I had my mind set on sharing with you Pierre Herme’s famous shortcrust pastry for this last week of our tart calendar but I couldn’t find a chocolate version. So I tweaked it and to my greatest delight, the dough was really good. I will share with you the original recipe in a future post as it is a classic. But in the meantime, I hope you give this chocolate twist a try because you will not regret it!
This chocolate shortcrust pastry or pâte sucrée au chocolat is incredibly tasty filled with a chocolate ganache. You can use it to make fancy tarts but you can also turn it into sandwiched cookies, perfect for kids!
How To Give Chocolate Flavor To A Shortcrust Pastry?
Cocoa powder! Yes, that’s it. No need to melt chocolate here. How much cocoa to add depends on how dark or light you want the pastry to be and how much chocolate flavor you want. Just keep in mind that cocoa powder dries the dough a little so you don’t want to go overboard without adjusting the other ingredients.
If you want to follow your own recipe, you should know that cocoa powder is treated like flour in baking. So just replace a part of the flour with cocoa powder. But the best thing to do is start with a small amount that won’t affect too much the other ingredients, see how happy you are with the results and tweak again if needed. Just make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder.
What Other Flavorings Can Be Used?
I’m completely addicted to the chocolate-orange combo so I’m trying very hard not to scream: “Add orange, orange!!”. But if you are also a fan of this combination, I really suggest you give it a try. All you have to do is add some orange zest to get a fantastic smell in your kitchen and a taste reminiscent of Christmas (is it just me?).
When I tried the crust straight out of the oven (yes, I burned my tongue!), I thought the orange flavor was non-existent. But then I tried the finished tart a few hours later, when the orange flavor had fully developed and, oh my! It was incredible!
You can use other fruits if you prefer, such as lemon or lime. And you can even give the dough a mild nutty flavor by using almonds (or hazelnuts) as we will be doing in this recipe.
Preparing The Chocolate Shortcrust Pastry
Make sure the butter is very soft before you start. Mine actually wasn’t. I kept it at room temperature for about an hour but it was very early in the day and the kitchen wasn’t very warm. You should take it out at least two hours ahead if possible and cut it up in small pieces so it warms up quickly.
Creaming the butter
I was planning on just using the spatula to combine the ingredients but since the butter wasn’t soft enough, I ended up using the whisk.
- Cream the softened butter and the icing sugar until fully combined. It will look very creamy.
- Add the almond flour and combine.
- Grate the orange zest (if using) over the bowl.
- Add the vanilla extract and the room temperature egg.
I repeat! Room temperature egg! Yep, I messed up again with the temperature! My egg was still cold and I ended up with this! A curdled mess.
The truth is, you can still make a very tasty dough, even if this happens. It will just be harder to incorporate the ingredients so whisk a little more. And preferably use weights when baking as you might have introduced too many air bubbles.
Adding the dry ingredients
- Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl. I sifted them separately and then realized I should probably whisk everything together!
- Whisk the salt in.
- Empty the bowl with the dry ingredients onto a clean work surface and create a well in the middle.
If you don’t want to dirty your work area, you could keep everything in the bowl. You’ll have less space to work with but it is still doable of course, if that’s what you prefer.
Combining all the ingredients
- Pour the butter mixture in the middle of the well.
- Using a dough scraper (or a spatula), “cut” through the dough in small, repetitive, vertical movements.
- Gather the dough every now and then and keep cutting through it until it looks homogeneous and you are able to form a ball with it.
This step might take a while. The dough will seem very dry at first and impossible to combine but keep at it and you’ll end up with a nice smooth ball.
- Now that the dough is almost fully combined, it is time for “fraisage”. Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down away from you. Do this about 2 times (not more than 3) to get rid of any remaining butter pieces.
- Using your hand, flatten the dough into rectangle (or disk) on a piece of parchment paper.
Storing chocolate shortcrust pastry
- Wrap the dough well in parchment paper (or cling film).
- Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough as evenly as possible.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.
Lining The Tart Pan
The recipe in this post yields a lot of dough and it is better to work only with what you need. You may be wondering why. Well, firstly, it will be easier to roll out the dough if there is less. And secondly, you shouldn’t overwork it by rolling it out several times. This would cause too much gluten formation leading to a tough and elastic dough that shrinks in the oven.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut out the desired amount. If making a 23cm (9 inch) tart for example, you will need about 300 g of dough. The truth is, I just eyeball it most of the time because I can’t be bothered weighing the dough. I was planning on making four tartlets and cut out half the dough, which was a terrible approximation. But I got cookies out of it! I’ll show you in a bit!
- Freeze the remaining dough in a zip-lock bag and don’t forget to write down the name of the dough as well as the date you made it.
- Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to a thickness of about 3mm. If you find the dough too hard to work with, or if it starts cracking, it’s probably too cold (likely to happen if you left it in the fridge overnight). Let it warm up at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes and try again.
- For tartlets: Using a cookie cutter, cut out circles that are slightly larger than your tartlet pan. Make sure you have enough to cover the bottom and the sides of the pan.
- Line your tartlet pan.
- Using a knife, cut off the excess dough.
You could of course make a big tart. Just transfer the rolled out dough to the tart pan. Make sure it touches all the edges of the pan by gently pressing with your fingers. Use a rolling pin to cut off the excess dough.
- Freeze the tart for 15 minutes (or refrigerate it for 1 hour).
- Bake in the bottom third of the oven at 180°C (356°F), conventional setting for 20-30 minutes.
Chocolate Shortcrust Pastry Cookies
If you have kids circling you while you are trying to line your tart pan, give them some dough and some cookie cutters and you’ll get some awesome cookies!
And these cookies come in really handy when the kids (or you!) want to try the tart but don’t want to wait until you fill it! Plus the dough isn’t overly sweet. So it can’t really be counted as a dessert without the filling, right?
Speaking of filling, I’m super excited to tell you that next time we’ll be making a delicious chocolate ganache to fill our tart shells!
I hope you enjoy the recipe!