I’ve been wanting to do a series of different versions of the same bake and everything seemed to come together all at once. I found another one of my reduced bargains from Marks and Spencer and it was ready rolled shortcrust pastry for 80p and it tied in perfectly with the arrival of my Food Thoughts Cacao Powder and Food Thoughts Cacao Nibs, allowing me to Explore Chocolate Tarts!
Food Thoughts Cacao Nibs are made from Fino de Aroma beans that are gently roasted to ensure they maintain essential nutrients such as iron and magnesium. Food Thoughts Cacao Powder is non-alkalised and sundried naturally making it a rich source of flavanols (which promote healthy blood flow) and anti-oxidants (which reduce the effect of free radicals in your body).
Here’s the science: our body naturally produces free radicals, which are substances consisting of one or more unpaired electrons. They are produced by respiration, inflamed areas of the body and even during exercise. Free radicals take electrons from proteins in the body to complete their electron pairs, leaving behind more free radicals causing a chain reaction. Free radicals cause cells to die as they collect in the cell membranes, eventually making them brittle and leaky. Poor cell performance can lead to tissue degradation and an increased risk of disease.
Antioxidants are a source of electrons for the free radicals but do not become free radicals themselves. They give your cells defense against these reactive oxygen species and can improve your skin health dramatically as well as repair damaged molecules and protect DNA from radical attacks.
Both products will be fantastic in your baking and I thoroughly recommend them!
The first chocolate tart recipe I’m sharing is my Chocolate Brownie Tart. It’s a shortcrust pastry base with a fantastically dense chocolate brownie filling which is sticky and chewy too.
The brownie is made by the melting method and couldn’t be any easier! What’s more, this same batter can also be used to make chocolate fondants, the wonderfully gooey and runny chocolate puddings. The use of cacao powder in this tart intensifies the chocolate flavour and a tiny amount of Himalayan salt in the batter adds to this flavour. I blind baked this pastry because even though the brownie batter is baked, it’s for such a short period of time that the pastry would remain underbaked so blind baking prevents that soggy bottom!
But the most important bit of getting your tarts perfect right is lining the tins with pastry. Always cut out a section of pastry larger than the tart tin and lift it vertically upwards so that it starts to go right down to the base and start to manipulate the pastry into the tin. Use a small ball of pastry to push and gently adhere the pastry into the flutes and roll a rolling pin across the top of the tin so the pastry cuts off by the flutes. You can then check the pastry is right down into the bottom and then dock your pastry with a fork (pricking the base).
Lastly line your tart tins with foil well; by this I mean so that it takes the actual shape which will help to prevent the pastry rising too much, allowing you to get the delicious brownie filling in. I have a tub full of my blind baking rice which I have used to blind bake for nearly 2 years!
1 pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
75g dark chocolate (I used 56%)
45g plain flour
Pinch of Himalayan salt
5 tsp Food Thoughts Cacao Powder
Roasted hazelnuts, chopped finely to finish
Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Fill your tart tins with the pastry as detailed above, rerolling any excess to the same thickness. Any gaps in your pastry can be patched up with the pastry. Line with foil as above and fill with weights.
Place the tarts into the preheated oven and turn the temperature down to 180˚C and bake blind for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, remove the foil and weights and return to the oven for 5 minutes until the base is slightly golden.
Meanwhile prepare the brownie mixture by melting the margarine with the sugar and the chocolate either in a pan or in the microwave in 30 second blasts. Once it is all melted together, sift in the flour, salt and cacao powder and beat until it thickens. Then beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
When the tart cases are out of the oven, pour in the brownie batter and shake to level out. It won’t rise too much so you can fill it almost to the top. Bake the tarts with the brownie for 10 minutes and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before lifting out of the cases to cool fully.
Finish the tart by topping with some of the chopped roasted hazelnuts and serving with ice cream and fresh fruit.