A large chocolate tart with hazelnut praline and cherries

There are occasions in life that demand celebration and this chocolate ganache tart is the dessert for chocolate lovers everywhere – it will even satisfy the fence-sitters.

You need to make this in stages, none of which takes very long and it can be done over the course of a few hours. Leave the final decoration until shortly before serving, as the praline will start to soften once in contact with the ganache.

The most technical thing about this is the praline – make sure you have an oven glove close at hand and don’t let your fingers get anywhere near the boiling sugar syrup!

As with all recipes, I strongly advise you to read through from start to finish before attempting the tart; you don’t want any surprises along the way.

The stages are:

  1. Make the pastry, rest and roll, blind bake and cool
  2. Make the dark chocolate ganache. Fill and set.
  3. Make the white chocolate ganache. Fill and set.
  4. Make the hazelnut praline. Cool and blitz half.
  5. Melt the dark chocolate for drizzling.
  6. Assemble and serve.

A fizzing fountain candle won’t go amiss with this one, its over-the-top indulgence needs a look-at-me moment. Anyone counting calories should look deep into their soul and then dive in, spoon flailing. Life is too short to miss out on treats like this.

Ingredients

For the pastry

145g plain flour

30g cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)

85g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and popped in the freezer for 15 minutes

1 generous pinch of sea salt

1.5 tablespoons fridge-cold water

Icing sugar for rolling

Dark chocolate ganache

300g good quality dark chocolate (I use Valrhona), broken into small pieces
300ml double cream

75g unsalted butter

75ml VSOP Cognac (optional)

White chocolate ganache

200g good quality white chocolate (I use Green & Blacks), broken into small pieces

200g double cream

50g unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

75ml dark rum (optional)

Hazlenut praline

150g hazelnuts, peeled

200g sugar, preferably granulated but caster will do

45ml water

To serve

80g dark chocolate

Fresh cherries, raspberries, figs or any other chocolate-friendly fruit in season.

You will need a 23cm loose-bottomed fluted tart tin like this

Method

Make the pastry. Put the weighed-out flour, cocoa and salt in a blender. Add the frozen butter and blitz for 15-20 seconds until you have a coarse crumb. Add 1 tablespoon of water and blitz again to combine. Add a few more drops of water if needed, to bring the mixture together in a ball. Tip the pastry and use your hands to condense it in a ball. Wrap and place in the fridge to rest for 10 minutes.

Then dust your clean work surface liberally with icing sugar and use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry to the desired size. Carefully line the tart case, gently pushing the pastry in to the folds and pressing out the bottom to an even thickness. Pinch off the excess at the edges.

Heat the oven to 200C, prick the pastry base with a fork, line with baking parchment and fill with beans or rice or coins. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and return the pastry to the oven for another 6-8 minutes until the base is cooked and has a sandy texture.  Leave to cool.

Make the dark chocolate ganache.
Put the cream and butter in a saucepan and place on a medium heat. Have a whisk or spatula ready and as the cream comes up to the boil, tip the chocolate in and stir like crazy.
When the chocolate has melted add the alcohol (if using) and keep whisking until the mixture is shiny and well combined. Pour it into the tart case. Make sure it spreads evenly and give the tart a gentle tap to settle the ganache. This needs to cool and set at room temperature –  two to four hours.

Make the white chocolate ganache.
Put the cream and butter in a saucepan and place on a medium heat. Have a whisk or spatula ready and as the cream comes up to the boil, tip the chocolate in and stir like crazy.
When the chocolate has melted add the alcohol (if using) and keep whisking until the mixture is shiny and well combined. Pour it into the tart case. Make sure it spreads evenly across the top and give the tart a gentle tap to settle the ganache.

This needs to cool and set at room temperature – two to three hours. At this stage you can remove the tart from the tin – loosen the sides push gently from underneath free the sides. Then use a palate knife to loosen the base. Have a display stand or cake plate ready for the tart to sit on.

Make the hazelnut praline.
Line a roasting tin with baking parchment.
Put the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Gently swirl the liquid around in the pan but DO NOT STIR while the sugar dissolves, as it will crystallise.

Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and give the pan an occasional swirl as the liquid comes to the boil. All the water will evaporate as the heat intensifies and you will be left with a foaming mix that will start to change at the edges, taking on a darker colour. Keep swirling every 15-20 seconds as the colour spreads from the outside to the middle. You will smell burning sugar, hold your nerve – you want something approaching a brick red colour. Tip the hazelnuts into the caramel and swirl the pan to coat the nuts. As soon as they are coated, take the pan off the heat and tip the boiling mix onto the baking parchment. It will spread fast, use a wooden spoon to quickly press down the nuts into the caramel in a single layer. Put the praline out of the way to cool – about an hour. Fill the saucepan with water and place any other sugar-coated implements in it. The water will dissolve the residual caramel and it will be easy to clean.

When the praline is cool and hard, break off a couple of triangular shards for decoration – as many as you want – and pulse the rest of the praline in a blender until you have a coarse crumb of caramelised nuts.

A slice of dark and white chocolate tart with hazelnut praline and fresh cherries

To assemble
Melt the chocolate (I give it 20-second blasts in a glass bowl in the microwave until it’s runny).

Place your fruit on top of the tart in whatever formation you desire. Sprinkle the praline over the middle of the tart, and arrange your praline triangles where you want them, like standing stones.

Use a fork to drizzle the melted chocolate across the tart in a zig-zag motion.

Fill the champagne flutes, turn off the lights, cue the music and ignite the fountain candle. Boom.

© Linda Galloway 2020