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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tarte au Chocolate au Lait

If I can give you any advice about Paris, it is this.  Do not wait until the day before you need a car, to try and rent one, especially an automatic.  If you wait until the last moment, you will find that there isn't a single automatic car in the entire city of Paris.  But this advice is for the end of our trip through the city of light, the beginning is so much more fun.

Boyfriend and I set out from London to Paris via train, arriving in Gare du Nord.  Then it was time to put my French to its test.  Beginning in the fifth grade, I started learning the French language.  I continued through college and collected a base knowledge and limited fluency of French.  One thing was true, I was much better at reading French than speaking it.  At least this meant we could find our way from the train station to our hotel on the outskirts of Paris.

My grasp of the French language seemed to fool some people, but mostly I would speak in French and be spoken to in English.  Apparently, I need a little more practice.  We did manage to find our hotel, navigate the train system back to the city center and find our way down the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe.  We made it to the top of the monument just before the Tour Eiffel burst out in a thousand sparkling lights.

Now, how about a little nostalgia?  Shortly after we returned from Europe, I received an e-mail from my mom with the following scan attached.

In French class, way back in middle school, I wrote this itinerary.  My mom wanted to know what I could cross off my list.  Four down, three to go.  With only three days in Paris (and half of one spent looking for a rental car), we couldn't quite get to everything on the list.  I'll practice my French and plan for our next trip to Paris, so that I can finish my list.  Although maybe I'll switch out "Visit EuroDisney" with "Take a trip to Versailles."

Tarte au Chocolate au Lait
(Milk Chocolate Tart)
Adapted from Gerard Mulot

Heading to Paris and in search of les macarons?  Sure you've heard of Laduree and Pierre Herme, but I suggest you head to the Latin Quarter and go find Gerard Mulot.  You might even find the man himself at his Saint-Germain-des-Pres location, like I did!  We had a nice conversation (in French since he told me he didn't speak any English!) and he even signed my cookbook.  Everything that I have made from this book is delicious and the pastries that we purchased from this patisserie were both beautiful and mouth watering.

Pate sablee chocolat (chocolate pastry)

Less like pie crust and more like a cookie crust.  It melts in your mouth and would be delicious with any no-bake filling.

339 g (12 oz) all-purpose flour
226 g (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
143 g (5 oz) confectioners sugar
19 g (2 tbsp) cocoa powder
49 g (1.75 oz) almond flour
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt.  Once combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add almond flour and vanilla.  Mix to combine.  Add eggs, mix.  Finally add the flour and mix until everything just comes together.  Try to work fast so that the butter doesn't melt.  Form into a disk and wrap up in plastic wrap.  Place in the fridge and allow to chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  After the hour, roll out to 1/8-inch thickness and place in your desired tart pan.  (I went with four mini tart pans)  Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork and line with parchment paper.  Add either pie weights or beans to keep the pie from puffing up during baking.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before adding the ganache.

Ganache chocolat au lait

240 g (8.5 oz) milk chocolate (good quality)
200 ml (3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp) heavy cream
2 egg yolks
30 g (1 oz) sugar
10 g (1 tbsp) butter

Chop up chocolate with a sharp knife.  Place in a medium bowl and set aside.

Pour heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat.  Do not allow it to boil.  In a small bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until combined.  Slowly add heated cream to egg mixture, stirring continuously.  Once all of the cream is added, return the entire mixture to the saucepan.  Heat over medium-low and stir until slightly thickened.  The liquid should be thick enough that it coats the back of the spatula.  When you drag your finger through the layer on the spatula, it stays there and doesn't fade. 

Pour the heated mixture over the chocolate and stir to combine.  Do not beat the chocolate in, just gently stir.  We don't want to incorporate any air bubbles because it will make the chocolate less shiny (according to Gerard).  Allow the chocolate to cool for ten minutes before adding butter in small pieces.  Stir to melt and combine.

Add chocolage ganache to the cooled tart shell(s).  Allow to sit at room temperature before moving to the fridge to set overnight.
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