Une histoire de tarte au chocolat et oranges sanguines

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , , , Written on le Saturday 24 January 2015.

[A story of chocolate tart and blood oranges]

chocolate tart orange

The story of this chocolate tart is a simple one. It all started when a friend asked me to show him how to make one.

So we mixed butter and sugar. Added eggs and flour and cocoa powder. And of course salt, because a chocolate tart can never be perfect without salt. We lined an entremet ring (this is the only way I like my tarts these days: allowing way more control over the height of the filling) with the dough and blind-baked it until the shiny pâte sucrée became matte and crisp. We lowered the oven temperature and got on with the chocolate crémeux. Cream and milk (and salt) brought to the boil and poured over milk and dark chocolate, which magically turned into a beautiful ganache. And eggs, just so.

chocolate tart naked

We had a slice. And with just a few other elements, we turned it into a du jour dessert.

That was months ago. And really, I knew that as soon as the first blood oranges would be around, this tart would have to come back. Just so I could show you.

Just like its story, it is a very simple dessert. One that could be made at home, for a birthday or a little unofficial dinner party.
In fact, you could make the tart alone. A Sunday afternoon sort of indulgence. Or the confit, for a glorious breakfast made of crêpes generously layered with the slightly bitter jam-ish.

In any case, here is the recipe. A celebration of an often overlook January. The Monday of the months, some even say. Well, I only have one thing to answer: blood oranges. Everywhere.

chocolate tart orange-2

Tarte au chocolat et oranges sanguines
This dessert might be simple but it has become a favourite with its good balance of rich and light, sour and sweet, creamy and sharp.


It has a few elements:
– the chocolate tart
– the blood orange confit
– the compote
– the blood orange segments
– the hazelnut streusel
– the salted hazelnuts
– the vanilla ice-cream

As I’ve just told you, you could make the tart alone. Perhaps serve it with segments and a scoop of ice-cream. Maybe you would have some tempered chocolate decors or a piece of cocoa nib nougatine. Just consider it as a blueprint for your own dessert.

I do realise, however, that it can seem a bit exhausting to make so many components at home. But really, many of them can be done well in advance (up to a month as I suggest below), and on the day when you want to serve the tart it will just be a matter of assembling.

chocolate tart case

The chocolate pâte sucrée: the dough is made, cut and frozen. Later that day, you can line your ring with the dough and keep it frozen until needed. The hazelnut streusel can be made and frozen; and the salted hazelnuts will keep for weeks in an airtight container.
The blood orange confit can be made and kept in the fridge for a good week. And the vanilla ice-cream, if you choose to make it (a high-quality ice-cream from the shop would do just fine too) can keep in the freezer for almost-ever.


So really, on the day you’ll just have to:
– blind-bake the tart case.
– make the chocolate crémeux and bake it.
– allow to the tart to cool down to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, then slice it using a knife dipped in hot water and dried with a cloth.
– bake the hazelnut streusel.
– cut the salted hazelnuts in half.
– make the blood orange compote, although this is barely necessary, I’ve offered two recipes: one with pectine NH nappage which can be a bit difficult to source and one with agar agar.
– segment a few oranges.

Tarte au chocolat et oranges sanguines

serves 16

up to a month ahead

for the chocolate pâte sucrée
125 g butter, at room temperature
125 g icing sugar
5 g salt
one egg
one egg yolk
250 g plain flour
50 g cocoa powder

Cream the butter, icing sugar and salt. Add the eggs and yolks. Finally add the flour. Roll in between two sheets of feuille guitare to around 4mm thick. Using your ring, cut out a 24cm wide disk. And 3 long strips, 3cm wide. Place in the freezer for at least a couple of hours.
Later that day, take the dough out from the freezer. Butter a 24cm ring, place it on a tray lined with paper and arrange the dough strips on the sides of the ring. Pressing slightly where two ends meet to close the dough in a perfect cylinder.
Trim the disk of dough slightly, perhaps a few mm around so that it fits in the ring. Don’t worry if you’ve cut too much as you can always push the dough so that it meets the edges. Run your finger around the corner to seal the case. Place it back in the freezer until ready to use.

for the hazelnut streusel
100 g plain flour
50 g ground almonds
50 g ground hazelnuts
100 g butter
75 g caster sugar
25 g demerara sugar
5 g salt
50 g chopped blanched hazelnuts

Mix all the ingredients together in the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until it just starts to form a dough. Grate using a rack and freeze.

for the salted hazelnuts
500 g water
20 g coarse salt
250 g whole blanched hazelnuts

Bring the water and salt to the boil. Add the hazelnuts and simmer for 20 minutes. Roast at 150°C for around 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.


up to a week ahead

for the blood orange confit
250 g blood oranges
120 g caster sugar
100 g blood orange juice
25 g glucose syrup
one vanilla pod
, sliced in half
20 g Grand Marnier

Blanch the oranges three times for 3 minutes in boiling water, refreshing in iced water in between each. Place the oranges in the fridge overnight. Slice thinly, around 3 to 4mm thick, then cut each slice in half. Place in a pan along with the sugar, juice, glucose syrup and vanilla pod. Bring to the boil, and simmer until it reaches 103°C. Chill, then add the Grand Marnier.

for the vanilla ice-cream
860 g milk
275 g UHT cream
80 g skimmed milk powder
7 g sea salt
3 vanilla pods
140 g caster sugar
80 g dehydrated glucose
50 g dextrose
8 g stab 2000

Scrape the vanilla pods, then chop the pods into 5mm segments. Warm milk, cream and vanilla to 40°C. Mix all the dry ingredients together and whisk in the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 min. Handblend. Chill overnight and pass through a fine mesh sieve. Churn according to your ice-cream machine manufacturer’s instructions.


on the morning

for the chocolate crémeux
270 g Valrhona Jivara 40%
230 g Valrhona Andoa 70%
300 g UHT whipping cream
200 g milk
5 g salt
150 g eggs
(around 3)

Blind bake the tart case at 160°C for 20 minutes, then remove the baking weight and add 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 90°C.

Place the chocolates in a large bowl. Bring the milk, cream and salt to the boil. Pour onto the chocolate in 3 times, emulsifying with a maryse. Handblend without incoporating any air. Add the eggs and handblend until smooth. Weigh out 1kg, and pour into the blindbaked case when it’s still hot. Bake at 90°C, fan 2 for around 55 minutes, until just set and barely jiggly. Allow the tart to cool down to room temperature and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to firm up.

for the blood orange compote
250 g blood orange juice
20 g trimoline
10 g caster sugar
3 g pectine NH nappage

Bring the juice and trimoline to 40°C. Combine the caster sugar and pectine. Add to the juice and bring to the boil. Simmer for 4 minutes. Chill.

250 g blood orange juice
10 g caster sugar
2.5 g agar agar

Bring the juice to 40°C. In a bowl, combine the sugar and agar agar. Add to the juice and bring to the boil. Simmer for 4 minutes. And transfer into a plastic container to set. Once chilled, blitz in a blender until smooth.


for the blood orange segments
3 blood oranges

Bake the streusel.
Bake at 155°C for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut the hazelnut in half.
Using the tip of a small paring knife, break the hazelnuts in half.


to serve
Fill your sink with hot water and dip your knife in it for a few seconds. Wipe the blade clean making sure the sharp egde isn’t facing your fingers, and slice the tart in sixteen, rinsing and wiping your knife in between each slice. Ideally, keep the slices at room temperature for a few hours before serving.

Smudge some compote onto a plate, then place a slice of tart on top. You might want to give the tart a quick flash with a blowtorch to make it shiny again.
Arrange some segments around the compote, then a few pieces of streusel and salted hazelnuts. Finally, arrange three of four strands of confit, and place a small quenelle of vanilla ice-cream onto crumbled streusel (so that the ice-cream won’t move around).

PS. Let me know if you enjoy this kind of articles, and I might tell you more dessert stories. x

Un week end pluvieux, et des croissants un peu comme des kanelbullar

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , Written on le Saturday 10 January 2015.

[A rainy weekend, and croissants, not unlike kanelbullar]

cinnamon bun croissant-2

There was that weekend, many-many months ago. I had told you about the days when blogs were not so editorially perfect and how I miss them; about the two crumpets with raspberry jam that I had had for an early afternoon breakfast; and about how we’d moved the kitchen table by the window and took way too many pictures.

Because, you see, my book was coming out the day after. And I guess that – as pretty much the entire universe – when I’m about to step in the unknown I like to delve a bit deeper in my comfort zone.
It might be just a breath. Or as it happened, it might be croissants.

There is this one thing I know for sure though. It’s that there are many rainy weekends ahead of us. And really, I thought I’d take you with me.
A time machine of some sorts.

Making the détrempe under the grey light of a drenched morning.
Rolling turns later that day during the blue hour.
And waking up to gold through our windows to finish shaping the croissants.

By twelve, we had hot coffee – much hotter than I’d usually care for, and freshly baked croissants. And perhaps, you’ll have some too.

This recipe doesn’t make traditional croissants. But more of a beautiful cross between a kanelbulle and a croissant. Soft and slightly flaky, as I only gave the dough two simple turns, as opposed to my usual croissant routine: three simple turns. In fact, a look at the insides will give it away: the membranes are thicker, and cinnamon speckles dot them throughout.

cinnamon bun croissant-3

Perhaps, if you want to, I could make some regular flaky croissants, just like the ones I grew up on, and show you too. Yes, croissants are nothing new. But I guess, in the constant chaos that surround us all, there is still some wisdom left.

The ingredients.

for the détrempe
300 g strong flour
200 g plain flour
80 g caster sugar
12 g instant yeast
10 g milk powder
10 g sea salt
250 g cold water
45 g butter
, melted and cooled down

for the butter
300 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

for the glaze
200 g icing sugar
boiling water
seeds from one vanilla pod

01 make the dough
twelve pm.
Mix the flours, sugar, yeast, milk powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold water and butter; and mix until a dough starts to form.

ten minutes past twelve pm.
Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead for around ten minutes or until the dough feels elastic and smooth.

03 until smoothish
twenty minutes past twelve pm.
Place the dough back in the bowl and clingfilm tightly. Leave in a warmish place for an hour or so, or until doubled in size.

04 make the butter
twenty-five minutes past twelve.
While the yeast is working in magic, work yours with the butter. In a bowl, mix the soft butter (you could flash it in the microwave for ten seconds at a time until soft but not melted) with the ground cinnamon. Perhaps a pinch of cardamom too.

05 make the butter-2
half past twelve.
Scrape the butter onto a piece of piece of baking paper and top with another one. Roll it until you get a rough 40x30cm rectangle. Transfer to a baking tray and chill in the fridge.
Have a cup of coffee. And kisses. And maybe, even tickles down your neck. I highly recommend the latter. That’s what dream-Sundays are made of.

06 the dough after proving
half past one.
The détrempe is proved when it’s almost doubled in size. When you take it, it will be very smooth and elastic.

half past one.
Place the détrempe onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a rough rectangle. Wrap in clingfilm and freeze for twenty-five minutes to stop the yeast. Then transfer to the fridge and let it be for a few hours.

08 roll the detrempe
five o’clock.
Tea time for some. And feuilletage for others. I can’t help but feel a little sad for the former who’ll never know the calmness only rolling dough can bring.
Take out the butter sheet on your bench to soften it ever so slightly. Place the détrempe onto a lightly floured work surface and roll to a 40x60cm rectangle. Flour more as needed but always make sure to brush off the excess afterwards.

09 place butter
ten past five.
Place the rectangle of butter on the lower half of the détrempe – patching it as you do so to cover any naked corner – then fold the upper half over.

fitfteen minutes past five.
Flatten the dough with your hands to get rid of any air bubbles, and rotate counter-clockwise so that you have a “book” its spine on your left hand-side.

11 roll the dough
twenty minutes past five.
Roll the dough before the first turn.

11 roll-the-dough
For that, I like to press my rolling pin into the dough to create some indents. This step – if done gently yet with sufficient pressure – allows to distribute the butter evenly.
I then start rolling the dough in long movements, from the centre up and then from the centre down. Those two techniques can be applied to any laminated dough.
If the dough starts to stick, don’t hesitate to flour your work bench and reposition the dough.

12 croissant-first-turn
twenty-five minutes past five.
Once the dough has been rolled to – ideally – around seven millimetres, brush off any excess flour, and fold in three, like you would do with a letter.
This is a tour simple [simple turn].

Wrap the dough tightly in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

twenty-five minutes past five (of the am kind).
I went for another simple turn as I’ve told you before. Because fluffy meant something special to me that day, or so it seems.
Of course Karl wouldn’t wake up, so pictures didn’t happen, but here is what I did: I rolled the dough to around seven millimetres thick, then folded it in three, exactly like shown above.
After that, I placed the dough back in the fridge – again, wrapped in clingfilm.
If you wanted a flakier texture, I would advise to go for another tour simple [simple turn] now.

13 cut the dough
half past six (of the am kind).
Get two baking trays lined with baking paper.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a rough thirty-centimetre-wide rectangle. Cut the dough in half width-wise (if that’s even a thing) and place one half onto one of the prepared baking trays. Chill while you get on with the other half.
This will make the dough easier to handle and roll thinner, while the other part stays cool.

Keep on rolling the dough, maintaining a width of around thirty centimetres, until it’s about four or five millimetre-thick.
Cut triangles using a sharp knife, making sure their base is eight to ten centimetre wide.
As you cut the triangles, place them onto the prepared baking tray; and keep in the fridge until needed.

Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the other half of dough.

seven am.
Get two baking trays lined with baking paper.

Take out a couple of dough triangle out at a time. Gently stretch them, then roll without putting any pressure on the layers. And place them with the “point” underneath on the prepared baking tray, generously spaced out.

15 make a double layer of clingfilm
twenty minutes past seven.
Layer two large pieces of clingfilm, chasing any air bubbles and lightly brush with vegetable oil.

16 proof
twenty-five minutes past seven.
Place the layered clingfilm – oiled side down – on top of your croissants, to cover them loosely. Allow to prove at room temperature for around two hours or until wobbly and doubled in size.
If butter starts leaking, then you might want to find a slightly cooler place to prove your croissants. If I’m at the restaurant, then 26°C is the temperature I go for (with 65% humidity for the ones of you who are lucky enough to have a prover).

Once the croissants have proved, brush gently with a beaten egg, making sure not to put any egg-wash on the cut edges, which would prevent the rise of the feuilletage.

Bake at 200°C for seventeen to twenty minutes. Allow to cool down slightly, then transfer to a wire rack.

17 glaze
ten thirty.
Make the sugar and vanilla glaze: mix the icing sugar with enough water to form a pourable icing; stir in the vanilla seeds, and drizzle over the croissants.

THE END. Of life as you knew it.

That was Christmas – Zimtstern à la cannelle

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Monday 05 January 2015.


We found a tree, just a few nights before Christmas. A bit of a happy coincidence. Not that we hadn’t looked everywhere before. Sold out or cheap plastic.

And there it was, still wrapped in some sort of net. We named it Charlie; forgot about the pizza we’d set off to eat, and proceeded to carry it home on K’s shoulder across London. We stopped at the shop, the one around the corner, and got a pizza there. Twenty minutes later, we sliced into it, and later that night, we let the multi-coloured lights (with a green chord and cone-like bulbs; that remind me so so much of the ones my grand-mother brought back with her and her children when they moved back from Tahiti to France) lullaby us to sleep.


And at that exact moment. With our legs twisted inside each other and the twinkling lights and the smell of forest filling our room. That was Christmas. My Christmas.

But really, I’m not sure why I’m telling you that.

You see, I had amazing plans for this year. I wanted to share with you my favourite – old and new – recipes for biscuits to bake during those nights made of wool socks and candles and mulled wine and peeks through the window wishing for snow.
But before I even knew it, Christmas had well gone. Not that we still have Charlie in our bedroom. Perhaps, we’ll go to the park at the end of our street one night, and dig through the earth to make him a new home.

So we’ll have to make it an extended Christmas this year. Recipes from another time for the one to come maybe; if you don’t mind.


After all, I went to every possible shop to find the perfect star cookie cutter. Buying anything star-shaped that came my way. And I no have many. Possibly six too many.
One thing I know for sure though, you won’t have too many zimtsterns. Ever.

Zimtstern à la cannelle
Adapted from Mingou’s beautiful zimstern (via Pauline, the must-visit source for anything Christmas biscuit related)

Just like we’re not in Kansas anymore, Christmas is far gone. However, as I write this, a couple of weeks after it all happened (for us, it was a delicious lunch at the pub with a little too much wine and a lot too-much laughs), I’m snuggled in bed with Ash in my ears and the comforting thought of many biscuits – cut and arranged in plastic containers – ready to be baked at any time. In fact, as long as we have Charlie on and a wreath on our door, I’m not planning on giving up on the holidays.


Zimtstern(s?) are new to me. And really, when I first saw them, I knew they were going to be something special. Beautiful chewy, with a subtle cinnamon flavour. A bit like a macaron and yet not quite.
Mingou’s recipe isn’t traditional as it calls for flour. I guess it makes them a little bit cakier (in a good way) and way easier to work with.

I made the soft dough and rolled in – still in between two sheets of baking paper – then cut it and baked it for barely ten minutes. As Mingou says, it’s definitely better not to overbake them as they’ll turn quite hard. The edges will just start to brown slightly when they’re ready.


As they cool down, make the glaze, a simple royal icing; I wanted to add vanilla, but then I forgot, although it would make a lovely finishing touch. Next time, tomorrow perhaps?

When it comes to dipping the biscuits in, place them in the icing, then go up and down to get rid of the excess. Finally you can tap the biscuit slightly on your table to smooth the glaze.


Zimtstern à la cannelle

makes around 50 small biscuits

200 g ground almonds
100 g icing sugar
60 g caster sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp maldon sea salt
160 g plain flour
2 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the egg whites and mix until it forms a dough. Roll in between two sheets of baking paper to around 8mm thick. Cut out using your favourite cutter, from what I’ve seen, the must is a six-point star, something that seemed to be absolutely unfindable in my corner of the world.
Arrange the biscuits onto the prepared baking trays and bake for around 10 minutes, or until slightly puffed up and the edges just begin to brown (ever so slightly).
Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool down completely.

for the royal icing

2 egg whites
380 g icing sugar
seeds from one vanilla pod

Prepare the icing by mixing the egg whites with the icing sugar until smooth. It should be soft to touch, but not too runny. Gently dip the top of one biscuit into it, then remove, allowing the icing to drip for a couple of seconds. Place back onto the baking sheet, iced-side up. Repeat with the remaining biscuits and allow them to set at room temperature for a couple of hours.

The zimtsterns will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.