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Chocolate Tart

Chocolate was first sold in England by a Frenchman in 1657 and it quickly became fashionable, leading to the growth of chocolate houses - meeting places for the influential. This chocolate was a thick drink made with milk and eggs and its consumption was, for a long time, confined to the wealthy - women especially. Chocolate was credited with many health-giving properties, including its ability to improve fertility and the chances of producing twins.
The eighteenth century saw a dramatic increase in the use of chocolate in sorbets, soups, puddings and tarts. The recipe I have used here dates from that century. It is a very simple ganache of boiled double cream and melted chocolate, which is then added to beaten eggs. This is a rich, sumptuous tart, and its dark appearance lends itself to decoration and adornment of your choice.

ingredients

serves 10
175 g (6 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
250 g (9 oz) very best dark chocolate (continental brand, preferably)
350 ml (12 fl oz) double cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon good instant coffee
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

method

1. Line a shallow 23cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

2. Chop the chocolate into small pieces, either by hand using a thick kitchen knife, or put it into the food processor and chop using the pulse button. Put it into a large bowl.

3. In a saucepan, heat the cream just to boiling point, then take it off the heat immediately and pour the cream into the bowl over the chopped chocolate. Whisk the cream and chocolate together, using a fork or hand whisk. You will notice the mixture becoming darker and you will think it is about to set. But it won't. Whisk in the cinnamon or instant coffee, then put the mixture to one side and leave until tepid.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolk together for just a few seconds. Continue beating while you pour in the tepid melted chocolate and cream ganache. Scrape the sides of the bowl so that all the delicious chocolate is mixed with the eggs. The mixture will now be quite liquid. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pre-baked pastry case.

5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until set, but with the centre still looking a bit soft and wobbly.

Serve at room temperature with a bowl of fresh mixed berries such as blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.

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