Christine Ferber is one of France’s most talented pastry chefs. She grew up in Alsace, a place where baking is taken very seriously, and has written prolifically on the subject. I have four of her books, one on jams and preserves, one on pickling and patés, another on cooking with fruit, and the one from which I very loosely adapted this recipe, Mes Tartes Sucrées et Salées (My Sweet and Savory Tarts). My recipe is actually a combination of several of Ferber’s. The tart is a baked ganache, scented with orange zest and rum, topped with chopped hazelnuts, in a sweet pastry crust. A final drizzle of chocolate makes a simple decoration. Although they aren’t very French, I think pecans also work well here.
Makes one 10- or 11-inch tart, about 10 servings
One 10 or 11-inch tart crust, unbaked, made with Sweet Tart Dough, below
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) hazelnuts, toasted, skins rubbed off, and coarsely chopped or crushed with the bottom of a heavy pan
2 ounces bittersweet, not unsweetened, chocolate melted with 1 tablespoon butter for finishing
Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
For the filling, combine the cream and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves. Decrease the heat to low, add the butter and let it melt. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Gently shake the pan to submerge all the chocolate and wait 1 minute. Whisk smooth.
Whisk the eggs with the orange zest and rum in a medium bowl. Whisk in the chocolate mixture in a stream, scraping out the pan with a rubber spatula.
Pour the chocolate filling into the prepared crust and scatter the chopped hazelnuts on the top.
Bake the tart for until the crust is baked through and the filling is set and slightly puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the tart completely on a rack.
Pour the chocolate and butter mixture into a paper cone or a non-pleated plastic bag. Snip the end and streak the top of the tart in a series of random parallel lines with the chocolate.
Serving: Remove the side of the pan and slide the tart from the metal pan base to a platter. Cut the tart in wedges. Serve some sweetened whipped cream flavored with grated orange zest or some peeled, sugared orange slices along with the tart.
Storage: Keep the tart at room temperature on the day it is baked. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers. Bring to room temperature before serving again.
Sweet Tart Dough
This is a variation on a dough recipe I have been making for years. It’s quick to prepare, easy to roll out (and it can also be pressed into the pan instead), and always bakes up tender and flavorful—who could ask for anything more? The recipe doubles easily, but don’t try to make more than a double batch in the food processor at one time—most food processors will not handle such a large amount of dough.
Makes one 10- or 11-inch tart crust or a 9-inch pie crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix.
Add the butter and pulse repeatedly until the butter is finely mixed into the dry ingredients—you don’t want any visible pieces of butter.
Add the egg, egg yolk, and water. Pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a ball.
Invert the dough to a floured surface and carefully remove the blade. Form the dough into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days before rolling.
Flour the work surface and the dough; roll it 3 inches larger than the diameter of your tart pan. Fold the dough in half and set it in the pan, lining up the fold with the diameter of the pan.
Unfold the dough into the pan, fit it into the bottom and sides, then sever the excess dough at the rim of the pan. Chill the dough while preparing the filling
To bake the tart shell empty, use a fork to pierce the bottom of the crust at 1-inch intervals and line the crust with parchment paper. Fill with dried beans and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the paper and beans and return the crust to the oven to bake through until golden, about 10 minutes longer.
Leave in the pan and cool on a rack before filling.