I once ate a chocolate chip cookie that fell in the dirt. I wash ziplock bags and reuse them. I like taking the second-to-last item on a dish so someone else will feel guilty about taking the last one.
Up until I visited my first food blog three years ago, “I like to eat Nutella straight off my finger” would have joined the list of culinary confessions above. I was so crazy about that chocolate-hazelnut spread that I Googled it, which brought me to Il Forno’s post about Nutella’s 40th birthday. After reading about Nutella’s history in detail, I no longer felt like a nut. I may eaten a jar of Nutella in one week, but one girl finished it by the spoonful over three days.
Another case in point: Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Shelley from At Home in Rome solemnly declare today “World Nutella Day” – a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.
I made a Nutella tart from Pierre Herme, known worldwide as the Picasso of Pastry. When I went to Paris last November, I bought a 6 Euro slice of cake and a 2 Euro macaroon from his store. Boy, were they worth it. All the textures and flavors were perfectly balanced. That man is a culinary engineer.
The recipe was first posted on Il Forno’s site. It’s a mouth-shattering crust with a layer of Nutella, bittersweet chocolate cream, and toasted hazelnuts. A couple notes:
- Use unsalted butter, or the salt will overpower the chocolate. If you only have regular butter, you can be a smart aleck and call it “salted chocolate hazelnut tart” (not that it’s my thing).
- Drizzle the butter into the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly. The mixture will want to split because it’s so greasy. I actually think silken tofu would make a fine substitute, but that’s another post.
- You only need half the amount of hazelnuts called for: a half cup.
- If you don’t have a tart pan, form the dough in a 9-inch springform pan, making the sides 1-inch tall.
- People have complained that Herme’s tart dough is difficult to work with, so here’s a recipe from Into to Fine Baking at The New School’s Culinary Arts program.
Lynn’s Tart Dough – Pate Brisee aux Oeufs (French Pastry Dough with Eggs)
by Lynn Kutner
This dough is a dream to work with: it hardly sticks and can withstand heavy rolling. The secret ingredient, an egg, enriches the dough.
Take the extra effort to blind bake the dough so it keeps its shape. Brushing the crust with egg wash and sugar will make it stay crispy.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg yolk (save the white to glaze the crust)
2 tablespoons ice water (a few more drops if necessary)
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. With your fingers, rub in the butter until the mixture feels mealy (small bits of butter are still visible). Aerate the dough with your hands as you work.
In a measuring cup, add the egg yolk. Add water ALMOST to the 1/4 cup mark. (1/4 cup is the maximum total of egg and water)
Make a well in the flour-butter mixture and pour the liquid in the center. With a rubber spatula, flip the flour from the outside in. If the dough is too dry, break it up in the center and add a few more teaspoons of water.
Flatten the dough into a circle about 1/2″ to 3/4″-thick. Wrap in plastic and chill two hours to overnight.
If you chilled the dough overnight or froze it, let it sit at room temperature until it is pliable but not soft. If the dough cracks when you work it, let it heat up a little longer.
Lightly dust a rolling pin and work surface with flour. Roll the dough 1/8″-thick. Work from the center and roll in one direction, stopping just short of the edge. Turn the dough 90 degrees and continue till finished. Gently ease the dough into a tart mold and trim the edges. Cover with the surface plastic wrap or wax paper and freeze while you preheat the oven to 400 F.
When the oven is ready, prick the dough with a fork all over. Cover the dough with foil and weigh it down with raw dried beans, rice or metal pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly colored.
Remove the foil. In a small bowl, combine the leftover egg white and a couple teaspoons of water. Brush the egg wash on the crust and sprinkle with a couple teaspoons of sugar. Return the crust to the oven and bake for until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.