Eric Lanlard’s West Indies Chocolate Tart

West Indies Chocolate Tart via http://underthebluegumtree.comIf 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.


  1. strongassoup

    Interesting recipe – it looks lovely and indulgent. Twenty minute prep has to be a bit of joke, though, surely. I’m not that fond of cinnamon but I can’t trace it back to a plastic-wrapped pastry. I’m wondering if it might be due to some very bad spiced buns .that we had as kids, though. They weren’t nice but they were very cheap and affordable on pocket money.

  2. It doesn’t do justice? I’m drooling while I’m reading this. It’s absolutely beautiful! I never had star anise in any dessert –this is interesting. Thanks for posting!

  3. I’m sure I’ve torn the recipe for this tart out of a magazine recently! I think your photos absolutely do it justice – it looks and sounds delicious and would be the perfect way to spice up Christmas!

    • Thanks so much. Definitely worth a go if you have the recipe. It’s quite a good one for developing pastry skills (not that you need help in that area!). I’d never made nougatine before and the texture of the ganache was really wonderful.

    • Thanks for your kind comment. As I say, I can do cinnamon sticks but ground cinnamon, yeurgh! A bit contrary I know. A little bit of ground cinnamon in this tart was good – it complemented the chocolate really well. But I don’t think it was enough to convert me to full scale ground cinnamon usage🙂

  4. Your photographs are fantastic and I want nothing more than to dive into this tart face first. How awful to be deprived of the wonders of cinnamon due to hideous pastries forced down in childhood. I did notice, however, that you managed to say this tart was one of the tastiest ever, so maybe things are improving. Thank you for joining in with We Should Cocoa despite your aversion – I am off to look at the recipe now. Happy New Year.

  5. I agree, your photos look much more appealing. I have to confess that I usually skip over the blurb before a recipe (I’m usually in too much of a hurry to get to the food!) but I read every word you wrote above and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I even chuckled a few times, thank you!🙂

  6. Wow, I was just thinking how stunning your photos were and then you say they don’t do the tart justice. It must have been a stunning tart then! I’d love to try cocoa pastry but haven’t mastered (or even tried) normal pastry yet. It just looks so good. Really glad you were able to find something cinnamon that you liked – I’m a bit off-and-on with cinnamon – sometimes it just seems right, and sometimes it’s dusty and overwhelming. I tend to prefer mixed spice – a large proportion of which is cinnamon, but it just seems better in a blend.

    • Thanks for your kind words. You should make 2013 the year you make pastry. It’s honestly not too hard and the more you make it, the more you get a feel for it. I’ve made it so many times now that I know when it’s going wrong and how to rescue it but that only comes with practice. Start with a savoury shortcrust – that’s easy. Sweet pastry is a bit of a different beast🙂

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