I eat chocolate in some way, shape, or form everyday. I’m known to top off my lunches with a small chocolate treat. At night, a square of 85% dark soothes my stomach after a day’s eating. I find the taste of straight dark chocolate to be divine — toe-curling, even — in its rich, fruity complexity. I love that perfectly tempered, snappy milk chocolate melts into creamy submission once it touches your lips. It’s difficult to savor; it’s gone in an instant. And sure, some white “chocolate” can be cloying on its own, but its high cocoa butter content makes it a luxurious pairing with more piquant ingredients.
But, no, I’m not a “chocoholic.”
Chocolate wants to be the norm, synonymous with dessert itself. It wants to overshadow other desserts in the bakery case. It wants to slyly insert itself into your breakfast – whether it be by way of croissant, oatmeal, or muffin — and make you forget the beauty of those things on their own or with other adornments like nuts or dried fruit. I simply enjoy chocolate baked goods better if I make them once in a while. When I do, the desserts can be rich, they can be decadent, they can be gut busting. But when every meal ends with the proverbial “molten chocolate cake,” it just isn’t special anymore, and I certainly never want to find myself deeming chocolate boring.
So, around this time every year (depending on the weather), I say goodbye to chocolate baked goods. I embrace the farmers’ markets and peruse the produce aisles. I find ways to use up the end pieces of my winter storage of chocolate and then only buy as necessary until I say hello to my fickle lover again in December. Beautiful citrus continues to paint my days, rhubarb’s tart embrace is a spring joy, berries eventually brighten my birthday month, sticky stone fruits accompany hot summer nights outside, and fall is sprinkled with apples, pumpkins, and spice.
This year, chocolate went out in a BIG way. This Chocolate Pistachio Tart looked me straight in the eyes, challenging, “try to forget me now, sucker,” and all I could do was give in to its straight-shooting allure. A salty, deep chocolate crust – let’s not play, a giant chocolate shortbread cookie – is studded with crunchy pistachios. It’s spread with a paste of sugar, salt, and pistachios that has a deeply roasted flavor that brings out the nut’s complexity – a certain something that so many pistachio flavored desserts lack. A mere slick is potent. The most substantial layer is a glassy smooth milk chocolate ganache, baked with an egg so that it’s perfectly pliable at room temperature — simultaneously firm but melting on the tongue. The generous ring of pistachios sprinkled around the edges lends a gorgeous pop of color but also adds another needed textural contrast.
One bite and all I could hear were smooth sounds like the voice of Etta James and the fast beating of my own heart. I was taken by its creaminess, the balance of the slight bitterness of the crust and the more mellow ganache and the unique richness of the attractive strip of pistachio paste. It’s rightfully low and sleek; a heftier tart would be too much. This is classy.
Chocolate Pistachio Tart
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts
I made quite a few changes to the original recipe I found in the cookbook that I really think made this tart sing. My version is below. There is a version on the Martha Stewart website that’s slightly different from the book recipe I adapted to which you can refer as well.
Vegetable cooking spray, for pan
For The Crust
3/4 cup (105 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (30 grams) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/3 cup (56 grams) unsalted shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For The Filling
1/2 cup (116 grams) heavy cream
1/4 cup (60 grams) whole milk
5 ounces (142 grams) milk chocolate (preferably a high quality chocolate with a high cocoa content — 40% works best and keeps the tart from getting too sweet. The ganache layer is the star and needs star treatment), finely chopped.
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Pistachio Paste (recipe follows)
Chopped pistachios for garnish
Coat a 9-inch tart pan with with cooking spray
1. Make the crust: In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, chopped pistachios, salt. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add vanilla, then beat in flour mixture until just incorporated and dough holds together when pressed between 2 fingers.
If pressing into pan (my preferred method for this crust, but ether way works): Carefully press the dough into the pan, covering the bottom and up the sides evenly. Press it enough that the pieces cling together but not so much that the crust gets tough once baked. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer. In the pan, the crust can be frozen, tightly wrapped for 1 month. Bake right from the freezer, adding about 5 minutes onto the baking time.
If rolling: Press dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Alternatively, you can freeze the crust for 1 month. Let the dough (from the fridge) sit at room temperature until cold but pliable, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake crust until firm, 30-40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to an 11-inch round, 1/4 inch thick and fit into pan. Patch tears and trim to the rim. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer. In the pan, the crust can be frozen, tightly wrapped for 1 month. Bake right from the freezer, adding about 5 minutes onto the baking time.
Make the filling: In a small saucepan, heat cream and milk. Pour over chocolate in a small bowl. Let stand 2 minutes. Slowly whisk until smooth. Let cool 10 minutes, then stir in egg (without incorporating air!) until combined. Spread pistachio paste evenly on the bottom crust, pressing firmly with an offset spatula until flat and smooth. Place tart shell on a rimmed baking sheet and carefully pour in the chocolate filling. Bake until just set, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle tart with chopped pistachios. Tart can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Take out 45 minutes before serving. Serve plain or with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
1/2 cup (84 grams) unsalted shelled pistachios, toasted
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
In a food processor, purée pistachios, sugar, and salt until mixture begins to clump together, Add oil, and purée until very smooth and paste like. This could take 10 minutes or more depending on your food processor.