Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Martha...not what she's cracked up to be (Chocolate Espresso and Mascarpone Tart)

Chocolate Espresso Mascarpone Tarts

If I could have a dessert everyday for the rest of my life, I think it would have to be this tart. Okay, perhaps I cannot promise any sort of long-term commitment to this tart or any dessert for that matter; it’s a fickle world out there for desserts. But for the meantime, this one is my favourite. I found the recipe for this Chocolate Espresso and Mascarpone Tart on Martha’s
website and I would like to claim that the recipe is a winning “Martha” recipe, however this one actually was a complete blunder.

The tart turned out beautifully, as I eventually learned how to read between the lines; the lines of non-existent instructions that would have been advantageous in aiding to complete the task. The recipe, that I obtained from the internet was so flawed and fraught with inconsistencies (a reoccurring theme I find with most of her internet recipes), I can’t say that Martha was much help.

At the risk of sounding like a little miss know-it-all, it was only until I started making my own deductions that the recipe made sense. The ever so perfect and seemingly immaculate Martha, with her pristine kitchen benches and her faultless ironed shirts on this occasion was more of a hindrance than a help. Her ingredients list was missing certain essential items and also included some that are actually not necessary at all. Let’s just say that I had to make an extra trip to the grocery store, midway through the recipe to purchase another tub of mascarpone cheese because “something” went awry with the original tub. I was only following instructions but this relatively simple recipe became a bewildering and time-consuming exercise that if ultimately did not pay off in the end, I would have probably discarded it altogether- recipe, tart and Martha.

Chocolate Espresso Mascarpone Tarts

But it’s safe to say that all is not lost, the recipe’s only redeeming quality was its final result and if you think about it, this is what matters most. After a tub of mascarpone cheese and some eggs going to waste, all I can say is the tart is sensational but don’t even bother with the recipe online. That’ll teach me to read a recipe all the way through before commencing, something I have been known not to do often.

Suffice to say, the tart was a booming triumph, despite the misadventures in the kitchen. I don’t think I would be giving this tart such glowing reviews if the end result even slightly mirrored the disaster that ensued from merely following the recipe.

The ganache topping immediately melts in your mouth and the crisp delicate chocolaty crust is absolutely delicious, I could easily eat the crust all by itself. I love the marriage of textures in this tart, and what does it for me is the combination of the crumbly pastry and smooth and creamy mascarpone filling and ganache. Make sure you use the highest quality chocolate as you will definitely taste this in your ganache and only the best will do. On a warm summer’s day, this tart is sure to melt fast, so my only advice is to make sure you eat it faster than the rate that it is melting! Here is the complete recipe.

Chocolate Espresso and Mascarpone Tart
serves 8

Chocolate Espresso Mascarpone Tarts

220g bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cacao), roughly chopped
300ml heavy cream (45% milk fat)
2 tbsp ground espresso beans

1 cup plain all purpose flour
¾ tsp fine sea salt
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
110g unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp heavy cream

350g mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar
zest of one lemon

Place the chopped chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl, set aside.
In small heavy-based saucepan, bring the cream and espresso to a boil, carefully stirring until the cream has just boiled.
Pour though a fine sieve over the bowl of chocolate and let stand for two minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, gently mix the cream and chocolate continuously until the mixture becomes smooth and silky.
Allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours.

Sift flour, salt and cocoa powder into a medium bowl, set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until combined.
Gradually sift flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the cream and mixing after every addition. The mixture will be quite sticky.
Gather the dough into a ball and shape into a thick rectangle, wrap in clear plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour (or can be kept overnight).

Roll out dough between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper to about ½cm thick, enough to cover a tart pan 36x13cm.
Gently lift the dough, with the help of a rolling pin and transfer to the tart pan.
Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges using the rolling pin; use the left over dough to cover any holes or thin surfaces on the pan.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Before baking, prick the base of the pastry shell all over using a fork.
Line with some parchment paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice or beans.
Place in the oven for 18 minutes, then remove pastry weights and replace in the oven for another 2-3 minutes at 220˚C or until the shell has crisped up.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before unmolding.

NOTE: The dough can be kept in the freezer, tightly wrapped for up to one week.

Place mascarpone cheese and lemon zest in a medium bowl.
Sift over icing sugar, making sure that all clumps are removed.
Mix the sugar and cheese until smooth.

Whisk ganache on medium speed until soft peaks form. Ensure that the mixture is at room temperature, not warmer or colder, or else your ganache will seize or become grainy.
Using a flexible spatula, smooth mascarpone filling evenly over the bottom of the tart shell.
Then spoon your ganache over the top of the mascarpone, or if you wish, you may pipe the ganache over the filling.
Chill for 30 minutes before serving.


Sara said...

I have heard this before about her recipes - both on the internet and in her books. The Martha recipes I've made have always turned out, but I haven't made that many over the years. But wow...that tart looks simply great!

Anonymous said...

Oh my poor you! You did an amazing job and I would not have believed you encountered kitchen misadventures if you had not said so!

Anonymous said...

i cannot think of a more delish combo! wow that is just stunning!! mmmmmmmm....bookmarking...

beautiful pics as always too:)

ilingc said...

*jaw drops*
the tart looks so mouth watering..!
i wish i lived around the corner. i would come knocking.. begging..for a slice ;)

i'm glad you managed to do what Martha couldn't.. give proper instructions :)

Brilynn said...

That tart looks perfect. Please send some this way.... I think I could also have used some of your kitchen wisdom tonight when I was making lemon bars, something's not right about them. I haven't tasted them yet though, so there's still hope, maybe they just look funny.

Meg said...

Wow, that tart looks gorgeous. Lovely photography. And I guess I'll have to be careful when I bake those cookies from Martha's website that I've had my eye on for quite some time... Thanks!

Erielle said...

Man oh man oh man!
That looks so good so good so good.
Thank you for writing down your adaptions to Martha's poorly written recipe so that we don't have to go through the same troubles that you did.
You made the world a better place today.

Belinda said...

I want some... now.... can you send some to Melbourne? Drooool... I've never used a Martha recipe but I've been put off!

miss cupcake said...

I always thought it was me and my poorly baking skills whenever it came to Martha's recipes - I guessed wrong then.

Since her famous blunder, I've realised she was a model and then a stockbroker before she built her "Martha" brand name - maybe that helps to explain her recipes.

wheresmymind said...

I always gain 5lbs looking at your blog...for shame!! lol j/k

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I don't know is it like let the buyer beware.
Terrific that the end result was excellent. Sure put you through an exercise.

Anonymous said...

wow, my jaws are're amazing me one more time. This tart is so gorgeous!! even with some misadventures, you're still doing perfect desserts!

Yvo Sin said...

Now is that your recipe interpretation or hers? I didn't read it because I'm terrible with making sweet items, but I want to because those pictures are so darn gorgeous.... I hope you posted the "good" recipe :) THANKS! for sharing!

Jen said...

Sara- Thanks!. I never knew that so many other people have had problems with Martha's recipes. Wow, she needs to do something about that.

Bea- Thank you, I think it's testament to how good this tart is. Because although there were so many mishaps, it still has managed to turn out beautifully.

Aria- Thanks, I highly recommend this recipe, you will love it. And I have included all the right ingredients in this one.

ilingc- I don't know what's so hard about giving correct instructions. It's a just a nuisance when you want to make her recipes but really need to fill it out like a crossword puzzle before starting.

Brilynn- Sometimes its the funny or in some cases, ugly looking things that actually taste beautiful. I'm sure your bars are delicious!

Ishtani Adhar- All I can suggest is that read the recipe twice over before staring, and make sure all the instructions make sense.

Erielle- Oh you know, I do what I can for society. Hopefully no one else will waste a tub of mascarpone cheese and a handful of eggs when making this recipe.

Belinda- I am just on my way to Melbourne this weekend in fact! However all that's left of the tart are crumbs... so maybe next time : )

Miss Cupcake- Yes, she has an interesting CV, that Martha. She reminds me of those Stepford wives robots.

wheresmymind- sorry... I might start posting some salads then. It is getting to summer here and I should lay off the cookies anyway.

Mykitcheninhalfcups- just a warning before you go and make her recipes, as they have been known to be incorrect. She certainly did put me through an excercise.

Yvo- Yes, that is the correct recipe and hope you give it a try.

Nabeela said...

oh what a beautiful looking tart! I've had trouble with martha's recipes before be wary when you come across a recipe from her
Btw, if I might make a suggestion...can you please increase the font on your'll make it easier on us to read your wonderful culinary adventures :)

Unknown said...

I'm sorry that you went through so much hurdles. But, it does pay tart look absolutely gorgoeous and yummy. The kind one just wanna sink my teeth into it. Hee...

Anonymous said...

Jen, you are an absolute star! The tart look stunning and it sounds incredible.

I simply have to make this when i come back from my holidays next year.


Anna (Morsels and Musings) said...

jen, that tart is amazing. everything from the base to the dreamy textured crema looks delectable.

all your recipes are fantastic, but i think you may have outdone yourself here.

Helene said...

Could have fooled me! Thsi tart is absolutely gorgeous! I have been wanting to make it for a while.
I am so hungry now!

Anonymous said...

This tart looks delicious, I have try this recipe.

Eva said...

Wanted to grab fork and spoon as soon as my web browser had opened this picture... but had to realize that this beautiful tart would not materialize itself for me...

Jen said...

Nabeela- I have found the font size just right, and haven't had any comments from anyone else, so it could just be the settings on your computer. If you are using IE, try adjusting the text size under "VIEW" Let me know if this is still a problem.

Jacelyn- Thanks, I think I sunk my teeth into the tart a little bit too much. I could probably eat at least half of the tart all by myself in one sitting!!

Mae- I'd love to see what you do with this tart considering your expertise in the kitchen and also behind the camera!

Anna- I don't know what else to say but THANKS!!

Helene- I think you would love this tart. You must try it!

Krista- Try it try it try it!!!

Eva- I'm sorry that tele-transportation has yet to be invented. The good thing is that I have posted the correct recipe so it shouldn't be as difficult for you to make as it was for me.

Anonymous said...

Amazing, as usual! I'm just sorry that you had to go through such a headache before reaching this dessert nirvana!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Gorgeous, I love it. Can you tell me what you did different from Martha's recipe? I don't usually have problems with her recipe and I'm curious.