Chocolate is one of our most indulgent and luxurious foods. The cocoa or cacao bean, native to South America, was cultivated by the Aztecs for centuries before being discovered by European explorers. During the 17th century, drinking chocolate was enjoyed by wealthy royal and aristocratic families.
By the 1800’s, the process of making confectionery chocolate was developed. The bean was pulverized, and then mixed with sugar and cocoa butter to make a paste. Conching, or agitating the liquid chocolate over a period of up to seven days, allowed the flavors of chocolate to mellow and develop. Then the chocolate was tempered, gently heated and cooled, to distribute the cocoa fat evenly and produce a glossy finish. And finally, the chocolate was poured into molds.
Since the beginning of time, people have exchanged presents to mark the winter solstice, and for many, chocolate is the quintessential gift. Consumption of chocolate, in particular dark chocolate, can also be good for your health. Chocolate is a good source of minerals, Vitamin B12, and iron. But best of all, a high quality chocolate tastes good, which is why I really enjoy giving folks a Bittersweet Chocolate Tart.
The recipe for this sinfully luscious, gluten-free dessert features a crust made from old- fashioned oatmeal ground up quite finely in the food processor, along with nuts, melted butter and honey. Almonds or hazelnuts are both delicious. Cocoa powder and a touch of cinnamon add an exotic flavor to the treat.
Because there is no additional sweetener added to the filling, this is a really rich, dense, chocolate sensation. A sprinkling of coarse sea salt and chopped nuts on the top of the tart creates another layer of flavor. Very sophisticated, very healthy, and very good!
Bittersweet Chocolate Tarts will keep for several days in the refrigerator, or for weeks in the freezer. I pack frozen tarts in a box with festive greens and ship the gifts to my West coast family and friends. Thin slices of the cake, garnished with a dollop of whipped cream, are the best of all holiday indulgences.
Bittersweet Chocolate Tart
For the crust:
- 1 ¼ cups rolled oats or oatmeal not quick cooking
- ¾ cup nuts almonds or hazelnuts are my favorite
- ½ cup melted butter cooled
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the filling:
- 1 cup espresso or strong coffee
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup butter melted and cooled
For the topping:
- 1 teaspoon large grain sea salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped nuts
- Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch diameter tart pan.**
- Add the rolled oats and whole-wheat flour (or almonds) to the bowl of your food processor and pulse.
- Add the melted butter, honey, cocoa powder, sea salt and ground cinnamon.
- Pulse the crust ingredients until ground, and the mixture is crumbly and looks like sand.
- Pat the crust mixture into the tart pan and up the sides. Bake until crust is set and smells toasty, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.
The Filling and Topping:
- While the crust is baking, prepare the topping. If needed, toast the nuts. Cool and finely chop the nuts. In a small bowl, mix chopped nuts with sea salt. Set aside.
- Without washing the food processor, add the espresso and cocoa powder to the bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.
- Add melted chocolate, vanilla and butter to the bowl.
- Process until mixture is very thick and smooth.
- Scrape tart filling into shell.
- Sprinkle with topping.
- Chill at least one hour.
1 – 9 inch round
1 – 13 x 4 inch long
2 – 4 inch rounds & 1 – 6 inch round
The total area of the pans combined should be 52 – 64 square inches