This weekend I was tasked with bringing a chocolate dessert to a family dinner. My mom and her husband were using up greens from their garden and making a green salad, sauteed swiss chard, and fingerling potatoes and ahi (topped with arugula pesto) on the grill. Check out the spread. We also had tomato bruschetta as an appetizer, but I didn’t get a shot of those before we ate them!
I didn’t want to make The Chocolate Cake (which I recently made a ton of for my brother’s wedding), or cupcakes, or brownies, or any of my standard desserts. I toyed with incorporating lemons, but when I started looking for a chocolate tart I abandoned the lemon requirement. I came across a recipe for Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans and I knew that I needed to make it.
However, I didn’t have any Mexican chocolate on hand (and yes, I had everything else the recipe called for!). And since I always like an excuse to visit Whole Foods, I went in search of Mexican chocolate there. I didn’t find any. But, I got samples of two other kinds of dark chocolate, and I found a bar of “Spicy Chile” dark chocolate that, if I upped the cinnamon in the filling, would be a good addition/substitute to the recipe. I’ll find Mexican chocolate and make something with it next time!
I also needed to change the recipe to work with my 10″ tart pan instead of the 9″ pan that the recipe called for. I did the math (I did math!) and upped the amounts for the filling so that I wouldn’t have too of a thin layer of chocolate in my chocolate tart (and nobody wants that). This recipe is so easy and only gets better when it sits in the fridge, so you can make this tart ahead of time. That way you’ll have time to make dinner or head to the beach before showing up to your mom’s house with a fabulous dessert.
And I assure you, if you show up with this tart you’ll be invited back to dinner again and again in the hopes that you’ll keep brining such good things! This tart is rich and sweet and crunchy and luscious. It melts in your mouth and is one of the better ways I can think of to finish off an evening of good food.
Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans
Adapted from “Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans” on Epicurious
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. golden brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
- 1 1/2 cups gingersnaps (finely ground in food processor)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 (3 oz.) “Spicy Chile” chocolate bar, chopped
- 5 tbsp. butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tsp. Kahlua liquor
For the Pecans: Heat the oven to 350ºF, and spray a baking sheet with the nonstick spray. Whisk together everything but the nuts in a bowl large enough to hold everything (including the nuts). Add the nuts and stir to coat. Arrange the pecans on the baking sheet and, if you want your tart to be extra pretty, make sure the rounded part of the nuts are facing up. Bake the pecans for 15 – 30 minutes, checking them every 5 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. When they are dry and just darkening removed from the oven and cool, in the pan, on a rack. Carefully remove the pecans from the baking sheet and store in an airtight container till you’re ready to use them.
For the Crust: Heat the oven to 350ºF. Process the ginger snaps until finely ground and then, depending on the size of your processor (I only have a small one) continue in the processor, or remove the crumbs to a larger work bowl. To the ginger snap crumbs, whisk (or process) in the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Drizzle in the butter and combine until wet. Press the crust mixture into a 10″ tart pan with removable bottom. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
For the Filling: Heat the cream to a simmer in a medium sauce pan. Remove from heat and whisk in both chocolates until melted. Add the butter, a piece at a time, whisking until one is almost melted before adding the next. The mixture should be smooth and a rich chocolate color. Whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the chocolate mixture into the crust and put it in the fridge.
After 15 – 20 minutes the tart should have begun to set. Remove from the fridge, and arrange the pecans in concentric circles on the tart. Put the tart back in the fridge for another 4 hours (or overnight, or until its dinner time) until fully set.
Take the tart out of the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to serve it so that it can warm up and the texture can improve. Serve with Kahlua whipped cream, and garnish with more of the pecans.