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Sugar High Friday: Chocolate and Vietnamese Coffee Tart

Vietnamese Coffee Tart

As if sugar wasn’t enough to get us amped up this Sugar High Friday, this month’s host at LoveSicily decided to throw coffee in the mix! To properly address this flavor intense theme, I chose the Chocolate and Vietnamese Coffee Tart created by Pastry Chef Pichet Ong, as published in the June 2005 edition of Chocolatier Magazine.

I am really interested in combining East and West flavors in desserts, so when I saw Chef Ong’s combination of Vietnamese Coffee and chocolate I had to try it myself. Upon closer inspection of the recipe, the directions call for “French Roast Coffee” as a substitution for the Vietnamese coffee Chef Ong uses in his own restaurant since the Vietnamese variety is “hard to find.” After a quick search through local specialty grocery stores I can confirm it is a scarce commodity, so I opted for the French roast coffee I already had in my cabinet from Whole Foods.

I have made tarts several times in the past with complete success, so I have no fear of trying new tart recipes. I went into this one with high expectations, and followed the directions to a T. I understood every technique called for, used the best ingredients, had the baking times and temperatures down perfectly, and still this creation turned out to be a huge disappointment. I know Chef Ong is one of the best in New York City, and Chocolatier Magazine is reliable source for great recipes, but something must have gotten lost in the translation. I’m the first one to admit that I am often to blame for failed recipes, but in this case I don’t know what went wrong.

I made the chocolate tart dough exactly as specified, and added the 2 eggs called for in the ingredients list. Adding the eggs made the dough turn to the consistency of batter, and there was no way that it could be made into a ball as called for. I studied other similar dough recipes to see what could have went wrong, and I decided to redo the entire recipe and add one egg instead of two. The dough still turned out a little soft with just one egg, but I managed to scrape it into a ball and it firmed up enough overnight in the refrigerator overnight to be rolled.

As for the filling, everything seemed fine until I actually went to taste the final product. Each bite of the tart tastes like you drank a shot of espresso and a cup of Chantico at once. It has such an overwhelmingly strong coffee and chocolate flavor you can barely swallow the bite (yet somehow it becomes addicting, like a sour candy you try to beat.)

Because of the results I hesitate to even post the recipe along with this post, but I’d be interested to hear any advice on where you think things might have gone wrong. Was the recipe inherently flawed as I suspect, or was it me?

Chocolate and Vietnamese Coffee Tart
Recipe by Pichet Ong in Chocolatier Magazine

Chocolate tart dough:

1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs (** I recommend using 1)

Place almonds and 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar in food processor fitted with metal chopping blade. Pulse until almonds are very finely ground. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the padle attachment, cream butter, cocoa powder, ground almonds and salt on medium speed until well-combined. Turn mixer to low and add remaining confectioners’ sugar and flour and mix well. Slowly add eggs and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Shape dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Position rack to center of oven and preheat oven to 350 F.

Using a rolling pin, roll dough between two sheets of lightly floured parchment or waxed paper until it is about 1/8″ thick and 13″ in diameter.

Rolling the dough

Transfer dough to tart pan, pressing against edges. Roll pin over top to remove excess dough.

Remove excess dough around the edges of the pan

Place a large sheet of parchment on top of dough and fill with dried beans or pie weights.

Using rice as weights

Bake for 20 minutes, remove paper and beans and continue to bake for another 20 minutes until dry. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Leave oven on and make ganache filling.

Chocolate-coffee ganache filling:

17 ounces bittersweet chocolate (66%), finely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely ground French roast coffee*
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

*Note: at the restaurant Chef Ong uses Boa Vietnamese coffee powder, which is roasted with caramel, cinnamon and star anise. Since it is difficult to find, we substituted a French roast coffee at his suggestion.

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine coffee, cream, condensed milk and salt to a simmer, whisking constantly. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve on top of chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth, then whisk in eggs until smooth and shiny. Pour into baked tart shell and place tart on baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until filling is just slightly jiggly in the center. Place tart on wire rack and cool completely.

Pastry Chef Pichet Ong
Spice Market
403 W. 13th St.
New York, NY
(212) 675-2322


fin says on August 14th, 2005 at 3:42 pm:

I am licking the computer monitor right now….

mika says on August 14th, 2005 at 6:02 pm:

That looks intensely chocolatey. Yumm!

boo_licious says on August 15th, 2005 at 5:36 am:

I was excited when I read someone had attempted this recipe (you’re the first person I clicked on ronald’s list) as I have the same Chocolatier issue you have.

I’m sorry I can’t help you on what went wrong but when I do have the time, I will try and make it once I have sourced for Viet Coffee. I know the Vietnamese restaurants serve it but I have yet to see it sold.

chandra says on August 15th, 2005 at 9:54 am:

I know what you mean on the coffe and chocolate tase being overwhelming… The Jolt Cake I made is insane… I couldnt even come close to eating a whole piece. It’s just too much…
Next time I bake with coffee, I am going to try and leave chocolate out of the mix…. The tart LOOKS fabulous…Sorry it didnt taste so great!! Better luck next time!

Lisa says on August 16th, 2005 at 9:31 am:

Well it looks absolutely divine!

Jennifer says on August 16th, 2005 at 12:36 pm:

Kelli – the tart looks amazing…I wonder what went wrong with the recipe. I am curious to find out because chocolate and coffee for me is such an amazing combination…!

Kelli says on August 16th, 2005 at 12:50 pm:

Thanks everyone. I wonder what went wrong too. Hopefully boo licious can help after trying it.

keiko says on August 16th, 2005 at 3:34 pm:

Hi Kelli – I’m sorry you weren’t happy with the result, it looks perfect nontheless… The combo of chocolate and coffee is something I just can’t give up!

Lindsey says on August 25th, 2005 at 1:49 pm:

The only thing I can think of is that the tart dough is intended to me more of a cookie dough than a typical pastry crust. My recommendation would be just to use the egg yolks. Defintiely going to have to try the recipe though!

Situ says on November 28th, 2005 at 7:53 pm:

I found this recipe through the last issue of Bon Appetit, not Chocolatier.I made this with espresso powder, not French roast. I also found the dough to taste a bit peculiar. The fillingon the other hand was amazing..especially 3 days after first making it. It was creamier than ever.

Jessica "Su Good Eats" says on June 19th, 2007 at 10:07 pm:

Hi Kelli,
Pong’s book, The Sweet Spot, seems to have corrected the recipe (available at http://dessertfirst.typepad.com/dessert_first/2007/06/post_2.html). The tart dough calls for one egg, and the filling has less chocolate and coffee. I think it’s safe to make now.

Pavel K. says on March 1st, 2009 at 4:08 pm:

I tried to do it home. It is really amazing! You should definitely try it.

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Lovescool is the documentation of a journey to discover what sweet things are out there, why people love them so much, and perhaps what it takes to start something new.

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An interest, that turned into a blog, that turned into a career. Kelli Bernard is now the owner and baker of Amai Tea & Bake House.

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