How did the chocolate Montezuma drank taste like? After a day on the temple, did he sip his chocolate ‘all frothed up’ and plan following’s day ritual sacrifices ?
Chocolate was one of the oddities the Spanish conquistadores encountered in the Court of the Aztec Emperor.
Cortez loved chocolate, and reported back home to Charles V about the ‘divine drink’. Spaniards however were not convinced at first – it was probably too bitter-, but after some attempts involving wine and spices soon mixed it with sugar, vanilla and milk and chocolate took off, making its way to other Habsburg territories and beyond.
Fast-forward 500 years and a completely different setting. A dessert developed to be eaten in warm bourgeois (Salzburgian) houses of central Europe: Chocolate tart. Chocolate had been tamed for much of its european trajectory – too sweet, too much vanilla (extract) and milk. In the last decades chocolate desserts became more bitter and dark, closer to the original spirit of ‘xocolatl’.
For the pastry
- 150g softened butter, cubed
- 3 Tbsp lukewarm water
- 250g all purpose flour
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 pinch sea salt
For the chocolate filling
- 300g good quality dark chocolate (66% cocoa solids)
- 2 eggs
- 350ml heavy cream
- 150ml milk
For the pastry put the flour, salt and butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and combine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Change to the hook attachment and add the lukewarm water and the egg yolks. Continue mixing until dough comes together to form a ball. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface until approximately 3mm thick.
Butter a 23cm fluted tart tin (with removable bottom, if you have one), line with the pastry and gently push it into the base and edges,allowing the excess to hang by 1cm over the sides.* Prick all over the base of the tart with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Cut a large circle of baking parchment and scrunch it up a couple of times. Lay it over the pastry base, fill with beans or coins and bake for approximately 20 minutes before removing the beans or coins and parchment. Return the pastry case to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove the tart tin from the oven, let cool a little and then, using a sharp knife, cut the excess pastry from around the top of the tart tin.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. When it begins to bubble, remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk well until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Cool slightly.
Beat the whole eggs, then add them to the chocolate mixture, whisking energetically to prevent the eggs from cooking.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart shell and bake for 18 minutes. The filling should be set, but still wobbly in the centre.
* I usually store the leftover dough in a plastic wrap in the freezer for later use.