Well. I don’t know what to say, other than to insist that although I’m adding another chocolate dessert to the recipe catalog, I am not a chocoholic. I swear.
As I’ve explained, it’s not that I dislike chocolate; it’s just that I don’t crave it all the time. However, there are some days that demand it, where nothing — nothing — but chocolate will do. Today it is cold and rainy, my husband is out of town (and potentially heading to India), and I have a nasty case of stomach cramps. Today is a day for chocolate.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pop Cat on a Hot Tin Roof into my DVD player and curl up on the couch with a blanket and some hot cocoa. In the meantime, make this recipe. You won’t be sorry.
Chocolate Cream Pie with an Oatmeal Shortbread Crust
Adapted from The Olives Dessert Table
Use the best chocolate you can find for the chocolate filling (the recipe recommends Valrhona Manjari). Also, I decided to play up the salt in the crust by sprinkling the unbaked shell with a pinch of fleur de sel. I kept going back and forth as to whether or not I thought this worked (I really liked it, but I couldn’t tell what my guests thought), so this is totally optional, and the tart would still be excellent without it.
The picture above is of an individual tart shell, but when I make this I usually do one large tart. You can go either way.
Chocolate Cream Filling
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Place the sugar cornstarch and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Add 1/4 cup milk and mix until it forms a smooth paste. Add the egg yolks and mix until combined.
Place the butter, vanilla and chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the remaining 4 1/4 cups milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Slowly pour the milk over the egg yolk mixture, a bit at a time so as not to cook the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the pot, making sure you scrape the sides of the mixing bowl. Discard the solids.
Bring the mixture just back to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly (do not allow to boil too vigorously or the custard will separate).
Pour the hot milk-egg mixture through a strainer into the bowl with the chocolate, vanilla and butter. Set aside for 5 minutes, then stir gently until well combined.
Pour into a shallow 6-8 cup container with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the custard. Refrigerate at least 8 hours and no more than 2 days.
Oatmeal Shortbread Shell
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (optional)
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until creamed. Add the oats, flour and salt and mix until just combined. Gather dough together, flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Have ready either one 10-inch tart pan (or springform pan) or 12 3- to 4-inch mini tart pans.
For one large tart, roll the dough out using sharp but firm strokes until the dough is a half inch larger than the tart shell. For smaller tarts, divide the dough into 12 portions and roll out into 12 disks a half inch larger than the mini tart pans. Place the dough into the tart pan(s), and gently press into the bottom and sides, being sure to press into the “corners” of the pan between the sides and the bottom. Roll a rolling pin over the top to trim the excess dough. (Save the trimmings — you can form them into disks and bake them at 350ºF for 12-15 minutes; once they’ve cooled, crumble them up for a garnish.)
Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line the dough with aluminum foil and top with a heavy layer of rice, beans or pie weights. Transfer to the oven and bake for 14 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and sprinkle with fleur de sel if you’re using it. Continue baking for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned (mine took more like 8 minutes).
Allow the crust to cool completely before filling with the chocolate cream filling. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and cookie crumbles.
Yield: One 10-inch tart (~8-10 servings), or 12 mini tartlets