I fear I am running out of time to bake everything I like to bake in December. There are not enough hours in the day or sugar in the bin to revisit all the holiday treats I’ve created and enjoyed over the years. With that said, I will find time to make this chocolate tart. It’s a relatively new tradition in our family, introduced by my mother-in-law a few years ago. Christmas Day she joins us for dinner and our habit has been for me to make the entree and sides while she brings dessert. The first time she brought a chocolate tart, we all forgot about dinner. I honestly can’t remember what I served… but I remember every nuance of that slice of chocolate goodness.
I made some changes over the years to customize the recipe. I use a graham cracker crust, for ease, flavor and texture. (A standard pate sucree will work perfectly, too.) Sometimes I keep the tart plain; at other times I top with a few toasted crushed hazelnuts or almonds. One time I took it right over the top with candied pecans and a drizzle of caramel sauce to approximate a turtle candy. Divine! A friend of ours, after enjoying a slice (or two), gave me the ultimate compliment: “Keep this recipe.” I have always wanted to try a border of crushed candy canes; I love the combination of chocolate and peppermint. I think the reason I come back to this tart so often is that it can be adapted to suit any mood or occasion. It keeps beautifully and I never have to worry about how it will turn out.
If you are looking for a celebratory holiday dessert that won’t take hours and days to create… this chocolate tart is the one. It is classic, simple and beautiful. It tastes delicious and takes no time to make. Plus, chocolate is about as universal as you can get for a dessert. I am guessing that, for those of you who give this recipe a try, my chocolate tart may become a tradition for your family, too. Wishing you all a warm and happy holiday season!
For the crust:
- 1 sleeve of graham crackers (about 9 full-sized graham crackers)
- 5 T. unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional, recommended)
For the filling:
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1/2 c. whole milk
- 10 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, or chopped semisweet chocolate (I like Theo 70% dark bar, or Nestle chips)
- 2 T. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 c. toasted crushed hazelnuts or sliced almonds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Crush the graham crackers in a food processor; or, put them in a large ziploc bag and crush them with a heavy-bottomed cup, or rolling pin. Melt the butter in a large bowl; add the graham crackers, sugar, salt and cinnamon, if using. Stir together. Turn the crust mixture into a 10″ ceramic tart pan, like this one. Press firmly and evenly around the bottom and edges until the crust is well-distributed and nicely compact. Bake for 8 mins., just to toast and set the crust. I do not use pie weights for graham cracker crusts. Set aside while you make the filling.
Lower the oven to 325 degrees.
Warm the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Don’t let it boil. Remove from the heat and add your chocolate pieces. Stir until they melt, then add the sugar and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Temper the eggs by streaming in about 1/2 c. of the warm chocolate mixture while continuously whisking. Add the tempered eggs to the saucepan and whisk until combined.
Carefully pour the filling into your prepared crust. It will come nearly to the top of the pan, so place the tart pan in the oven and fill there, if you are worried at all about transferring a full pan to your oven. Bake for 15 to 20 mins., until the filling is set– when you gently move the pan, only the very center should move– and the top looks glossy. If the top starts to crack, it is overbaking; remove at once.
Allow the tart to cool completely before serving. Garnish with toasted nuts, if desired. The tart will keep in the refrigerator for several days, but is best served at room temperature.