Today, 28 October 2023, is National Chocolate Day. It seems that we are always celebrating chocolate in some form, but hey – we’re not complaining. This recipe is courtesy of former Club Coupe du Monde USA Team Member (1995 & 1997-Silver Medal) Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer. It’s featured in his cookbook “The Art of French Pastry,” which he co-wrote with Martha Rose Schulman.
According to Chef Pfeiffer, although there are three separate components to this tart, however, the three recipes have just a few ingredients and the instructions are relatively straight-forward.
This tart holds a special place in Chef Pfeiffer’s household, and we’re confident it will find a cherished spot in your culinary collection too.
Before You Begin
- You will need to make the pâte sablée and the chocolate nougatine crisp one day in advance.
- Allow the tart to set for at least two hours in a cool place.
Pâte Sablée Recipe
Yield: Two 9″ tarts
|Unsalted butter (preferably French/European style with 82% fat)||6 oz||75 g|
|Sea salt||1/2 tsp (scant)||3 g|
|All-purpose flour||2 c + 3 Tbsp||290 g|
|Almond flour, skinless||1/3 c (rounded)||35 g|
|Confectioners’ sugar||1 cup||110 g|
|Vanilla extract (we use Nielsen-Massey)||1/2 tea||3 g|
|Egg yolks||4 to 5 ea||80 g|
Pâte Sablée Instructions
Sift the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Place the butter, sea salt, and all-purpose flour in the bowl of the mixer. Mix on low speed with the paddle until the mixture is crumbly. Do not mix longer or the gluten in the flour will start to develop and result in a rubbery dough. Add the almond flour/confectioners’ sugar mixture and mix on low speed until just mixed. Add the vanilla and egg yolks and mix on medium speed until it just comes together.
Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Press it into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle and refrigerate overnight.
Roll out the dough and line your tart pan or ring. Cover in plastic wrap and place back in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Prebake (or blind baking) the Pâte Sablée:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit/160 degrees Celsius. The low oven temperature will allow all of the water to evaporate and result in a flaky crust. Line the dough with parchment paper making sure it covers the entire diameter of the dough. Place pie weights on top. You can use pie weights, rice, or beans. Use pie weights for the first 15 minutes of baking. Carefully remove the parchment paper with the weights and set aside. Return the pie shell to the oven and bake for 5 to 15 minutes until the shell is dry and an even light brown color. Remove and cool. Set aside.
Keep the oven on as you will need it to briefly bake the pie again.
Chocolate Nougatine Crisp Recipe
|Cocoa powder (we use Valrhona)||1 Tbsp||5 g|
|Whole Milk||1 Tbsp + 1/4 tea||15 g|
|Unsalted butter (French or European butter – high fat 82%)||1 oz||30 g|
|Corn syrup||1 Tbsp||15 g|
|Granulated sugar||1/4 cup||50 g|
|Pectin||1/4 tea||1 g|
|Sliced almonds||1/2 cup (scant)||50 g|
Chocolate Nougatine Crisp Instructions
Place a sheet pan in the freezer.
Sift the Valrhona cocoa powder.
Place a silpat on your work surface.
Combine the milk, butter, and corn syrup in a small saucepan and begin heating over low heat.
Mix the granulated sugar with the pectin and very gradually whisk it into the milk mixture. Insert a thermometer and continue to whisk over low heat until the mixture reaches 222 degrees Fahrenheit or 106 degrees Celsius. This should take about two minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for two minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the cocoa powder and sliced almonds.
Pour the mixture on to the silpat and spread it into a thin, even layer. Place a second silpat on top and using a rolling pin, gently roll the mixture to insure it is thin and even. Gradually press down harder until the mixture is as thin as the almonds. You should see the sliced almonds through the silpat. Take the pan out of the freezer and place the silpat with the almonds on it and return back to the freezer for 30 minutes.
While the almond mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius. Remove the sheetpan from the freezer, peel off the top silpat, and place the sheetpan in the oven. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. To determine if the nougatine is done, remove a small amount of the crisp with a spatula and place it on the countertop or a dish. When you’re doing this move quickly so you do not leave the oven door open too long and drop the temperature of the oven. Let the crisp cool completely for one minute and then taste it. It should be very crunchy and not stick to your teeth. If it does, bake for another three minutes and test again until the right consistency is achieved.
Remove the nougatine from the oven and let cool completely – approximately 15 minutes. The crisp should be shiny and the almonds golden brown. Weigh out half the crisp and store the remainder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If you have silica gel packets, place those in the container as well and it will help keep the nougatine dry.
Chocolate Tart Filling Recipe
|Dark chocolate (65%), bar chopped or feves/coins (We recommend Valrhona Manjari or Caraïbe)||5 3/5 ounces||160 g|
|Whole eggs, extra large||1 ea||50 g|
|Whole milk (3.5%)||2 Tbsp||25 g|
|Heavy cream (35%)||2/3 cup||150 g|
|Whole milk (3.5%)||1/4 cup||50 g|
Chocolate Tart Filling Instructions
Have your pre-baked, cooled tart shell on a baking sheet and set aside.
If you are not using feves or coins, chop up your chocolate into approximately 1/4-inch pieces. Placed the chopped chocolate or feves in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 50 percent power for one minute. Stir with a rubber spatula for 20 seconds and microwave for another 30 seconds at 50 percent power. If necessary, microwave again at 50 percent for another 30 seconds to melt the chocolate and stir again. Insert a thermometer and stir until the chocolate reaches 113 degrees Fahrenheit/45 degrees Celsius. Place a strainer over the bowl with the melted chocolate and set aside but keep warm.
In a small mixing bowl, beat together the egg and the 25 grams of milk.
Combine the cream and the 50 grams of milk in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Make sure that it is not boiling, whisk half into the egg mixture to temper the egg. Then whisk the tempered egg back into the milk mixture, scraping all of it out of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Return the saucepan to low heat and insert a thermometer. Whisk constantly, making sure to whisk along the bottom and sides of the saucepan, until the mixture reaches 158 degrees Fahrenheit/70 degrees Celsius. This should not take more than two minutes. As soon as it reaches temperature, remove from the heat and strain the hot custard over the melted chocolate. If the mixture looks broken or separated, pout it immediately into a tall container and blend with an immersion blender for 10 seconds; using a regular blender will work as well.
Using a rubber spatula, carefully stir the chocolate and hot custard mixture from the center of the bowl out to the sides until the mixture is completely homogenized. It is important to stir and not to whip so that you don’t incorporate unnecessary bubbles into the custard.
When the mixture is homogenized, pour it into the pre-baked sablée shell and place it in the preheated oven. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, until you see the sides become thicker and slightly more set than the middle. The middle will look liquid when you remove the tart from the oven, but during the cooling process, it will thicken due to the solids and fat from the dairy and chocolate.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
Cover the entire surface of the tart with pieces of nougatine crisp and place in a cool room for 2 hours. Serve at room temperature. If you do not have a cool place to put the baked tart, allow it to cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 1 hour before placing the nougatine on top. Remove from the refrigerator, cover with the nougatine crisp and serve. Do NOT refrigerate again.
The shelf life of this tart is 2 days, but the best way to enjoy it is to make it and eat it the same day so that the tart is never refrigerated, this will ensure a rich and creamy custard. Refrigerating it will set the fat crystals very hard and the custard will lose some of its creamy texture. If you must refrigerate this tart, do not top with the nougatine crisp, as it will get soggy in the refrigerator. Whenever you plan on serving it, let it come to room temperature for 2 hours without the nougatine crisp and then place it in a 400 degree Fahrenheit/200 degree Celsius oven for 30 seconds only. This will slightly soften the upper layer of the custard so that you can stick the nougatine crisp on top.
Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer’s book, “The Art of French Pastry” is available for sale at bookstores and online. Click here for Chef Pfeiffer’s ultimate vanilla ice cream recipe. He can be followed on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
Feature Image: Paul Strabbing