Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chocolate Tart: A Perfectly Easy and Historic Dessert

Chocolate Tarts, 18th c. Style

What makes this such a great dessert is its versatility because you can choose from a variety of flavorings!

Here are the two 18th c. chocolate tart recipes used as the inspiration for this recipe:

Chocolate Tart
Lamb, Patrick, Esq., Royal Cookery or The Compleat Court Cook, Printed for E. and R. Nutt and H. Lintot, London, 1731.

Put a Spoonful of Rice-Flower, and a little salt in a pan, together with the yolks of five eggs, a little milk, and mix them well together, then add a Pint of cream, and Sugar according to your Direction; Set it all to boil over a Stove taking Care that it do not curdle: mean while Grate some Chocolate into a Plate, dry it a little before the Fire, and when your Cream is boiling, take it off the First, mix your chocolate well with it, and set it by a cooling: Sheet a Tart-pan, put in Your Cream and bake it. When it is baked glaze it with powder’d sugar and a red hot shovel so serve it. Note, We make a Cinnamon-Tart in the same manner, only using grated Cinnamon instead of the chocolate.

To Make a Chocolate Tart
Glasse, Hannah, The Complete Confectioner, London, 1800.

Put two spoonfuls of fine flour in a stew-pan, with the yolks of six eggs, reserve their whites, mix these with some milk, add a quarter of a pound of rasped chocolate, with a stick of cinnamon, some sugar, a little salt, and some rasped green lemon peel; let them be a little time over the fire, after which put in a little preserved lemon peel cut small, and having tasted whether it has a fine flavor, let it cool; when cold, mix this with the reserved whites of eggs beat up to a froth, doing the rest as before directed.

18th c. Style Chocolate Tart (transcription)
(I had this recipe for the first time at Colonial Williamsburg about 2006. I was there on a study tour and met Jim Gay, a foodways journeyman cook there, and he offered those of us in the group a piece of this tart to try that was freshly made by him that day. Jim Gay's recipe was not published online at the time and for years I struggled to figure out how to recreate it. I finally found it online and offer it to you here with some of the modifications I made over the years based on the experimentations I did in trying to recreate it. You can find the original recipe by the late Jim Gay by clicking here.

  • 5 oz. dark chocolate, (your favorite dark chocolate in the form of chocolate chips or a solid bar of chocolate grated by pressing down on the chocolate with a serrated knife)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolks (large size eggs)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice flour
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • Flavorings of choice (see below)
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar , or to taste, depending on the sweetness of the chocolate used
  • 1 prepared pie shell, store-bought fresh or home-made (a frozen crust is not recommended as it gets too brown in the oven.)
  • Option 1: Fresh and Dried Citrus
    • Fresh rind from one lemon
    • 1 tsp dried lemon peel
    • 1 tsp dried orange peel
  • Option 2:  Cinnamon and Lemon
    • Fresh rind of one lemon
    • 2 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon
  • Option 3:  Chocolate Spice Mixture (below) + 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
    • ½ tsp dried grated orange peel
    • ½ tsp grated lemon peel
    • 1/8 tsp ground annatto (achiote)
    • Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
    • 1/8 tsp ground star anise
    • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • Option 4:  Choose Your Own Combo!


Measure the chocolate chips or grated chocolate and place into a bowl, and set aside.
Pour the cream into a sauce pan and set on low heat.  While it slowly comes to a boil, combine the salt, egg yolks, rice flour, milk, and your flavorings of choice in a separate large bowl and set aside.

Once the cream starts to gently boil, add the grated chocolate, stirring constantly and making sure all of the chocolate is melted. Then, add the sugar and cook until the sugar is melted.

Temper the egg mixture and the chocolate mixture by taking a quarter of a cup of the hot mixture and slowly add to the egg yolk and rice flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk, to prevent scrambling.

Stir the warmed egg yolk mixture into the sauce pan and bring all the ingredients to a boil for about a minute. Set aside and allow it to cool 5-10 minutes. While the mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a pie plate with a bottom crust.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pie plate, set it upon a cookie sheet to prevent spillage, and bake for about 45-50 minutes until set (no jiggling just in the very center when gently shaken; it should all move together equally when done). Remove from oven and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or overnight.  Note:  You can also make individual tarts (as pictured) in mini-muffin pans; bake for 20 minutes.

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