I know we are only in the second chapter of the Modern Baker Challenge, yeast breads, but you can’t help looking ahead and being taken in by pages like this:
My friend Amber was visiting a few weeks ago and knowing my weak spot, suggested we bake something together. As a good hostess, I suggested she pick something from the Modern Baker. How could I argue with her selection?
Simple enough to put the crust together: whir the nuts in the food processor along with the flour and butter (and interestingly enough, baking powder–Malgieri notes that this contributes to a light crust, though it’s an unexpected ingredient).
I had some trouble with the tart dough. Even after chilling it while we ran to the grocery store, I had a terrible time rolling it out. In the end I had to treat it much like a press-in dough. I found this frustrating, and only later did I realize that I had missed Malgieri’s suggestions for handling a nut sweet dough. He suggests kneading it a bit before rolling out (which I did not), or that you can simply treat it as a press-in dough. I felt much better. It’s not that I have the perfect touch with pie dough, but it was reassuring to know I hadn’t lost whatever “touch” I do have! Here’s me trying to meld the dough back together before I transfer it to the tart mold.
Once the crust was ready to go, I made the filling. Since Amber was around, I have a rare action shot–pouring that luscious chocolate filling into the tin.
Then you sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on top. Amber toasted them in a dry frying pan for a few minutes, which not only enhances their flavor but loosens the skins. As I learned when making the Red Plum Tart, if you wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and rub them against each other, the skins flake right off. We had a few stubborn bits clinging on, but that didn’t have any ill effects. (Also the nuts go from pleasantly toasted to burnt pretty quick: watch out!)
Here’s the tart fresh out of the oven. beautiful warm golden brown crust. Beautiful orange-scented chocolate filling.
After cooling, you drizzle chocolate melted with butter on top. I almost skipped this step (anything requiring a pastry bag puts me off, for some unknown reason) but it turned out to be ridiculously easy. Turns out, my annoying pastry bag kit could remain buried away. Instead, I poured the mixture into a Ziploc sandwich bag, made the tiniest snip at the corner, and voila!
I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said this was one of the most delicious things I have ever made. Even when I am pleased with one of my kitchen ventures, I don’t typically claim that it rivals something out of a professional pastry kitchen. This thought crossed my mind with each serving. If I wasn’t sure about having bought this book, this recipe alone would be enough to justify it. The pie crust was light, tender, and was good enough to eat all on its own. The combination of chocolate and orange zest–two common enough ingredients–was inspired and elegant. It’s not that chocolate, plain and simple, isn’t delicious, but the orange and hazelnut made it unique.
I can’t wait to bake through the rest of this chapter!