There is one reason I will probably never be a great baker. Baking involves math, my worst enemy. If you were to ask me off hand "what is 7 + 45?" I would probably break down crying before I could give you an answer. Especially if counting on fingers isn't allowed. So far, I have managed to get away with doing quite a bit of baking without encountering much math at all. Today that changed.
This morning I decided to bake a simple chocolate tart. I went to the grocery store, and picked up my supplies (the store, by the way, was a mob scene due to the current water emergency in the Boston area, lines down each aisle of people eagerly waiting to buy bottled water, most stores have already sold out) and hurried home to get started. No sooner than I took my ingredients out of the bag was I slapped in the face with a real life, contextual math problem. The kind of thing math teachers always say will happen, how you will use math in your everyday life and be grateful that they taught it in school. Well, I guess that all never really got through to me, because as I thought it through my mind could not make sense of any of it.
If I have a 500 gram bar of chocolate, and the recipe calls for 140 grams, and my bar has 40 squares....how many squares do I need for this recipe? My pulse quickened, and my breathing grew labored. MATH RELATED ANXIETY ATTACK! How can I ever hope to bake well if I can't figure out how many damn chocolate squares this tart will need?
Luckily enough I have two roommates much more math minded than myself, one who works in accounting, and one who hopes to become a high school math teacher. I consulted them and was walked through each step (with a calculator of course, those like me with numerical anxiety always have a calculator close by so as never to be trapped doing math in our heads) the answer turned out to be 11.2squares. Cutting .2 of a square of chocolate is also confusing, but not nearly as bad as the multiplication and division required to get to that answer. I double checked my work on my food scale, turns out my estimate was a bit over due to my rough attempt to cut .2 of a square, so I ate a few bits until it equaled out. Success!
Chocolate Fudge Tart
Adapted from Baking & Desserts, the essential recipe collection Parragon
For chocolate fudge filling:
140g high quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup flour
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 eggs, beaten
The original recipe called for a basic from scratch pie crust or ready-made shortcrust pastry. I chose to make a graham cracker crust instead, both because it is less intimidating than a from scratch traditional crust, and less embarrassing than using a store bought crust. Also, I love the combination of chocolate and graham flavors. I made the graham crust using this tutorial. I love tutorials...
3/4 cup whipping cream whipped and mixed with ground cinnamon
confectioners sugar for dusting
It also occurred to me that flavoring the whipping cream with orange extract instead of cinnamon, and replacing the confectioners sugar with finely grated orange zest could make an interesting variation.
orange whipped cream variation:
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/2 tsp orange extract
1 Tbsp sugar
After baking this I discovered that the amount of filling created by this recipe is far more than could fit in the pan I was using, a standard tart pan with lift out bottom and scalloped sides. I experimented with cupcake servings and ramekin servings with the remaining filling, and another batch of graham crust. These would have been so cute in mini tart tins, I will have to buy some for next time! If you are making this recipe for the same standard tart pan I was using, and do not wish to have extra for mini tarts and such, simply halve the recipe for the filling, and you should be all set.
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Create the graham crust as instructed in the tutorial linked above, set aside.
- In a double boiler pan, (or simply a small heat proof bowl placed inside a sauce pan with simmering water) melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth. Remove from heat.
- In a seperate bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.
- Once smooth, add the melted chocolate mixture and stir.
- Pour this mixture into the tart pan on top of the graham crust.
- Place in the oven for 40- 50 minutes
- using 3/4 cup of whipping cream, combine with 1 tsp cinnamon, or 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest 1 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- whip with egg beaters or standing mixer until thick, about 5 minutes
I was very impressed with the outcome of this recipe, I think this may become a new go-to. It is simple to make, but very sophisticated, never mind ooey-gooey and chocolaty. The addition of the orange infused whipped cream worked well to add brightness to this very rich dessert. I would make this to bring to any event, almost anywhere, and feel confident that it would impress.