If there is one spice that I’m really not fond of it’s ground cinnamon. This aversion is deep rooted in my childhood when, on a family trip to Florida, I was forced to eat the free hotel breakfast; a Danish pastry which came in a plastic packet. Even at the tender age of eight I knew that pre-wrapped patisserie was a bad idea but sadly my mum didn’t agree. With threats to revoke my daily trip to see Mickey and co. ringing in my ears, I had to sit and choke down one of the stale, cinnamon-laced pastries every morning. To this day a strong whiff of ground cinnamon has the power to make me heave.
So when I heard that the theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge hosted by Chocolate Log Blog was cinnamon, my heart did sink a little. However whilst I might loathe ground cinnamon, I don’t mind the spicy warmth of a cinnamon stick. So I figured this West Indies chocolate tart from Eric Lanlard’s new book “Tart It Up!” might do the trick.
I’ve had my eye on this recipe ever since I bought Eric’s book. A cocoa pastry crust filled with a chocolate ganache spiced with cinnamon and star anise then topped with an almond and coffee nougatine, it looks and sounds rather splendid. I actually bought all the ingredients once before but then chickened out of baking it. On re-reading the recipe, however, I saw that it only needed 20 minutes of prep time. How hard could it be?
This is the point where I snort derisively and say Eric must be using the same stopwatch that Jamie O uses for his 15/30 minute meals. Twenty minutes? Yeah, right. With a team of kitchen fairies, maybe. Twenty minutes in and my kitchen was a hot mess of cocoa powder and molten sugar. Plus I was a bit vexed with Eric as my nougatine looked NOTHING like the picture in the book. As hard as I squint at Eric’s photo I can’t see any evidence that he used almonds in his despite the ingredients stating otherwise.
I also had problems with the ganache – I found it much too bitter for my taste and couldn’t taste the spices so I added a hefty dose of golden syrup (subbed for glucose) and a pinch of both five spice and (god forbid) ground cinnamon.
Despite my reservations, this tart turned out to be glorious and sadly my photos don’t do it justice. It was a serendipitous decision to make a Cointreau and date ice-cream on the same day as together they form one of the best dessert combos I have ever eaten. Seriously, if I had been given this in an über posh restaurant, I would have been a happy girl. The pastry was crisp, the ganache as silky as I have ever had and the crunchiness of the nougatine took the whole thing to another level.
Be warned though, this is a seriously rich dessert and even for a glutton like me, a small sliver was enough. If you want a winning dessert and are prepared to get messy in the kitchen then give this tart a go. You can find a copy of Eric’s recipe here.