I have a soft spot for wax museums. They’re overpriced and kitschy and when they’re not maintained, the wax guests quickly turn into a collection of has-beens, like a party at Elton John’s. Wax museums are on my mind right now, because the Hollywood Wax Museum is auctioning about 200 figures – from the good to the confusing to the completely unrecognizable. I mean, look what they did to Dolly Parton. She’s a MAN, Baby! A man!
With wax museums, quantity does not equal quality.
The same holds true for this insanely rich Chocolate Cream Tart, featuring a chocolate shortbread crust, chocolate cream filling and whipped cream sprinkled with chocolate shavings. If you try to wolf down a wedge, the experience will diminish to Robin Williams as “Popeye” territory. Too much. Way too much. But if you can limit yourself to a few bites, maybe even a small sliver, you’ll have a peak experience, like I did when I saw these hideous figures of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Chocolate Cream Tart
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
- 1 9-inch Chocolate Shortbread Tart Dough, fully baked and cooled (recipe follows)
- 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Chocolate shavings or curls for decoration, or cocoa powder for dusting
- For the Filling: Bring the milk to a boil.
- Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until well-blended and thick. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk to temper the yolks so they don’t curdle. Still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream.
- Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking constantly (make sure to get in the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Whisk in the melted chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the custard or, if you want to cool the custard quickly, put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the custard occasionally until it is fully chilled, about 20 minutes. (If it’s more convenient, you can keep the custard, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
- When you are ready to assemble the tart, whisk the chocolate cream to bring back its velvety texture.
- Spoon the cream into the tart shell, stopping just short of the crust’s rim (you may have some left over) — you want to leave room for the topping. Smooth the top and, if you are not serving the tart immediately, press a piece of plastic wrap against the cream and refrigerate the tart until needed (or up to 6 hours).
- To Make the Topping: Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream until it just starts to thicken. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks.
- Spread the whipped cream over the tart and smooth it with a metal icing spatula or, if you prefer swirls, go for them. Serve the tart now or refrigerate it for up to 2 hours before serving. When you are ready to serve the tart, scatter chocolate shavings or curls over the top or, if you’d prefer, lightly dust the top with cocoa powder.
Chocolate Shortbread Tart Dough
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- Put the flour, cocoa, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients; pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.
- When the egg is in, process in long pulses — about 10 seconds each — until the dough forms clumps. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and lightly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
- Press the dough into the buttered pan. Press evenly over the bottom and up the sides, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed — press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but no so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Keep a close eye on the crust’s progress — it can get too dark in a flash. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.