The lockdown gave rise to a new social group: mothers of kids that had to be homeschooled and kept busy within social acceptable norms. A number of tricks where utilised to keep us mothers relatively sane: memes in social media, zoom chats, cooking, alcohol.
Birthdays were a challenge. We did the best we could. Our son celebrated his over zoom with his classmates. They sung happy birthday, he blew the candles of his cake. Then, as the lockdown eased, we repeated the process with his grandfather, his godparents and then his grandmother in separate sessions. I am sure he is aware of the absurdity, but, given the presents, he plays along.
As of the cakes, and given that our assembly skills are a little rusty to build the Millennium Falcon or Darth Vader, the two variations we baked was a multi coloured cake so our son could choose the colours (white, brown, red, blue ) and participate in the process, and a chocolate tart.
We first had this chocolate tart from Arpi, a good friend and mother of two with similar challenges. She baked and brought it at a playdate in more care-free times. She was kind enough to give the recipe, and we have to say it is the best chocolate tart we have baked.
For the tart shell
- 115g unsalted butter, softened
- 115g unrefined caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp coarsely grated salt
- 115g all purpose flour (sifted)
- 30g unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
For the filling
- 350g whipping cream
- 350g good quality dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
- 50g unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
For the tart shell, combine the butter and unrefined sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, about 5 minutes until light and creamy. Add the flour, cocoa and salt and mix well until combined. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll out between two sheets of baking parchment 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 (or even better freeze if there is room in your freezer) 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 10 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 and set aside.
For the ganache, place the chopped chocolate into a bowl.
Heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t scorch. The cream is ready when it reaches 90°C, right below the boiling point or you can tell the cream is warm when it just begins to bubble and is hot to the touch.
Pour the warm cream over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Add the butter (and the brandy if using) and keep stirring until shiny.
Pour into the tart shell and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to allow the ganache to set.