Monday, April 8, 2013

Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cream Tart

 When I was still teaching, I often would lay awake at night thinking about my class-- lesson plans, students, organizing, etc. This was pretty common throughout the month as there was always so much to do with so much going on. However, now that I am not working in the classroom setting, I find myself losing sleep due to recipe and project ideas. Friday morning at 4:30 A.M. I was wide awake scheming on how I was going to make this dreamy idea of a chocolate coconut tart a reality.

I tossed, turned, and then finally got up about an hour and half later. Yes, this does mean I woke up before sunrise to test a new dessert recipe I made while laying in bed. Baking in my jammies when the house was still (the dogs didn't even wake!) was kind of amazing. Interestingly, I used to think that getting to work at 6:30 A.M. to plan and make copies when the school was quiet was amazing. Oh, how time has changed things...
Anyway, this tart ended up being sensational! The buttery chocolate crust is a perfect shell for layers of rich super dark chocolate ganache and smooth coconut pastry cream. This is the perfect dessert to enjoy with a cup of coffee. It's definitely not too sweet which truly allows each flavor component to stand out. With a little drizzle of homemade salted caramel, this tart is sure to please!

It almost feels like the big fancy cousin of an Almond Joy.
So. Good.
Okay, before you look at the recipe and soon realize the process looks LONG, you should know that the steps involved are not actually tricky-- pinky promise!

Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cream Tart
makes a 10" tart

For the crust (adapted and inspired by this recipe):
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp luke warm water
1 tbsp white sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

For the dark chocolate ganache:
1/2 cup chopped 60% cacao dark chocolate (or darker)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the coconut pastry cream:
2 1/2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup coconut milk (from the can)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the whipped cream (optional):
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar (add more if you prefer)
1 tsp coconut rum

For the garnish:
unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted on a baking sheet in the oven until golden brown
dark chocolate shavings
salted caramel sauce (I always use this recipe or you can buy some from the market)

1. Make the crust.  Preheat the oven to 410 degrees F. In a medium oven-safe bowl ( I used a glass mixing bowl), combine the butter, coconut oil, water, and sugar. Place the bowl on the middle rack and bake the mixture for about 15-18 minutes. The butter should start to bubble and turn brown. Be very careful when removing the bowl from the oven and transferring to the counter.

In another small bowl, whisk together the salt, flour, and cocoa powder. Slowly whisk this into the hot butter-- be careful! This will cause sputtering so be sure to stand back a bit. Once the dough has formed and begins to pull away from the bowl, transfer it onto the middle of a fluted 10" tart pan. Use a spatula and spread the dough-- once it has cooled enough and is safe to touch, use your fingers to evenly press the dough throughout the pan. Use a flat and round measuring cup, or the palm of your hand, to help push the dough onto the sides and ensure as even a layer as possible. Reserve a small amount (1/2 ball) of dough and bake the crust in the oven for 15 minutes. Once it is finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely. *Note: If there are large cracks, you can use the reserved amount of dough to patch up the crust by taking bits and pressing down onto the breakage when it comes out of the oven.

2. Make the dark chocolate ganache. In a small sauce pot, heat the heavy cream on medium. Be sure to stir often to avoid burning. Once the cream starts to simmer, turn off the heat and pour it into a bowl containing the dark chocolate. Use a rubber spatula or whisk to stir the chocolate and cream until everything has melted together smoothly. Mix in the vanilla extract and then allow the ganache to cool for about 10 minutes before pouring onto the tart crust. Use the spatula to evenly distribute the chocolate. Place the tart into the refrigerator to chill for about an hour before layering on the coconut cream. *Note: If you're impatient, like me, you can place the tart in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes while you make the coconut cream to speed up the process.

3. Make the coconut cream. Use a hand mixer to cream together the sugar, corn starch, salt, and egg yolks until the mixture is pale and creamy-- set aside. In a small sauce pot, heat the milk, coconut milk, coconut oil, and vanilla extract on medium. Stir constantly and bring to a low simmer. Turn off the heat and, while whisking the egg mixture quickly with one hand (or using the hand mixer on low), slowly pour in 1/3 of the hot cream. Mix in the rest of the cream and then transfer everything back onto the stove. Heat the pastry cream on low. Make sure to stir constantly and scrape from the bottom. Cook on medium until a low boil is reached-- the cream should be thick and coat the back of the spatula. Remove the pot from the heat, transfer the cream to a bowl, and cover it by placing a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface (to avoid a film forming). Allow the coconut pastry cream to cool down for about 20-25 minutes (place in the fridge to speed this up).  Pour and smooth the coconut pastry cream over the chocolate ganache layer-- place the tart back into the fridge to chill while you make the whipped cream.

4. Make the whipped cream. Using the whisk attachment of a hand mixer, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and coconut rum together until stiff peaks form. Use a spatula to smooth over the layer of coconut pastry cream. *Note: I made two tarts-- one with whipped cream and one without. Both tasted fantastic and although the whipped cream is a lovely addition, without it this dessert is still quite it is definitely optional! :)

Garnish the tart with toasted unsweetened coconut flakes and dark chocolate shavings. Drizzle with salted caramel sauce. Keep the tart in the fridge and remove about 5-10 minutes before serving.

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