Say “Yes” if you think a chocolate ganache tart is absolutely amazing! I mean, what’s not to like, a sweet, crumbly base filled with chocolate goodness that melts in your mouth! Chocolate tarts are the “little black dress” of desserts! They are suitable for every occasion. Dress them up with some fancy chocolate toppings that are a mile high. Or show off their simplest and most basic look. I can’t say they will make you look skinnier though!
What Are The Components Of A Chocolate Ganache Tart?
In its most basic form, a chocolate tart is composed of a crust and a chocolate ganache.
The crust is usually a pâte sucrée or a pâte sablée. It can be the usual golden brown crust or a cocoa flavored one! Most people are used to the golden one and are pleasantly surprised when they see the darker version. You can pick whichever dough you prefer. But if you haven’t tried yet the chocolate version, I strongly suggest you do. I mean, chocolate flavor in the ganache AND the dough! It can’t get better than that! In case you missed it, there is a step-by-step tutorial on how to make chocolate shortcrust pastry.
The chocolate ganache
The chocolate ganache is essentially warm heavy cream poured in 3 times over chopped chocolate. Softened butter can be added for shine.
What are the characteristics of a ganache?
The ganache should be fluid enough for you to pour it easily into the molds at room temperature and have a smooth surface. It should look shiny and not dull. And finally, when refrigerated, it should firm up so that you can easily cut into the tart.
You only really need two ingredients: heavy cream and dark chocolate. But we’ll add a little bit of butter as well for an extra special ganache!
I was actually making half a portion when taking pictures so the weight of the ingredients pictured here is actually half of the amount written. In case you also decide to make half a portion, it is enough to fill about 5 small 8-cm tartlets.
What kind of chocolate to use?
Since the chocolate is the main hero in the ganache, I strongly recommend using a high-quality couverture chocolate that you really enjoy. I personally use 53% dark chocolate couverture. I just love the taste and it works really well for baking. It’s not overly sweet and not too dark.
Be careful with the percentage of cocoa you are using. If it’s too low, you will need to use less cream or else the ganache won’t firm up and will be slightly fluid even after refrigeration.
Chopping the chocolate
It’s best to chop the chocolate into very fine pieces so that it melts quickly and evenly when you add the warm cream. You can use a serrated knife to make the job easier. Just please be careful not to hurt your fingers!
Should the chocolate be melted?
You don’t have to melt the chocolate. You can just add the hot cream to the finely chopped chocolate. But if I’m using a very dark chocolate, I prefer melting the chocolate beforehand to get a smooth ganache.
The heavy cream
Preferably use heavy cream with 35% fat content for extra flavor. Using a low-fat cream will yield a runnier ganache that isn’t as creamy. If on the other hand, the fat content is too high, your ganache might separate.
How hot should the heavy cream be?
You shouldn’t boil the heavy cream or you run the risk of burning the chocolate once you combine them together. Heat it until it’s warm. You’ll see steam coming out of it and if you place your hand slightly over it (don’t touch it so you don’t burn!), it will feel warm.
How do I add the heavy cream to the chocolate?
Most French recipes I found state you should add the cream in 3 goes. I was wondering if that was really necessary and let me tell you, in my opinion, it is! Others might disagree and will add all the cream in one go. And they’ll probably still get a great ganache.
But when I add everything at once, I always end up with small pieces of undissolved chocolate. And mixing it just creates lots of bubbles in the ganache. I have to spend my time reheating the ganache in a double-boiler until everything has melted.
Why does this happen? Well, if you add all the cream to the chocolate, it cools down much faster since the chocolate isn’t hot. But if you add it little by little, the 2nd and 3rd batch of cream stay warm in the pot and finish melting whatever of the chocolate wasn’t already melted. Makes sense?
Do you have to add butter to the chocolate ganache?
No, you don’t have to. You could just make a chocolate ganache out of chocolate and cream. But the butter will soften the ganache and make it shinier.
Should the butter be at room temperature?
Yes, absolutely! And it should be cut up in very small pieces so that it easily dissolves in the ganache.
Preparing The Chocolate Ganache
- Chop the chocolate into very fine pieces so that it melts easily.
- Heat the heavy cream on medium heat until simmering but not boiling. If you add very hot cream to the chocolate, you run the risk of “burning” the chocolate.
- Add a third of the cream to the chopped chocolate and let it sit without stirring for about 2 minutes. The chocolate will start melting and you won’t have to mix as much later. Less mixing equals less air bubbles! Yay!
- Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate mixture. Start by making circles in the center of the bowl and move outwards.
- Add the remaining cream in 2 times and stir until the chocolate has fully melted.
- Add the softened butter and gently stir until fully incorporated.
Make sure your butter is very soft and cut into very small pieces. Mine wasn’t! I ended up with some butter that just wouldn’t melt. Normally I’d gently reheat everything in a double-boiler (see troubleshooting section below), but the kids were patiently waiting for me to finish so we could go to the park.
So I just strained the butter. I was in such a rush that I thought I would just strain it immediately into the tart shells. Well, you can tell from the mess below that it was a bad idea! If you do decide to strain the chocolate ganache (you probably won’t need to), strain it into a measuring cup and then pour it into the tart.
If you accidentally pour some ganache over the crust (or on the sides, if you are messy like me!), simply use your clean finger to wipe it off.
Tips For Pouring The Chocolate Ganache
- Pour the chocolate ganache into a measuring cup and then pour it into the tart. It will be much easier for you to avoid spilling it everywhere.
- Make sure you have space in your refrigerator before carrying the tart! Don’t try to make space in the fridge with one hand while the tart starts spilling everywhere! When I was a kid, my mum kept repeating: “Secure your road first!”.
- This is maybe a silly thing to say but make sure your fridge shelf is straight or doesn’t have edges. I had placed my tart once on one of the edges without noticing and ended up with more ganache on one side! It’s not such a big deal but why not get a perfect tart if you can!
- If you are filling a big tart, I would recommend filling it 2/3 of the way. Then once you place it in the fridge, continue filling it to the top, when you will no longer move it.
- Keep an eye out for your tart edges and make sure they are even before pouring the ganache. Sometimes one side might be lower than another and you’ll end up with chocolate leaking from the other side while you are happily filling away!
Troubleshooting The Ganache
The chocolate won’t melt
Your ganache isn’t smooth and you might notice pieces of chocolate in your ganache that just won’t melt. Solution: If this happens, you can heat the ganache on very low heat (or in a double-boiler) until it melts. Just keep in mind that the longer you heat it, the more water will evaporate and the thicker your ganache will become.
Air bubbles in the chocolate ganache
Too much air was incorporated while mixing.
- Mix gently and use a rubber spatula, not a whisk when mixing.
- When pouring the chocolate ganache into the tart, bring your bowl close to the tart shell. Don’t do it from a distance which will cause splashing.
Solution: If you haven’t poured your ganache yet, you could try straining it through a fine-mesh sieve.
Runny chocolate ganache
This could happen if you used a chocolate with a lower cocoa percentage. Solution: If using the same chocolate next time, use less cream to achieve the proper consistency. Or use more chocolate.
Thick chocolate ganache
Using a darker chocolate will yield a thicker ganache that is harder to spread in the tart. This could also happen if you reheated the chocolate ganache to melt the chocolate. Too much water evaporation will cause the ganache to thicken. Solution: Use more heavy cream next time if you wish to use the same chocolate. If you have trouble mixing that particular chocolate with the heavy cream, melt it beforehand.
Chocolate ganache didn’t flow smoothly into the tart
This might happen if your ganache is too thick (see previous point) or if you waited too long before filling your tart. Solution: Fill your tart as soon as the ganache looks smooth, before it starts setting.
And that’s it! So which tart crust did you decide to make? Are you going with the chocolate shortcrust pastry for a full chocolate profile? Or do you fancy more the contrast between the chocolate filling and the golden color of the pâte sucrée or pâte sablée? I can’t wait to find out!
Pfeiffer, J. & Shulman, M. R. (2013). The Art of French Pastry. Alfred A. Knopf.