Tart Me Up

The request was simple: supply a chocolate ganache tart for the birthday girl. Of course, with a little too much time and butter on my hands, the single tart became three as Saturday stretched into a test-kitchen moment for crusts and fillings. Along the way, I made several important discoveries—including a butter-laden, moist (near-oozy) dough that, defying logic and physics, bakes into an airy, soft-crispy shell.

First, the chocolate ganache tart. I used my standard pastry dough (with almond flour substituted for some of the all-purpose flour) and blind baked it. Ganache was a snap, so this was done in no time. (Chilling the dough was really the only time consuming part of this process, and the ganache hardens quickly.)

I was only getting warmed up. Leafing through Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets cookbook, I honed in on her pâte sucrée dough because it called for 2½ sticks of butter (!) and powdered sugar. In the explanation, she says this is the standard recipe for Paris pastry chef apprentices—and I know why. The end result is divine. Though with so much butter, it is nearly loose enough to pour when it is first made and has to be chilled for hours before it reaches a consistency that allows for rolling. The good news is that it makes enough for three 9-inch tarts, so I have two dough disks in the freezer for future tart adventures.

Now, fully inspired and, as usual, lúcuma obsessed, I attempted to recreate lúcuma cream (which usually fills sponge cakes in Chile and Peru). If it’s good in a cake, it HAS to be better in a tart, right? As there were no lúcuma cream recipes to be found, I used a Gourmet recipe for coconut pastry cream as a starting point and pulled together an intensely lúcuma-flavored custard that set nicely. Into Dorie’s lovely pastry shell that went.

Of course, then I had extra ganache and lúcuma filling on my hands…  screaming for a chocolate pastry shell.  Martha Stewart has a simple recipe—essentially a basic tart dough with the addition of two tablespoons of cocoa. However, whoever typed it up for her web site forgot half of the instructions. (Am thinking Martha would say, “This is a bad thing.”) I guessed and blind baked it as I usually do: 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, pulling the weights out at 20 minutes so the crust browns. One chilled, I spread in the leftover ganache and covered it with a thin layer of lúcuma custard.

At that point, my tart run was over; I ran out of pans and refrigerator space. But I am already imagining combinations for the remaining dough in my freezer.

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