This sophisticated Dark-Chocolate Walnut Tart is a great dessert for beginning bakers. The dough is similar to butter-cookie dough and is simply pressed into the tart pan, not rolled. Remember to start several hours ahead, as the shell has to chill before baking. Keep in mind that the better the chocolate, the better the outcome. This tart is rich and voluptuous, but not too sweet. Gild the lily by serving it with homemade whipped cream.
3/4 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk, cold
First, make the tart shell: Pulse the nuts and sugar several times in the bowl of a food processor until the nuts are powdery and finely ground. (Be careful here; if you go too far, you’ll get walnut butter.) Add the flour and salt and pulse once or twice to blend. Add the butter pieces and pulse until roughly pea-sized. Add the egg yolk and pulse a few times until the dough begins to come together.
Turn the crumbly dough out into a clean bowl, and use your fingertips to “knead” it lightly, rubbing together until the dough is uniformly moist. It should be sticky and crumbly, with no dry, floury patches. Using your fingers, press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Cover the shell with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Preheat your oven to 375°. Line the tart shell with parchment or foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights, and place on a baking sheet. Par-bake until the edges are just coloring and the bottom of the pastry shell begins to cook, 15 to 20 minutes. Gently remove the parchment (or foil) and pie weights. Return the shell to the oven and bake another 15 to 20 minutes. Watch closely! The tart shell can go from golden to burned very quickly. Remove it from the oven and let cool.
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Garnish: walnut halves
Next, make the filling: Using a serrated knife, chop the chocolate finely and pour the pieces into a medium-size bowl. Put the cream in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it just begins to steam; watch closely and don’t let it boil. (If you overheat the cream, the chocolate may separate.) Pour the hot cream immediately over the chocolate and add the salt. Let the mixture sit 5 to 10 minutes; then stir thoroughly to combine.
Cool the ganache until it has the consistency of very soft icing. Then pour it evenly into the cooled, pre-baked tart crust. Chill it in the refrigerator at least 1 hour to let the ganache set. To serve, top with toasted whole walnuts.