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Let’s get straight to the ingredient list and procedure, shall we? And yes, some would term this a “recipe.” What it is really is a list of ingredients and a list of techniques used to combine the ingredients in a certain way to achieve a specific result. Anyway, here we go.
- 6.9 oz all purpose flour
- 3 oz granulated sugar, (up to 4 oz, if you want sweeter dough)
- 1.15 oz cocoa powder, (see Note)
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder or freeze dried coffee, (I used Bustelo) optional
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5.5 oz unsalted butter, , softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons -1 Tablespoon heavy cream
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder (if using) and salt.
- Add the softened butter and mix on low to medium-low speed until the butter is completely incorporated.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix well.
- Add the cream and mix for 15-20 seconds. The dough should come together in a big lump stuck to the beater. If this doesn't happen, add more cream, a tiny bit at a time, until the dough comes together. There shouldn't be any dry ingredients fluttering about, nor should the dough be sticky. It should be about the consistency of Play-Doh.
- Remove the dough from the mixer and form it into a disc about 1" thick.
- Place the disk between two sheets of parchment and roll to about 3/8" thick.
- You can line a tart pan immediately or, if you're making cookies, refrigerate the sheeted dough until it is firm.
To Line a Tart Pan with a Removable Bottom
- Place the dough over a 9" tart pan (8" or 10" is fine too, depending on what sort of tart you'll be making. You can even line a regular pie pan with the dough). Leave at least 1/2" overhang all around.
- Working slowly around the tart pan, lift an edge of the dough and then press the dough into the corner of the pan. Don't stretch the dough or it could shrink back on you. Use the back of your knuckle to press the dough into the corners. Especially if you have long nails, don't use your fingertips or you could poke holes in your dough.
- Trim the the dough to have a more-or less even overhang. I used kitchen scissors.
- Fold the excess dough over inside the tart pan and press it against the dough already lining the sides. This will give you a double thickness on the sides and will help make your tart nice and sturdy.
- Using a small spatula or knife (I used a small offset icing spatula), trim the dough even with the edge of the tart pan. Sweep the knife/spatula from the inside to the outside across any dough sticking out over the top of the pan. The edge of the pan will sort of act like a cutter, giving you a nice even edge.
- Save the scraps and re-roll once. You can use the extra for cookies.
To Bake the Tart Shell
- Refrigerate the tart shell on a cookie sheet (because of the removable bottom) until firm.
- Poke tiny holes all in the bottom of the tart shell with a small, sharp knife. (I find a fork makes holes that are too big. You don't want your filling to leak out.)
- Refrigerate or freeze for about 30 minutes.
- Line the bottom of the tart pan with parchment (crumble it up and then uncrumble it to make it easier to fit it in the corners) or a commercial-sized coffee filter and add some beans or pie weights.
- Bake at 350F (still on the cookie sheet) for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and carefully lift up the parchment or coffee filter. This dough is delicate, so if it's too wet, it might stick to the parchment. Worry not. Just put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so and check it again.
- When the dough in the bottom of the pan is set up enough that it doesn't stick, carefully remove the paper and beans. Put the tart shell back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the bottom is completely dry. The crust will firm up as it cools. If it seems a bit soft, you can absolutely stick it back in the oven for another few minutes, and nothing bad will happen.
- Let the tart shell cool completely on a rack.
You can absolutely make this tart with any cocoa powder from the grocery store and have great results. If you have some darker or higher quality cocoa powder, please feel free to use it or substitute some in for part of the total weight. I have some Black Onyx Cocoa Powder from Savory Spice Shop, and it is super, super dark. I used about .3 oz of that and made up the difference (to 1.13 oz) with Hershey's.
If you're not ready to tackle a tart shell, make sandwich cookies (bake at 350F on parchment for 8-12 minutes or until firm. You can always bake a couple of minutes longer if they aren't as crunchy as you'd like once cool) and fill with a tiny bit of whatever sounds good: caramel, jam, mousse, frosting, etc.
Stuff I Used to Make This Tart Shell
I have a plan for this tart shell which you’ll see later this week. Yesterday, when this shell was still unbaked, I posted a photo of it and asked on instagram and facebook what you would fill it with. Here are some of the responses, some of which are fully fleshed out and some of which are general ideas. If you start with a general idea, refine it further by considering texture, temperature and mouthfeel:
- White chocolate pastry cream with raspberry gelee
- Sea salt caramel custard
- Something peanut buttery
- Chocolate ganache, marshmallow cream, graham cracker streusel (what does that sound like to you?)
- Raspberry compote with a chocolate ganache drizzle
- Ooey gooey caramel and nuts with ganache
- Coffee mousse
- Raspberry white chocolate custard
- Coffee mascarpone cream with cocoa nibs sprinkled on top
- More chocolate…and caramel
- Bananas, pastry cream, meringue
- Caramel and vanilla rum pastry cream with orange segments
- Bavarian cream topped with lots of fresh fruit
- Coconut custard with toasted coconut
- Corn custard, candied orange, pistachio brittle
- Coconut and almond pastry cream
- Pumpkin and salted caramel
All of these ideas are fantastic. There are no wrong answers here at all. This is about making a tart shell and then filling it with whatever makes you happy.
I’d love for you to add to this list in the comments, friends. And I also challenge you to make this tart shell, fill it with your idea of the perfect filling and share it with me over on the facebook page. Feel free to use my site search in the sidebar for filling ideas or ask The Google. Even we trained folks start with an idea and then use The Google to research.
Thanks for spending some time with me today, friends. Now tell me, “What would you fill that chocolate sable tart shell with?”
Update: My buddy Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic took up the gauntlet and created this simply gorgeous banana cream pie with chocolate crust. Love!