa content, so that the tart isn’t too sweet.
Makes 1 11” tart
8.3 oz (280g) Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
6 ¼ oz (188g) sweet butter
2 whole large eggs
½ c (95g) sugar
- Line an 11” fluted tart pan with Pate Sucrée and let chill/rest (I like to do this the day before, but ½ hr of resting is fine, particularly with Einkorn flour which has such low gluten content, it doesn’t tend to shrink when baked). Preheat oven to 400F, then line pan with parchment paper, baking beans, and pre-bake until fully cooked (lightly browned and doesn’t smell raw). I like to remove the beans after about 10 minutes so that the base gets nicely cooked through. When fully baked, perhaps another 8-10 minutes after removing the beans, set base aside and lower oven temperature to 300F in order to bake the complete tart.
- Make your chocolate filling: Place the butter in a saucepan and cover with a heat-proof bowl with the chocolate in it (use a pot and a compatibly-sized heat-proof bowl that fits over it and doesn’t allow the burner flames to scorch the chocolate). Place over low heat to melt the butter and start melting the chocolate. When the butter is melted, pour over chocolate to finish melting, and whisk together. This is my preferred way to melt butter and chocolate (the most heavenly of combinations…if it were a perfume I’d dab it behind my ears!). If you prefer another way, go for it, just get the job done!
- Meanwhile, make your sabayon (fluffy eggs and sugar mixture.) Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (if doing by hand, get a pot of water simmering on the stove and a heat-proof bowl that fits over it and doesn’t allow the burner flames to scorch it, either. Also have a nice sized whisk and a glass of water handy. It’s hard work, but worth it for this amazing tart!). Add the sugar and begin to whisk on high speed. This is where a blow-torch comes in handy! Warm the bowl with the torch, moving it constantly so as not to cook the eggs. When the bowl feels warm to the touch after removing the flame, then allow egg mixture to whisk itself cold. (If doing by hand, take the bowl off of the water pan when the mixture is warm to the touch, then whisk it until cold, approximately tripled in volume and super-fluffy) A good, strong sabayon is the secret to the texture of this tart and the heat is what makes that strength. If you don’t have a blowtorch, place your eggs (whole, in shells!) in hot water for a few minutes before cracking them to warm them, or start with room-temperature eggs.
- Combine your gorgeous, fluffy sabayon with the chocolate and butter. Fold together (don’t stir! Keep all that beautiful air in!) until just combined. Gently pour into baked tart shell and place immediately in the 300F oven. Bake for 10 minutes. The surface will look dry and not starting to crack or soufflé (remove from oven at the first sign of this). Tart can be cut with a hot, clean knife when still warm, or you can make the tart ahead, chill it, and cut it easily with that same warm, clean knife (dip in hot water and wipe between cuts if you don’t have a blowtorch!). Then just heat slices for 4 minutes in a hot 375-400 oven. Though the texture is light, the flavor is really rich, so I like to serve the tart with some fresh berries, berry sauce and whipped cream or ice cream.