I have to warn you…this is going to be a strange post. Let’s start with the important part so when I lose you, and I will lose you, you will have already gotten what you came for—this earth shattering, stop-the-world-from-spinning orange curd tart with a layer of bittersweet chocolate tucked underneath and a light and flaky crust to drive it home. Yeah, it is summer perfection; tart and cool when served with a little crunch of that chocolaty goodness.
If you are a product of the 80′s, you get the title. Remember those epic Miller Lite commercials where arguments would ensue over “Tastes Great!” or “Less Filling!”? Well, I am here to launch a similar campaign for tarts over pies. Mmmhmm(Although, please read the disclaimer at the bottom…it’s rather important). Yep, this definitely is a fluff piece of journalism friends, so what’s new?
Now, please don’t get me wrong, pies are a great love of mine and that will never change, but I have recently decided tarts are IT, the top banana, the big kahuna and if I must say it, they “TASTE GREAT!” and are “LESS FILLING!”
Here’s the short list of reasons to make a tart over a pie….
The crust looks fancier and is fairly idiot proof (perfect for bakers like me who are challenged in the “make it look nice” department). See my tomato tart post for more proof!
Needs less filling and thus the prep time is cut a bit.
Needs less filling…no I haven’t been drinking—yet—stay with me here…less calories and fat per slice. Yippee! But please don’t think that this is a healthy or low-fat recipe…you would be grossly mistaken.
Looks more sophisticated…gets, “oohs” and “aaahs” and “how did you do THAT?!” exclamations from guests.
And finally…tarts are a handy little vehicle for summer fruits like berries and citrus and you don’t need a whole strawberry patch of berries to fill it up either. Pies tend to need huge quantities of berries which can be costly and annoying to hull and chop.
With the scorching heat wave the West Coast has been having, this orange curd tart, with a nice layer of cold crisp bittersweet chocolate and topped with raspberries, was simply a smiley bite of cool and light brightness to nibble as we sat and chatted with friends.
Honestly, this tart in particular is insanely good, especially if you like the combination of slightly bitter dark chocolate combined with tart orange flavor. I added just a dot of whipped cream and served it with a bowl of fresh raspberries last night, and there was not a single soul not cutting a sliver of “seconds” or licking their fork and plates clean.
Needless to say, it got rave reviews and although it has two time consuming steps (pie crust and orange curd), you can take the easy way out and buy the Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods crusts which are wonderful and just focus on the curd. Putting it together is a snap and it will look and taste like a million bucks!
*****WARNING! BIG HUGE DISCLAIMER!!!******
Do not, under any circumstances substitute a tart for a pie on Thanksgiving…I will NOT be responsible for that kind of foolishness.
Orange Curd and Bittersweet Chocolate Tart
Plain and Perfect Pie Crust from Gale Gand’s Lemon Meringue Pie
Adapted From Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs
This recipe makes a single crust pie so double it for a top crust pie. See my Heirloom Tomato Tart post for crust pics and more details.
2 1/4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 t. granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
1/3 c. ice water (strain out the ice just before using)
1 t. red wine vinegar
I actually made a single batch of this curd first, and then decided I wanted a thicker layer of curd so I made it again. Here is the 1.5 version.
9 large egg yolks (save the whites to make meringues or an angel food cake the next day!)
1 c. + 2 T. granulated sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup + 2 T. unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
3/4 a bag of dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli), melted
Garnish with whipped cream and raspberries
To make the crust: IMPORTANT, Start with really cold butter and chop it up into little 1/8 inch cubes. I usually cut the stick of butter vertically down the middle and then flip it and cut vertically again. Cut it into little cubes from that point. Place dry ingredients, flour through salt, into the bowl of a food processor. Whir it a couple of times to combine the dry ingredients. Then I add the butter, a few cubes at a time, down the chute, whirring in between.
Drop ice cubes into a liquid measuring cup and measure a little over 1/3 c. of cold water in it. Strain out the ice after a couple of minutes and make sure you are left with 1/3 c. water. Add the vinegar to the water and pour the water mixture into the processor, a little at a time, pulsing in between. Pulse a few times until it looks mixed but there are still pea sized butter pieces in the mixture. If you are doing this by hand, you can either use a pastry blending utensil or your hands. Hands really work quite well because you don’t have the danger of over mixing. Just keep breaking up the butter between your fingers and incorporate all of the ingredients. If you over mix with the processor, it makes for a tougher crust. The coldness of the butter and water help make your crust flakier and so does leaving the butter in pea sized pieces. The butter pieces will create air pockets in your crust.
Now dump out your mixture onto a floured pastry board. It will still be in pieces so don’t freak out…it will be a little dry and crumbly but you just need to mush it together to form a thick disk. If it won’t come together, you can add a tablespoon of water on the crumbles of dough and mold it in until you can get it to form a disk. The worst thing you can do here is add too much water. The dough should not come together easily, and should never be wet or sticky like batter or bread dough. It takes a little work to pat it and get it to shape into a disk. After it is formed into a disk shape, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in a ziploc bag in the fridge for at least an hour (two is ideal!). This again is a great trick to flaky pie crust.
Now make the curd while you have the crust refrigerating: In a heavy duty medium-large sized pot (not a stock pot though), add the egg yolks. Make sure to separate eggs in a separate dish first so if you make one mistake you don’t ruin the pot of egg yolks. Add the sugar, zest and lemon and orange juices. Whisk together with a wire whisk over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and liquid-y and then switch to a wooden spoon. Stir frequently, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Curd can burn easily or curdle. The trick is to stir often and turn down the heat to medium once you have a little simmer going (about 5-10 minutes after you began). Once you have a simmer, stir constantly, turn down to medium and cook for another two minutes until thickened. If it’s not terribly thick, that is OK, it will refrigerate and get thicker.
Once it is thickened, take it off the burner and stir in the butter—only one large pat of butter (maybe a table spoon) at a time—stirring all of the butter in and add the salt making sure mixture is thoroughly combined. If you ended up with bits of solidified egg, push the curd through a strainer. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
After the crust has refrigerated, heat your oven to 400 degrees F. and roll the dough out on an amply floured pastry board. The trick to rolling out dough is not to over work it. This will help your crust remain flaky. Roll forwards once then backwards once and then left and right and repeat until it is rolled out about an inch larger than your tart pan. I use a pairing knife to trim a 1/2 inch off my entire circumference to get a nice smooth edge. Gently lift your dough and place it into the tart pan leaving a little dough hanging over the top a bit. Use your fingers to gently press the dough into the ridges on the side of the pan. Push the excess dough over the top edge to cut it off. The tart pan is a little sharp and the dough will cut through it and then you just remove the excess so the dough fits exactly to the pan’s edge when finished.
Poke the bottom and sides of the dough with tines of a fork. Gently. Cut a square of foil that will fit into the bottom of the tart pan and either fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Make sure to make the foil into a little saucer so the dried beans or weights won’t spill out onto the crust.
Bake with the pie weights in for about 10 minutes and then remove the foil with and the weights. Bake another 8 minutes without the weights or until slightly golden. Cool the crust completely.
Melt your chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for one minute. Stir and then heat for one more minute. Pour the chocolate over the cooled crust and spread with a spatula or butter knife.
Refrigerate the pie crust with the chocolate for an hour. Once it is finished and the chocolate is cold and hard, scoop the curd over the chocolate and spread with a spatula. When ready to serve, top with dots of whipped cream and raspberries. Serve cold.