I admit that my first instinct when thinking of Halloween recipes is to go for things that involve pumpkin, like pumpkin pie and pumpkin donuts. But chocolate is such an important part of the holiday (we all know it’s true) that a chocolate dessert seems to be just as good a fit, assuming that you can take more chocolate after all those snack-sized candy bars.
This tart, I think, is perfect for Halloween. Topped with a giant spiderweb – which will probably match any spooky decorations you put up at home – how could it not be?
It starts with a pre-baked bate brisee tart crust and is filled with a dark chocolate ganache. The spiderweb design is made by piping concentric circles of melted white chocolate onto the surface of the dark ganache and pulling a toothpick through the rings to make the connective webbing. The trick to getting the a clean spiderweb is to try and make sure that the white chocolate and the ganache are at the same consistency and temperature when you go to finish the design; the filling needs to be very warm, as does the white chocolate. I used an orange plastic spider to finish off the spiderweb look of my tart, but feel free use a chocolate or candy spider, if you can find one. Leave off the decorative spider entirely if you want to serve it at other times during the year.
The tart can set at room temperature, but will harden much faster in the refrigerator. Once finished, it is basically a divinely dark chocolate truffle with a pastry shell attached – and will be pure heaven for anyone who loves chocolate truffles. It is very rich and should be served in small, thin slices. Whether you choose to serve it near room temperature or straight from the fridge is entirely up to you. I like it both ways, and have served this tart to people with a clear preference for one way over the other, so just do what works for you. And, as is the case with most chocolate desserts, it works extremely well when served with hot coffee.
Spiderweb Tart (Chocolate Ganache Tart)
1 10-inch bate brisee tart crust, baked and cooled
12-oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-oz white chocolate, chopped
Place chopped chocolate (a chipper is useful for this) into a large mixing bowl.
In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a near-boil (steam will rise rapidly from the cream and small bubbles might form near the edges of the pan). Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and stir with a whisk until very smooth. Whisk in vanilla extract.
If there are still chunks of chocolate, you can place the bowl over a double boiler (a small pot of just-simmering water) and stir until all the chocolate is melted.
Before you pour the chocolate ganache into the tart shell, melt the white chocolate in a small bowl (short intervals in the microwave and frequent stirring, if you don’t want to use a double boiler) and transfer to a pastry bag.
Pour the ganache into the tart shell and smooth with a spatula, spreading filling to the edges of the tart. Pipe melted white chocolate into concentric circles (5-7, or so) on top of the ganache. The circles don’t have to be perfect – after all, the idea of the spiderweb at halloween is that it looks a bit spooky. Insert a toothpick at the center of the tart and gently drag it through the filling, towards the edges of the tart. Repeat at regular intervals to make a spiderweb design. You can also try alternating and dragging the toothpick from the edge of the tart into the center.
If you have a plastic spider (which I did), insert into the center and leave tart to set, otherwise just let the tart set for at least 2 hours at room temperature or 1 hour in the fridge.
Store the tart in the fridge, if not serving soon after making.