When our bookclub gets together, I am usually the one who brings dessert. We used to be a larger group, with a much greater range of cooking abilities and tastes. Over time life has intervened, one couple broke up and drifted away, another has found other interests, and what remains is a group who enjoy the shared reading experience and the excuse to get together every six weeks or so, but no real interest in cooking. One is still remembered at the staff lunchroom for devouring cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew on an almost daily basis throughout the school year, and another does not cook for herself at all, living on tuna fish sandwiches, fast food takeout and raw vegetables. In other words, they're an easy group to please; just about any home cooked dish wows them.
This strawberry chocolate truffle tart is an exercise in excess. It's really an amalgam of recipes, with a chocolate crust, a rich chocolate filling, and a traditional glazed strawberry tart topping. It takes a little time to pull together, but is not at all difficult. It is impressive looking and quite delicious.
The chocolate crust is from Baking with Julia. Essentially a pâte sucrée dough with 1/4 cup of cocoa powder replacing an equal amount of flour, it is an easy, forgiving dough to work with and produces a tasty crust. A printable version of the recipe is here.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed is recommended)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1+ TBS ice water
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in butter. With fingers, work butter into the flour mixture until you have a crumbly mixture. Mound the mixture and make a well in the center. Stir in the egg yolk and ice water with your fingertips, like making pasta. Add just enough cold water for the dough to come together; it should still seem dry and only just hold together.
Wrap the dough in plastic, flattening to a disk, and chill until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out the chilled dough and place into the tart pan. Prick the bottom of the tart all over with a fork. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 14 to 18 minutes, rotating half way through. When done, remove and let the crust cool completely before filling.
9 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 60% cacao)
8 oz whipping cream
In double boiler above simmering water or in microwave, melt chocolate. Add cream and stir until thoroughly mixed. Filled cooled tart shell and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour before topping with strawberries.
Strawberries with Glaze
2 pints fresh strawberries, washed and hulled, divided
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cornstarch or tapioca starch
Puree 1 pint of strawberries in blender with sugar lemon juice and cornstarch. Pour mixture into a small saucepan and heat over low until thickened and transparent. (For a clearer glaze, puree strawberries and filter through a fine sieve before adding other ingredients.) Cool.
Slice remaining pint of strawberries in half and arrange on top of the chilled tart. Brush glaze lightly over the top of the strawberries.
The tart is probably best served the day it is made.