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.
Transfer dough to tart pan, pressing against edges. Roll pin over top to remove excess dough.
Place a large sheet of parchment on top of dough and fill with dried beans or pie 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
403 W. 13th St.
New York, NY