I'm not feeling good. Haven't been feeling too good over the past few days. Everything seems to be going all wrong. Nursing a broken heart, a failed relationship...patching family ties...and under all sorts of pressure at work. Life at this point, really seems grey and dreary...and I'm desperately in need of a pick-me-up.
Been snacking on chocolates almost every day for the entire week, cos it provides such simple comfort. Whenever I'm unhappy, chocolate perks me up...chocolate makes me happy...chocolate makes me smile, even if it's for a while. My relationship with chocolate is always evolving...and we seem to grow closer with each passing day.
Since I have frozen tart shells in the fridge, I decided to bake this to cheer my sad self up. It was easy to prepare really, especially when you do this bit by bit, separately one component after another. First the tart shell, then the custard cream, and lastly the whipped cream crown. The individual components, though not mind-blowing on its own, came together beautifully to form a rich, chocolaty dessert which impressed with its taste and texture. I took this to my colleagues and everyone totally loved it...yet I got all the credit for it although this is really the result of the detailed guidance from my favourite book. Having gone through quite a couple of recipes from Baking from my home to yours, I must say that the recipes are virtually foolproof. The little tips and details that accompany each step along the way are so meticulously written, that it feels as if Dorie's telling them to you in person. Watching Julie & Julia in the theatre, I feel as if I can somehow relate to Julie in the story and imagine Julia right at the other side of the world. The relationship's beautiful - distant, yet ever so close. The amazing amount of work that goes into writing a good cookbook blows me away. There are many out there who lists recipes without testing them fully. Yet those books which have gone through the full process of testing and refinement are really set apart from the rest of the field. And this book, to me, is a real gem.
(For the filling)
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
35g unsalted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
1 9-inch Chocolate Shortbread Tart Dough, fully baked and cooled
(For the topping)
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Chocolate shavings or curls for decoration, or cocoa powder for dusting
1. Bring the milk to a boil.
2. In a large saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until well-blended and thick. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk, then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
3. Whisk in the melted chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. Chill the custard in a large bowl of ice water or refrigerate overnight.
4. When you are ready to assemble the tart, whisk the chocolate cream vigorously to loosen it and to bring back its velvety texture. Spoon the cream into the tart shell, stopping just short of the crust's rim. Smooth the top and, if you are not serving the tart immediately, press a piece of plastic wrap against the cream and refrigerate the tart until needed (or up to 6 hours).
5. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream until it just starts to thicken. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks.
6. Spread the whipped cream over the tart and smooth it with a spatula. Serve the tart now or refrigerate it for up to 2 hours before serving. When you are ready to serve the tart, scatter chocolate shavings or curls over the top or, lightly dust the top with cocoa powder.
Yields a 9-inch tart.