This is a play on the classic fondant pudding – soft and melting inside – combined with Italian meringue. Sometimes I embed nuggets of chocolate salted caramel into the chocolate filling before baking. With or without them it is a serious hit of rich sweetness: you have been warned!
Makes 1 x 30cm tart
1 quantity Italian Meringue (see below)
Makes 6 large individual Italian meringues or 1 tart case
20ml liquid glucose
3 medium egg whites
✽ Put the sugar in a pan with the water and heat gently for about 5-8 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and formed a colourless syrup and small bubbles are breaking the surface.
✽ The syrup is ready when the temperature reaches 121/122°C maximum, so I always set my thermometer to 122°C.
✽ Now you are ready to whisk your egg whites. You can do this using a food mixer with a whisk attachment, or a hand-held whisk, but whichever you use, make sure your bowl is absolutely clean and dry, as water or grease can prevent the egg white from stiffening. Whisk the egg whites until soft foamy peaks form, then stop as soon as you reach this point, as if you over-whisk, the air bubbles that you have created will burst and the egg whites will collapse back into liquid.
✽ Next, you are going to pour the hot syrup onto the egg whites. Since you need both hands free – one to whisk, one to pour – if you are whisking by hand, then before you start, wrap a tea towel around your bowl and wedge it into an empty saucepan to hold it steady.
✽ Pour the syrup in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously until the meringue has cooled down to room temperature, and is silky and glossy.
✽ Now the Meringue is ready to use, according to your recipe.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE FILLING:
50g caster sugar
2 large eggs, plus 3 medium yolks
200g good quality dark chocolate
(at least 70% cocoa solids)
150g unsalted butter
80g plain flour
✽ Preheat the oven to 90°C/gas mark 1/4.
✽ To pipe the Meringue for the tart case, cut the corner of a piping bag, if using a disposable one, and insert a 1cm star nozzle. Fill with half of the Meringue and, beginning in the centre, pipe it round and round in a spiral until you have a circle of about 24-25cm in diameter, which will be the base of your tart case. Next pipe an edge about 2cm high – you can either do this by going around twice, or just once, lifting the nozzle up and down as you go, in a wave motion.
✽ Put the Meringue case into the preheated oven for about 4 hours until it is dried out and solid to the touch but not coloured. Remove and keep to one side.
✽ Turn up the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. For the chocolate filling, whisk the sugar and the whole eggs and yolks until they turn a pale straw colour and creamy.
✽ Break the chocolate into chunks and put into a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base doesn’t touch the water – you don’t want to get any heat or steam in the bowl, which would make the chocolate stiffen and become dull.
✽ Let the chocolate melt gently, stirring, then add the butter and continue to stir until this too has melted.
✽ Take off the heat and stir into the sugar and egg mixture, until it is all incorporated. Gently fold in the flour.
✽ Spoon into the Meringue case and smooth the top, then put into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes until the mixture is springy to the touch. Don’t be tempted to leave it in any longer as the centre should be soft and gooey when you cut into the tart.
An excerpt from Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet, photo credit Jean Cazals, originally published in FrenchEntrée Magazine
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