Bittersweet chocolate tart with pretzel crust

When I decided that I wanted to make a sinfully chocolate dessert for Christmas dinner with my siblings I went in search of recipes.  There were brownies and cakes, truffles and pots de creme, bread puddings and pies to choose from, but none were quite right to finish off our night of gluttony.  Then I came across this recipe and while it wasn’t perfect, it was workable.

What we have here is a shortbread type of crust which uses pretzels, rather than nuts, for a bit of texture.  The filling is a basic ganache, and it’s topped with simple crème fraiche (but you could also substitute whipped cream, ice cream, or even a yogurt dollop).  It is rich, silky, not too sweet, and absolutely lovely is small servings.  It pairs very nicely with a cup of coffee too 😉

Crust

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed pretzels

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Filling

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

sea salt, crushed pretzels and crème fraîche, for serving

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with 3/4 cup of the pretzels and the confectioners’ sugar at a low speed until creamy
  • Beat in the flour and egg
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of pretzels, being sure to leave some pretzel pieces intact
  • Flatten the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap to the size of your tart pan
  • Press the dough into the tart pan and patch any tears, trim the overhanging dough and refrigerate the shell for another 30 minutes
  • Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (you can substitute a cake pan for the pie weights)
  • Bake the shell for 30 minutes
  • Remove the parchment and weights and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the tart shell is firm and just browned
  • Let the shell cool completely, then brush the melted chocolate over the bottom and up the side and refrigerate for 10 minutes
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer, then take it off of the heat and add the chocolate and let it stand for 5 minutes
  • Whisk until smooth, then add the vanilla (or you can substitute any liqueur) and sea salt
  • Transfer the filling to a bowl and let it cool to room temp for about an hour
  • Pour the filling into the shell and refrigerate until set (about 4 hours)
  • Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and crushed pretzels. Cut into wedges, top with crème fraîche (or other topping of your choice) and serve

Cowboy Cookies

Can I just say oh-my-goodness YUM!  Let me start by pointing out that I am a huge fan of cookies of all kinds.  The dry and crumbly shortbread, the chewy molasses spice, the sweet and chunky almond-blueberry, the cocoa-rich chocolate sugar cookie, the tart and creamy lemon ricotta cookie,   the colon-cleansing Rocky cookie– I love many cookies of quality.  Upon a recent visit to one of my favorite artisan coffee roasters I spied in their pastry case a cookie by the name of “cowboy”.  This piqued my interest.  A few days later one of my favorite cookbook authors posted a recipe for this cookie.  I couldn’t not try it.  It’s like a chocolate chunk cookie on steroids: a rich and dark sugar profile, chunks of bittersweet chocolate, hints of espresso, and bits of crunchy, salty pretzel.

the cowboy cookie

Ingredients:

1¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp sea salt
2 cups rolled, old-fashioned oats
14 Tbsp butter ( 1¾ sticks) at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg and one yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso
12 oz.  bittersweet chocolate chunks
¾ cup crumbled pretzels, divided

Directions:

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso. Add the oats and stir.  Set aside

dry ingredients

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy

super-creamy butter & sugars

  • Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat again

beautiful, local brown eggs

  • Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the chocolate chunks and ½ cup of the pretzel pieces

12 ounces of chunked bittersweet chocolate

  • Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line your baking sheet(s) with parchment paper
  • Measure out dough in two-tablespoon-size balls and press each ball into a dish of remaining crushed pretzel pieces
  • Place the dough balls on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart and use the palm of your hand to press the dough down lightly; just enough to slightly flatten the ball and push the pretzel pieces into the dough
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown or just begin to darken
  • Set the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool

cooling on the baking sheet

  • Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely

cooling on the wire rack

I’m thinking that these are great for folks who can’t have nuts ’cause you get the crunch profile without the nut-issues 😉

J

Recipe adapted from a post on Jonesing For…