Tuesday, July 6, 2010

{TWD} Ooh la la! Tarte Noire and Paris

It's been quite an adventure being a member of the baking group Tuesdays With Dorie for the past two years, as we work our way through Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours, one recipe per week. I've grown to love the cookbook. As Dorie explains on her wonderful website:
"My... book ... is my most personal, in that it's like a kitchen journal recording the recipes I made and the things I learned over 30 years of baking at home and in the kitchens of some of the best chefs in America and France."
The title of Dorie's book might have more accurately read "Baking From My Homes to Yours" because Dorie has a home in Paris as well as two in the US. She has worked with French chefs on both sides of the Atlantic and luckily for us, many French recipes have become part of Dorie's "home" baking, and through the book, they can be part of our home baking also!

One such recipe is the Tarte Noir, which has become a favorite in our home. It is one of the first recipes that my daughter JDE baked two summers ago when she bought the book. Her tart was elegant in appearance (unfortunately there are no pictures of that tart, as it was before my blogging and TWD days) and, truly, nothing that sublime had ever come from my kitchen. A buttery and sweet crust combined with a velvety chocolate filling made for a perfect dessert. JDE baked it for a meeting of my book group. The general consensus of the members was that my daughter should go into the baking business!

This week my very good blogging and baking friend Jessica (aka Dharmagirl), of the blog bliss: towards a delicious life, got to choose the recipe for TWD. She recently returned from a trip to Paris, and chose the Tarte Noir as a way to celebrate her experience there. Jessica's choice turned out to be perfect timing for me, for two reasons. First, JDE had just come home from college and in a turnaround, this time I baked the tart for her.

Chocolate tarts in the window of Maison du Chocolat in Paris (sorry about the terrible photo; no inside photography was permitted)
Second, a few days after baking the tart, JDE and I traveled to Paris. We left that fabulous city yesterday after enjoying a wonderful week there. We stayed in the 6th - Dorie's neighborhood - and had a great time pretending it was our home too. There's a lot to love about Paris, but I have to say it was a special thrill to see chocolate tarts in right there in the bakery cases! Of course we had to sample the Parisian variety and see how it compared with the home-baked version. I've included some of our pictures of Parisian chocolate tarts.

Chocolate tarts (both noir and milk chocolate) in the pastry case at Bread and Roses in Paris.
n.o.e.'s notes:

- If you'd like the recipe for this tart, you'll find it on Jessica's post.

- Here are my notes about the tart I baked.

- I'd already enjoyed this tart with Dorie's fabulous crust, when my daughter baked it. This time around I decided to experiment with a gluten-free coconut crust. I adapted the crust I used for the ice cream pie (posted here) by adding an egg and blind baking it. Dorie always says that she dislikes an underbaked crust; she'd be very proud of me because mine was baked to a deep toasty brown color.

- Rather than a full-sized tart, this time I made a partial recipe and baked three small, deep, individual tarts.

- I used Callebaut bittersweet chocolate, which I love to use in baking. I think a very dark bittersweet chocolate would be good in this tart also.

- For some reason, this time my chocolate ganache wasn't very smooth. I probably should have thinned it a bit with some more cream. My tart doesn't have that coveted (by me at least) smooth, glassy-sea appearance, but luckily the deficiency was only cosmetic; the ganache tasted as great as ever.

- The chocolate caramel tart that we baked for TWD last year (posted here) is nearly the same recipe, with the added attraction of a caramel layer and salted nuts. It is one of my all-time favorite recipes!

My daughter and I split this chocolate tarte noir as a dessert after a lovely lunch at Bread and Roses in Paris. That is a bit of edible gold leaf casually placed on top!

the verdict:

The little tart tasted like a coconut cookie with a creamy, chocolate-y filling. The rustic coconut was a perfect counterpoint to the smooth perfection of Dorie's chocolate ganache. Every time I make this ganache it takes my breath away!

And the chocolate tart we had in Paris? Here's JDE's verdict:

My impressions of the Parisian chocolate tart: The chocolate filling was extremely similar to that of my home-baked tart! The crust was good, but I prefer Dorie's recipe. Thanks, Dorie, for making this French classic (and many others as well) achievable to ordinary home cooks, no matter where our homes are! And thanks to Jessica for this fabulous pick this week.


Di said...

Very cool to see pictures of some of the treats you're enjoying in Paris. Someday I'll get to do the same, I hope... =) I'm glad to hear that you and JDE are enjoying yourselves.

Nancy said...

That looks so fantastic!! I love the idea of the coconut crust...I can't think of anything better than chocolate and coconut! And you went to Paris and had one there...how wonderful for you. That must have been a great vacation with just you and your daughter! :=)

Cakelaw said...

I love the chocolate crust - double the chocolate!

mike said...

A trip to Paris, the to post Tart Noire - how utterly wonderful! It's worthy of a thumbs up - I don't see any issue with the ganache (it's all good)! It looks tres-delicioso. I must try that chocolate crust though - yours has me wishing I would have gone the "all chocolate" route. Oh well, there's always more!

dorie said...

What a wonderful, wonderful post -- it was like a mini-trip to Paris. And how terrific that the Tarte Noire came around just as you were returning -- a way to keep the flavors of Paris alive. Perfect. I love that you made the tart with a coconut crust -- a great idea and one I plan on trying. Merci.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe with us all:D

Barbara said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Paris, Nancy. My daughter lived there for 6 years and I went to visit as often as I could. I love Paris! And the food. And the markets. And the art!
So glad to hear this gorgeous tart is every bit as good as the one you had there AND I love the idea of your coconut crust!

Hindy said...

This week seems to be all about memories of Paris. Your story is wonderful as are the photos.

Leslie said...

Oh Nancy, I think your tart looks superb! I'm glad you has such a lovely time in Paris. I can't believe you put in a photo of the tarte noir at La Maison du Chocolat as I mentioned it in my post!

Chef Dennis Littley said...

what a beautiful tarte noire!!! Anything in Paris is going to seem more special....Dorie's recipes are great!
You did her proud!!

Kayte said...

Gorgeous tarts...all of them and such fun to think of you doing all this in Paris. That said, hurry home, it isn't the same without you around to bake with. I think this is one of my favorite posts ever!

Sihan said...

la maison du chocolate. Oh gosh.. you've aroused the green monster in me. hmph. Great reviews of the chocolate tarts you've sampled across paris.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

what a great post...not only is this tart special because it is soooo delicious, but also because it brings back great memories for you and your daughter!

TeaLady said...

It must have been fate for you that Jessica chose this dessert at this time. Truly fate.

I think your tart looks as good as the one from Bread and Roses. If you just had some edible gold....

I know you are sorry to leave Europe but also glad to be heading home. Looking forward to the storis and pictures.

AmyRuth said...

I can now add you to my list of TWD bakers who have visited Paris. Imagine, a gaggle of TWD bloggers, discovering the streets of Paris and all its jewels together. Okay, now your post was most enjoyable and I'm glad you and your daughter shared such a fun time there. Thank for sharing about your tart experiences and yours looks just wonderful. I like the sound of your gluten free crust. Dorie must have known you were nearby. How lovely when she visits.