Although our feet have been solidly back on U.S. soil for a week now, we’re finding our hearts and spirits frequently wandering back to the streets of Paris. It might be because Scott has been sorting through a myriad of pictures, choosing the best of the best for his upcoming post: “April in Paris – A Photo Journey”. Or perhaps it’s because the whole trip, now that we’re back in everyday-reality-mode, seems like a lovely dream that’s quite fun to re-immerse ourselves in.
Although it would be impossible to choose a favorite memory of our week in France, one of the days we frequently reminisce about, is the one we had with Paule Caillat at Promenades Gourmandes, her delightful French cooking school. I actually shared a whole post on our market-to-kitchen culinary class, but I thought it might be fun to re-visit the experience with one of the fabulous recipes we learned that day in Paule’s beautiful Parisian kitchen.
I’m not sure if it was the aura of excitement, the fine French ingredients, the expert instruction or the delightful company, but everything we prepared that day was fabulously, delicious. The menu consisted of a wonderful cheese course (and tutorial on French cheeses), a classic French salad, amazing make-ahead mini soufflés, steamed asparagus, Braised Chicken in Mustard Sauce and; the crème de la crème, a decadent French Chocolate Tart topped with fresh raspberries.
I decided to share the crème de la crème today, since I brought back a block of French chocolate, and it was burning a hole in my
This one’s great because the whole thing can be made in advance, ensuring less last moment frenzy. The crust is the same crust I used on my Goat Cheese and Tomato Soufflé Tarts. It’s one of Paule’s cherished family recipes, and she’s become quite famous for it. In fact, all you have to do is Google Paule Caillat’s Crust and you’ll find articles from Saveur, Food 52, The Kitchn, David Lebovitz and more! I love that it can be used for both sweet and savory tarts and love even more that it can be thrown together in minutes (hands on time) with no rolling or cutting butter into flour.
How does that work? It’s a very unconventional technique: butter, sugar and a splash of oil and water are heated in the oven (yup, you heard right!) until the mixture is bubbly and golden brown. Remove the bowl from the oven, add a cup of flour and stir. That’s it; for a buttery, super flaky, amazingly delicious tart crust. If you don’t tell anyone how easy it is, I promise I won’t either!
The filling is a fairly traditional ganache, with heavy cream. It’s heated just to the boiling point (I do this in the microwave). Add some good quality chocolate and a bit of butter, then stir till smooth and creamy. Pour this luscious mixture into your tart shell and refrigerate for at least one hour. The result? Hands down, one of the most delicious chocolate desserts you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting!
In our class, Paule topped her tart with raspberries and a shower of confectioner’s sugar. Since I’d like to be just like her when I grow up, I did the same. Strawberries or blueberries would also be wonderful, or how about a drizzle of caramel or a simple dollop of whipped cream? You’re the boss when it comes to that.
Tuck this one in your “have to make” arsenal! You’ll be thanking yourself and Paule over and over. When you serve it, be sure to proclaim “Bon Appétit”!
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- For the crust:
- 3 ounces butter (90g)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, any mild flavored oil is fine. I use canola.
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 slightly round cup all-purpose flour (150g or 5 ounces)
- For the ganache filling
- 1 cup heavy cream (250ml)
- 8 ½ ounces good quality chocolate** (250g)
- 1 ounce butter (30g)
- Preheat the oven to 410º F (210º C).
- Cut butter into small pieces and place in a medium-sized ovenproof bowl (I use Pyrex). Add the oil, water, sugar, and salt.
- Place the bowl in the oven until mixture is bubbling and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes.
- Remove bowl from the oven and reduce temperature to 375˚F.. The bowl will be very hot so handle with a hot pad till it cools down. Immediately add the flour (stand back a bit as the mixture may sputter as flour is added). With a heat-proof spatula stir until the mixture forms a ball.
- Transfer the dough to a 8 or 9-inch* (23 cm) tart mold with a removable bottom. When it's cooled down a bit, press dough to an even layer with your fingers. I like to start with the sides and then press the remaining dough on the bottom. (David Lebovitz suggests reserving a small ball of dough to patch up any cracks once the crust is baked. I do this if the filling is a runny egg mixture but with this thick chocolate ganache, I don't worry about it.)
- Pierce the bottom with a fork all over. Also press the sides of the crust with a fork to reinforce.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.
- For the ganache filling, break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium size bowl.
- Heat the cream. When it reaches the boiling point, remove. You can heat the cream on the stovetop or in the microwave. Remove it from the heat just as it starts to boil.
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Stir with a heat-proof spatula till creamy and all chocolate has melted. Add the butter and stir well to incorporate.
- Pour chocolate mixture into cooled crust and refrigerate for at least one hour. Can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Top with raspberries, strawberries, caramel, whipped cream or whatever strikes your fancy!