Tarte Au Chocolat (French Chocolate Tart) 
By Jen Sommerness

When thinking of a great dessert, especially for Valentine’s Day, my thoughts instantly go to chocolate. I am convinced this recipe is one that you will fall in love with.

The day that I learned this recipe, I was at a cooking class in Paris all day, and my husband and I also had plans to go out for dinner and to the Opera to celebrate our anniversary – which was why we were in the “City of Love” to begin with. I remember the day, because it was pouring rain, I became disoriented and lost on my way back to the hotel from my class, and was running very late. Despite the fact that I needed to get ready for our special evening in a quick fashion, while my husband anxiously awaited for me to be ready, I had one saving grace – a single leftover slice of this tart for him to eat while he waited. Needless to say, it was so good that he appreciated every bite, and we made it to our reservation on time.  

Paris is by far my favorite place on the planet to be, and this recipe is one of the things I think of when I think of my special times spent there. I have twice had the fabulous opportunity to take a very personal cooking class and culinary walking tour with Paule Caillat, of Promenades Gourmandes. On this anniversary trip, where I learned her family recipe for this tart au chocolat, we had spent the day going to the local market and cheese shops, where she taught me about ingredients and culture; to her home to cook a classic French menu together with the groceries we purchased; and to eat a lovely lunch that was perfectly paired with wine from her personal sommelier who came to have lunch with us.

Following our lunch, Paule and I went to many local world-renowned establishments, one of which was the original Boulangerie Poilâne, where I received a personal tour of the kitchen and was able to watch a master bread baker at his craft. 

That day was magical, as was the next time I went back to Paris and spent another full day with Paule. She shares many wonderful things throughout the day about what it means to be French, to live, eat and cook in Paris, and not least of all, she shares her family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. If you have the chance, I highly recommend you seeking her out for her incredible expertise, her personality, and her understanding of French culture.

This recipe is one that you will enjoy, I am positive. Additionally, I hope you enjoy the all the love that comes with it. Whether you make it for Valentine’s Day for your special someone, or any other occasion, this recipe from the “City of Love” is outstanding.

Tarte Au Chocolat Adapted from Paule Caillat
For 8 servings / 8 1/2" tart pan (I use a non-stick one with a removable bottom)

Ma Pate Sucree (The Caillat Family Crust)
3 oz. unsalted butter (I use Plugrâ, as it is comparable to French butter)
Unbleached all-purpose flour (this is added by the spoonful, not measured)
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a glass, oven-safe bowl, add the butter, oil, water, salt and sugar. Place the bowl in the hot oven for approximately 15 minutes, until the mixture reaches a boiling point, and the butter starts to brown slightly.
Remove the bowl from oven. Add the flour quickly with a large spoon, and stir into the butter mixture, until it forms a ball. Keep adding flour, one spoonful at a time, until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. It should hold together, but not be overly dry (it should be a very soft dough).

With your hand, carefully spread the dough evenly in the tart pan, pressing slightly until it runs up the sides of the pan. Pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork about 6 times, so that it does not have bubbles when baked. Go around the sides of the tart pan, with the back of the fork – pressing the dough all the way around the pan, and further fluting the edges.
Bake at 400° F for 10 to 15 minutes. The crust should be light brown and show fine cracks.
Remove carefully from oven, and it is ready for filling. 
*** The same crust works equally as well for savory tarts and quiches, just omit the sugar! ***

Tarte Au Chocolat Adapted from Paule Caillat

For 8 servings (8 1/2" shell)
7 oz. bitter chocolate (I use Valrhona or Ghirardelli 72%)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the chocolate into very small pieces. Bring the whipping cream and the milk to a simmer, remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring gently until the chocolate has melted.
Whisk the egg with a fork in a small bowl, and then add to the chocolate mixture, stir well until the mixture is smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared crust, and spread evenly.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes. Decorate the cooled tart with raspberries or chocolate shavings before serving.

Wine Pairing by Jim Schwabe

If you are a traditionalist, then Champagne is undoubtedly the choice for you. But for those more adventurous ones, it’s well known that chocolate and Cabernet are wonderful complements. This combination is especially true for semi-sweet chocolate deserts where the chocolate flavor is king, such as this delicious tarte. Our own Baccarossa Cabernet Sauvignon is a perfect match. It’s well-balanced with strong tannins and tastes delightful with this tarte.

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Tarte Au Chocolat (French Chocolate Tarte)
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