Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Tart
I wish I could say that I had the privilege to eat this tart all throughout my youth. I’d tell you about all the countless celebrations and gatherings we had, when I was a child, where I would eat a slice or two or three of this incredible dessert. It would be the centerpiece of all our parties and everyone would talk about it for days on end. We’d be the toast of the town and the kids in the neighborhood would be jealous of me because I got to enjoy this tart all the time. Like everyday, all the time. I wish I could say that this here tart was the very essence of my childhood existence. This chocolate espresso hazelnut tart in particular is what made me a chocolate lover from way back when. The sad thing is that I can’t say any of those things. I can’t share those stories with you. I can’t even say I knew what a chocolate espresso hazelnut tart was. I was oblivious as a kid. If it wasn’t in the form of chocolate chip cookies, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I didn’t really eat this tart growing up, what can I say? I was deprived as a child of life’s wonderful chocolatey pleasures. But not really because I still had other delicious desserts. See? I just saved myself from my mother’s wrath. I’m sure she’ll read this and say “You WERE NOT deprived as a child!” Okay so I wasn’t deprived. I’m sure I still enjoyed countless of chocolate desserts as a kid. I don’t recall this, but let’s just say I did for argument’s sake and my mother’s sake. The point is I didn’t have this chocolate dessert and that makes me sad. You should feel sad for me right now. Feel sad for yourself, while you’re at it, because maybe you didn’t have this chocolate espresso hazelnut tart either. What kind of lives were we living? Okay now that the feeling sad moment has passed, let’s not be sad anymore because the most important thing is that I finally did experience this delicious treat when I grew older and now you can too.
I won’t fill you in on all the boring details as to how I finally came across one of the most delicious chocolate desserts I’ve ever made and ate. That’s not important. I won’t tell you about how my eyes were opened and now there’s no point in eating any other chocolate tart after this one. You’ll see that for yourself. I will tell you that now you can make this tart all the time and have it be the centerpiece of all your celebrations and gatherings and parties. You can tell me about all the occasions you had where you ate a piece or two or three of this delicious dessert. Tell me about how so many people talk about this chocolate treat for days on end. People can now be jealous of you. It can be the very essence of your adulthood existence. This here chocolate espresso hazelnut tart, in particular, can be what has made you a chocolate lover, if you weren’t already one. Now, doesn’t that sound wonderful? All that power one little (okay big) chocolate tart has. If that doesn’t convince you to make it, I don’t know what will my friends. I don’t know what will.
We’re starting off this recipe with the crust.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, right from the start…Crust is the best thing on the planet. We’d all be better friends if we’d just collectively admitted that fact out loud, for everyone to hear. Crust is amazing. Crust is delicious. What’s the point of the fillings and toppings really? Just give me large quantities of golden brown, baked crust and I’d be the happiest person on the planet. No, the universe. The most malnourished person? Um yeah, most definitely, but who cares? I’d be happy, I’m eating nothing but crust for crying out loud! Don’t feel sorry for me, be jealous! I’m a crust-eating maniac.
So to make crust, we need crust things.
Flour is definitely required. It’s one of the main crust things. Dump some all-purpose flour into a large bowl.
We’re doing this whole crust making business by hand today, so try not to be too shocked by it. Jonathan making something by hand without the use of modern day machinery? Madness, I know.
Also throw in some sugar and salt, while you’re at it. Those are crust things too. It’s a small amount of sugar to balance everything out. I’m not the biggest fan of sweet crusts. I like my crust to be savory and buttery. It cuts the sweetness of the filling nicely.
Give the dry ingredients a mix to evenly combine.
We’re going to be using a fancy schmancy pastry cutter thingamajigger. So that’s what I’m using as a stirring device, don’t mind me.
Okay, so we’re totally going to need some butter for this. Can’t have crust without butter, am I right ladies and gentleman?
Let’s be honest for a second and just admit that we’ve never seen a more amazing sight like the one above. Oh maybe…..
Well would you look at that, another amazing sight.
Using the pastry blender (fancy kitchen tool) cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs the size of peas. The size of peas I tell ya! I just felt like saying that again. Go with me folks.
**Tip: Don’t have a pastry blender? That’s okay, you can use a fork or two knives. Or better yet, you can use your hands also! But do it quick because the heat from your hands will soften the butter fast. Warm butter and crust is not a good combination.**
Once the mixture is all coarse and crumbly and pea-sized, you are good to go. Stop. Put everything down.
It’s time to add the wet ingredients.
We’re going to need an egg yolk and a few tablespoons of ice cold (very important that it be ice cold) water.
Give it a whisk with a fork.
**Note: Save the egg white from this egg for later use in the recipe. Let’s not waste.**
Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the whisked water and yolk.
You can begin to mix the dough with a rubber spatula, that will help bring it all together.
If it is too dry and isn’t forming into a ball, add more ice water.
**Note: Only add more water a tablespoon at a time. You don’t want to add too much because you can’t take any back. No takesies backsies. This isn’t a game. This is real life folks.**
If you find that the spatula just isn’t getting the job done, I give you permission to chuck it out the window. Or throw it across the room. Hit someone with it, I don’t care. But really, maybe you shouldn’t hit someone with it. Switch on over to your hands. Best tools for it.
Get your paws into the dough and knead it together until it forms a ball, not dry and not too moist.
If Goldilocks were to pick a dough, she’d pick the one that was just right.
And this my friends is juuuuust right.
Cover the dough ball tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. It needs to chill for at least half an hour. 1 hour would be better but I know how difficult it is for me to ask you to wait for 1 whole hour, so 30 minutes will do.
And through the magic of the internets, our dough ball is ready. It is chilled. Super fast right? Almost like we just blinked or snapped our fingers and it was ready. Magic. Poof.
Lightly flour a work surface and place the chilled dough ball on top of it. Sprinkle the top and rolling pin with flour as well. Make sure nothing sticks.
Roll out the dough into a big circle about ¼ of an inch thick.
Then place it into a tart pan that has a removable bottom, it will make it easier to take the tart out later. Cut off any excess dough and make sure it’s snug on the pan and up the sides completely.
Now we need to prick the dough with a fork. Make holes all around the tart. This will allow the steam to escape and prevent the crust from puffing up while it bakes.
Then cover with a sheet of aluminum foil and top with pie weights or dry beans to weigh it down. Again, we’re just ensuring it doesn’t puff up and rise in the oven.
What we’re doing right here is blind baking. It will bake the tart without letting it get too browned or burned before it finishes baking.
Stick it into a preheated oven and allow it to bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.
After half an hour remove from the oven and take off the foil and beans (or weights). Whisk the reserved egg white from earlier, with a splash of water.
Brush the crust with the egg white, making sure to cover it completely.
**Tip: By doing this it will create a barrier for the crust, preventing it from getting soggy once we add the filling. There’s nothing I despise more than soggy crust.**
Return to the oven and finish baking for another 8 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow to cool on a wire rack. In the meantime make the filling.
Let’s start on the second best part of the tart, second to the crust of course (we established that already didn’t we?).
To make the filling we need a large bowl full of semi-sweet chocolate. You can use the good bar chocolate that you cut up into chunks or….
You can use semi-sweet chocolate chips. That’s what I had on hand so guess what, that’s what I used.
To the chocolate you are going to add hot milk and cream.
Make sure it is very hot, because we’re counting on the heat to melt the chocolate.
Pour it over the chocolate chips.
Allow that to sit, untouched. Let it be just for a few minutes. It’ll give the chocolate a chance to start melting.
Then add the rest of the ingredients. Mostly these are just flavorings. They’ll give our tart an even better taste.
You’re going to add:
Espresso powder (have I told you how well coffee brings out the chocolate flavor? Well it does, it truly does)
Cinnamon (also brings out the chocolatey flavor)
Coffee flavored liqueur (see above)
Vanilla (the real stuff)
Whisk it all up until completely smooth.
The next step is to add the eggs. We need two whole eggs.
BUT we can’t just plop the eggs in because the heat from the milk might curdle them causing the whole mixture to go bad and that would be a great tragedy, one we should speak of, let alone think about. So to prevent that we need to temper the eggs.
**Note: Tempering means to bring the eggs to the same temperature as the warm milk/chocolate mixture. To do this you need to whisk the eggs together with a bit of the warm chocolate mixture.**
Then while whisking, slowly stream in the tempered eggs. Stirring thoroughly until evenly incorporated and smooth and glossy.
You are now done with the filling. You’ve mastered the art of tempering eggs.
Resist the urge and temptation to eat the filling. Yes, it looks and smells delicious but no, no, you need to be strong. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the filling has set and doesn’t jiggle in the center. It can wiggle slightly but don’t let it jiggle.
Remove it from the oven and allow to cool down completely on a wire rack.
At some point while the tart bakes and cools, chop the hazelnuts. I like using the skinned hazelnuts, I just prefer them that way.
The nuts don’t have to be completely chopped, just do a rough run-through with your knife. Nothing has to be perfect in the kitchen, unless of course you’re making something to impress a certain someone in which case, I would suggest you cut eat hazelnut one by one. I’m kidding that would take too much time. No one is worth all that work. But maybe they are.
While the tart is still warm, sprinkle the hazelnuts all over the top of the tart. Yeah just cover it completely. Or you can keep it in the center or make a pattern or design. Get creative. But not too creative. Don’t start spelling things out. I didn’t say get carried away. I said get creative. Let’s try to contain ourselves.
And BOOM, just like that, You. Are Finished.
You have successfully made a Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Tart. Congratulate yourself.
You should give yourself a pat on the back because let’s be honest, this here sure is one fancy dessert. The kind you eat while drinking tea and raising your pinky or twirling your mustache, if you have a mustache. The kind of dessert you enjoy while wearing gloves. Nice dress-up gloves of course, we’re not animals.
And because two is always better than one, here have another picture of the finished tart.
Let the tart to cool down completely before cutting and serving. This will allow the tart to settle and firm up a while it cools. I prefer eating this tart cold for some reason so after it cools, I stick it in the fridge for a while before serving. That’s just my personal preference, I’m a weirdo what can I say?
If you really want to take this dessert over the edge (although it’s already over the top) you can serve it with a dollop, or a giant heaping amount, of fresh whipped cream. I think I’m not the only one when I say that whipped cream makes everything better.
If you are not a fan of hazelnuts—you’re missing out because one of the greatest treasures on earth is nutella made of chocolate and hazelnuts but that is beside the point right now I’m digressing—then you can swap it out for macadamia nuts. Or you can just leave out the nuts completely. That’s okay too. One of my sister’s doesn’t care for them so I tend not to bake with nuts whenever I know she’ll be eating it. I like to adapt whenever possible, that’s the fun part of cooking and baking.
This is one of my go-to desserts whenever I have a dinner party or I’m having guests over and I want to impress them. Not because I want to be like, “Oh I just whipped up this simple tart. Nothing grand.” And then they all oooh and ahhhh over it….okay that’s only a part of it, but really because it’s very tasty and a crowd pleaser. It gets the job done and shows that you cared enough to make something instead of just buying a tub of ice cream and calling it a day. Although that’s okay too because um hello it’s freaking ice cream. Who doesn’t like ice cream? Lactose intolerants I guess….let’s all take a moment and feel sorry for those folks.
I was torn between the picture above and this one below. My mom and sister didn’t like the bottom one, but I really liked it so I decided to include both. I’ll leave it up to you guys to decide for yourself.
Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Tart
The instant espresso powder really brings out the incredible flavor of the chocolate. A pinch of cinnamon and salt ties it all together perfectly. The chopped hazelnuts at the top takes it over the edge creating an intense flavor you can’t even begin to imagine. Make this tart to experience it for yourself!
Yield: about 12 slices, depending on the size you cut them
For the crust:
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons (36 grams) sugar
- ¼ teaspoon (2 grams) salt
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) (170 grams) unsalted butter, cold and diced
- 1 large egg, separated
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) ice water, plus more if needed
For the filling:
- 1 cup (250ml) heavy cream, heated
- ½ cup (125ml) whole milk, heated
- 10 ounces (280 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons (24 grams) sugar
- 1 tablespoon (12 grams) instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) coffee flavored liqueur
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon (2 grams) salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup (75 grams) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cold diced butter and cut with a fork or pastry blender. Mix until the butter breaks down and the mixture gets coarse and crumbly, about the size of peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk (saving the white in a separate bowl) with the two tablespoons of ice water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the egg yolk-ice water mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula and mix until the dough comes together and forms a ball. If it is too dry add more water, a tablespoon at a time until it forms a ball. You can knead it with your hands to bring it together faster. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap with plastic. Place in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 3o minutes, an hour would be best.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the chilled dough into a large circle about ¼ of an inch thick. Carefully place the rolled dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure to press the dough evenly up the sides, cutting the excess dough hanging over. Cover with aluminum foil and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Place on a sturdy baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and discard the foil. Whisk the reserved egg white with a splash of water. Brush the warm tart, evenly, with the egg white. Return to the oven and bake for another 8 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a rack.
3. To make filling, add the chocolate chips into a large bowl. Pour the heated cream and milk over the chocolate and let it stand, untouched, for a few minutes. Then add the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, coffee liqueur, vanilla and salt. Whisk until completely smooth and glossy. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and a few tablespoons of the warm chocolate mixture (this will temper the eggs making sure they don’t curdle once you add them). Slowly stream in the eggs, while whisking vigorously, into the chocolate mixture. Continue to whisk until the filling is smooth and glossy. Pour the filling into the cooled crust (it might appear not to fit but it will). Return the tart to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the filling has set and doesn’t jiggle when the tart is lightly shaken. Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving. Cut and serve or you can cover the tart with plastic and store in the fridge until ready to eat. Will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Enjoy!