Monday, August 21, 2006

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Turkey is the world's leading hazelnut producer. In fact, the majority of the population in Turkey's Black Sea region make their living from hazelnuts. This year, Turkey's production exceeded the world demand which caused the prices to plummet: a disastrous situation for many hazelnut growers. In an effort to encourage hazelnut consumption within the country, Turkish food bloggers started to post hazelnut recipes. I tried this delicious tart from Francois Payard's Simply Sensational Desserts for this joint effort, and intend to post more hazelnut recipes in the weeks to come. If you'd like to try these but hazelnuts are difficult to come by where you live, you can probably substitute almonds..

This tart was easy to prepare and a delight to eat. The milk chocolate did not overpower the toasted hazelnuts and was a perfect foil for them. I should note one thing, though. Payard's measurements were for a 9 1/2" tart pan, and that's what I used. However, when I compared my tart to the picture in the book, it seemed that I had less of everything. Payard's caramel layer looked thicker, and his tart was covered completely (and very attractively) with chocolate cream piped in spirals. My chocolate cream ran out in the midst of decoration, and even the half extra batch I whipped up did not seem enough to complete the job to my satisfaction. So I gave up on spirals of cream idea and settled for milk chocolate curls. I'll give you my adjusted quantities for the cream; if you'd also like more of the caramel layer (which was absolutely delicious), you may need an adjustment there as well.

  • 1 1/2 c toasted and skinned hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 oz finely chopped milk chocolate
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c plus 2 tbs heavy cream
  • A 9 1/2 " prebaked tart shell
  • 7 oz finely chopped milk chocolate
  • 7/8 c heavy cream
  • Milk chocolate curls and chopped hazelnuts to decorate
Combine 1 1/2 c whole hazelnuts, honey and 1 1/2 oz milk chocolate pieces in a bowl.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and salt. Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves. At that point, stop stirring and let cook until the mixture caramelizes. (Although the book said this may take 5 to 7 minutes, in my case it happened much faster.) Turn off the eat, stand back and slowly pour in the (1/4 c +2 tbs) cream. Stir with a wooden spoon, turn the heat back on to low, and cook stirring until the mixture is completely smooth.

Pour the hot caramel into the bowl with the hazelnuts, honey and milk chocolate. Stir to coat the nuts and melt milk chocolate pieces. Distribute the caramelly nuts evenly into the prebaked pastry shell and let cool.

Melt 7 oz milk chocolate pieces using your method of choice. Beat 7/8 c cream until soft peaks begin to form. Fold in the warm chocolate just until combined. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" plain tip with the chocolate cream and pipe it in a spiral starting from the edge and working your way towards the center. Make sure that the whole tart is covered. Decorate the center with milk chocolate curls if you so desire. Enjoy!