This remarkable crust barely shrinks in the pan, so there is no need to weight or even prick it before baking. To ensure that the bottom remains crunchy, bake the crust fully, to a deep golden brown before pouring in the filling. At the same time I was playing with my new tart crust, I was experimenting with different cocoas, tasting and comparing natural and Dutch-process in all kinds of recipes. Voila, rich warm cocoa custard in the simplest crust.
Special equipment: A 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan wit removable bottom.—Alice Medrich
For the crust
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
For the filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (such as Medaglia d’Oro), or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee crystals
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Make the crust
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. Mix the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the flour and mix just until well blended. Don’t worry if the dough seems too soft. Press all of the dough very thinly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown.
Make the filling
1. Place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and cream in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is blended and smooth and begins to simmer around the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the espresso powder and vanilla.
2. Just before the crust is ready, whisk the egg thoroughly into the hot chocolate mixture.
3. Pour the filling into the hot crust and turn off the oven. Leave the tart in the oven until it quivers like tender Jell-O in the center when the pan is nudged, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.
4. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.
Chocolate Note: Either natural or Dutch-process cocoa works well here. The former has a livelier, more complex, fruity flavor, while the latter has a cozy old-fashioned flavor reminiscent of chocolate pudding. You choose.
Recipe © 2003 Alice Medrich. All rights reserved.