Happy New Year! (and a very quiet happy hangover! for those of you who celebrated a bit too much already)
This chocolate tart was a last minute creation for a last minute party. I called the folks who were hosting about 1pm yesterday and had roughly this conversation:
me: What can we bring?
k: oh, don't go to any effort...
d: (in the background) is that kitchenMage? tell her to go to some effort!
Given the time of day, the lack of a convenient store and my reputation, this meant I had to get creative based on the contents of the pantry. Challenging. Fortunately, I had both good chocolate and heavy cream -- a combination that always makes last minute baking easier -- and just enough time to pull off a tart crust. The filling was based on a recipe from a cooking class at the Herbfarm, but slanted towards something like Mexican hot chocolate. The filling recipe is enough to generously fill a 10 inch tart with a smidge left over.
Mexican Chocolatish Tart Filling
Bittersweet chocolate, 12 ounces
Butter, 4 ounces
brandy, 3-4 ounces (Grand Marnier would have reinforced the orange flavor better, but I was out)
orange zest, from one orange
orange extract, 1/2 tsp
cinnamon, 1-2 tsp
allspice, 1/4-1/2 tsp
nutmeg, 1/4-1/2 tsp
cream, 2 cups
Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler (or microwave on med in 60 second increments, stirring it every minute, and stopping before the chocolate is totally melted). While chocolate is melting, grind spices and zest orange. Add rest of ingredients, except cream, and stir to combine. Let mixture cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. You can do this in the refrigerator, but watch it to make sure it doesn't harden.
Whip the cream. Gently fold cream into chocolate, 1/3 at a time. Fill tart shell. Smooth top of tart using a long spatula dipped in hot water and dried between strokes.
In this case, the decorations were impromptu. We had orangettes (no not that Orangette, the candy kind) and they looked sort of like stained glass when sliced -- tasty stained glass with chocolate edges. someoneElse sliced a number of them and I started arranging them on the tart before I had much of a clue as to final design...because a clock was so tough to come up with. A sprinkle of shaved bittersweet confetti on top of it all and suddenly it was a complete thought. When we arrived, I handed the box with the tart to D., who rewarded me with a doubletake as I explained that I had, after all, gone to a little effort.
For the first hour or so of the party, the host was pulling homemade pizzas out of the oven (caramelized onions and Gorgonzola was probably my favorite) and other guests brought lots of wonderful things to munch, plus much alcohol. We toasted the new year as it moved across North America, although by 11 we were toasting places in out own time zone, something I blame it on the much alcohol. I was glad that we were all mature enough to designate drivers and none of us had far to drive.
I wish you all a 2007 of plenty: friends you laugh with, family you love, work you enjoy and food you love. World peace would be nice too.