March 14, 2009

Dark Chocolate Rosemary Tart for Pi Day

Dark chocolate and rosemary. Rosemary and dark chocolate. Thinking about it, you just can't imagine how utterly transcendent the two are together. At least, I couldn't. Until I dipped a finger into the tart base and just KNEW I was onto something big. Really big. As in, baking-life-changing, big.

For this month's "You Want Pies with That" challenge, we blogger-bakers were invited by Elizabeth of Cake or Death to make a pie with herbs or spices. I knew immediately that I wanted to combine an herb with chocolate. My first idea was chocolate and basil, which I've seen done a few places. But when I mentioned the pie challenge to my good friend Marie, who is a terrific pastry chef-turned-bookkeeper, she suggested chocolate and rosemary together. At first, I wasn't sure about it but when I realized that I already had rosemary in the house and that it's not really basil season anyway, I decided to try it.

All I can say is: you simply must try this combination. The sum of chocolate and rosemary is so much more than either of the parts. I never could have guessed just how much they would complement each other. The rosemary adds a depth to the chocolate and the chocolate brings out a new side of the rosemary. I just could not get enough of it, and I wish I could serve you a taste of it right now through the screen. Because then you would know. You would know this discovery is as big as finding the formula for pi. At least, in my world it is. (Sorry, Archimedes)

As soon as ice cream season hits my kitchen, I am going to attempt a chocolate & rosemary ice cream, based on my favorite chocolate ice cream recipe. And I'd like to try a chocolate & rosemary ganache on top of chocolate cupcakes. But honestly, I could just keep making this same tart over and over again.

The tart is based on the cover recipe from Lori Longbotham's glorious book, Luscious Chocolate Desserts. If you don't own a copy, then I can tell you right now that the dark chocolate tart and the chocolate cheesecake are worth the price of two copies of the book. Lori's book is like a slice of this chocolate rosemary tart: sleek, simple and irresistible.

I got very lucky with the amount of rosemary I used in this. As I was winging it without a recipe, I just guessed that two sprigs would do it. I was almost tempted to add more as I like bold flavors and then I was worried that perhaps I should add less or the herb would be overpowering. In the end, the two sprigs were just perfect.

This is my first entry for "You Want Pies With That" after signing up so many months ago. I'm excited to start off with such a marvelous tart. If not for the challenge, I would never have discovered the combination of chocolate and rosemary -- a flavor that is going to haunt me (in a good way) for the rest of my baking life! See below for the recipe.

Oh yeah, I also made a savory rosemary ham & egg tart, using a recipe from Nick Malgieri's new book, The Modern Baker. As lovely as it was, especially with Framani's rosemary ham, it just couldn't touch the chocolate-rosemary tart. I'm only mentioning it because I'm partial to these photos:

Perfectly Simple Dark Chocolate & Rosemary Tart
Adapted from Lori Longbotham

To infuse the cream (best if done 24 hours in advance):
Place 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 3-4" sprigs of fresh rosemary in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Turn heat down to low and let cook for a few minutes, then remove to a bowl and cool to room temp. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until ready to proceed with tart, no less than 6 hours later, preferably at least overnight.

For the crust:
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, cooled
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter, cut into small pieces

Process the sugar and walnuts in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add the flour, cocoa and salt and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse just enough until mixture begins to come together when small amount is pressed between your fingers. Do not overprocess. Press dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a lightly butter 10 or 11 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Bake for 15-18 mins in a 350 oven until crust begins to pull away from sides of the pan. Let cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.
(Alternatively, you could buy a premade tart shell or make one with chocolate cookie crumbs).

For the filling:
14 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 Tbs sweet butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
Good pinch of sea salt, fleur de sel or kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
Rosemary-infused cream from above

Remove the rosemary sprigs from the cream.

Melt the chocolate with the cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over saucepan with 1.5 inches of simmering (not boiling) water, whisking until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the eggs, sugar and salt until well blended. Add vanilla. Transfer the filling to the warm crust.

Bake in a 350 oven for about 12-18 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but still a bit jiggly in the center (this actually took about 25 minutes in my oven but it always run slow). It's okay if the top of the tart blisters slightly (mine didn't). Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Before serving dust with cocoa if you like. Serve with whipped cream (also infused with rosemary would be a nice idea!) or creme fraiche.

Update: I have to say I'm tickled that my chocolate-rosemary tart won the challenge for this month on You Want Pies with That. I never win anything! Really, I don't. Okay, I won a Heineken beer sign once at a bar in college but someone stole it from my dorm room later and I won $20 once on a scratch-off lottery ticket. But really, I just don't win stuff. So I guess I was due. I'm glad y'all liked it, blush blush.


The Food Librarian said...

Looks beautiful! What an interesting flavor combo - sounds delicious. I'm glad you took your friend's suggestion. Welcome to the group! :)

suz said...

Oh my goodness; you found two of my favorite things in life and threw them together! Now I'm thinking all sorts of things. Chocolate Rosemary Mole Chicken anyone? Welcome!

Allergy Mom said...

I'm convinced! Rosemary always smells like pine to me, so the chocolate must have had a wonderful minty earthiness to it...ok, I'm starting to drool! Libby

Judy said...

Rosemary always surprises me. I love it in sourdough bread, but a chocolate-rosemary combination is truly intriguing.

Comedy Goddess said...

Very sexy.

I will try this out soon.

Sara said...

Mmmmm, this looks so yummy! I love rosemary but I would never have thought to pair it with chocolate! Sounds like a flavor combination I will have to test out. :)

Beryl said...

Gorgeous pics. I was tempted by the Modern Baker savory tarts too.

jane of many trades said...

i have infused so many flavors into chocolate before, but never rosemary. add this to the list of pies and tarts i will be trying out! you did a beautiful job with the tart/

Debbie said...

I am amazed at the combinations everyoine has come up with for this month's theme. This sounds like a combo I must try!

Jacque said...

Oooh, I'll bet that was good! It sounds so exotic :)

Liz said...

That sounds amazing! I never would have thought to pair those two things, but after reading your description (and drooling over the luscious pictures) I can imagine how good it was!

Natashya said...

I love that combination! So very creative.