Off To Italy! And Chocolate Hazelnut Tarts

Tomorrow Roy and I are off to Italy for a 6 week adventure. We will be sightseeing, walking the way of St. Francis from La Verna to Rome, and eating lots of wonderful food! SO, for the next few weeks I will be posting from various regions throughout Italy including Florence, Lucca, Volterra, Assisi, Rome, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast. I’ll include recipes such as pane Toscana (Tuscan bread), lemon olive oil cookies, torta Caprese bianca (a delicious lemon cake from Capri), and these chocolate hazelnut tarts. I hope you’ll enjoy this culinary journey through Italy and highlights from the trip as well!

The northern part of Italy grows some of the most delicious hazelnuts in the world. Since our Italian journey begins in Milan, rich, decadent chocolate hazelnut tarts seems the perfect way to begin!

The Recipe

by volume                                               by weight

crust:

10 tablespoons soft butter         140 grams soft butter

1/3 cup brown sugar                      66 grams brown sugar

2 large egg yolks                             36 grams egg yolks

3/4 cup all purpose flour             90 grams all purpose flour

3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts       130 grams chopped hazelnuts

1/3 cup cocoa powder                  39 grams cocoa powder

filling:

1¼ cups chopped                           220 grams chopped
bittersweet chocolate                 bittersweet chocolate

1¼ cups chopped gianduja       220 grams chopped gianduja

1 cup heavy cream                        227 grams heavy cream

 

Directions

To make the crust, beat the butter and the brown sugar together to combine.

Beat in the yolks and then add the flour, nuts, and cocoa.

Mix just to combine. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350F. Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick and transfer to individual tart pans or one large tart pan.

Cut circles with a round cutter if you are making individual tarts.

Use you fingers to gently ease the dough into the tart pan.

Trim the dough even with the top edge of the tart pan using the back of a knife or a small metal spatula.

Fill with beans or pie weights and bake approximately 20 minutes.

If you are making a large tart, remove the weights and bake 10 minutes longer until the crust is firm. Cool completely.

To make the filling, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolates. Whisk until smooth.

Let the filling cool slightly and pour into the crust.

Chill at least 3 hours until the filling is firm. Decorate with crushed, toasted hazelnuts.

 

Alternatives

These chocolate hazelnut tarts use gianduja which is milk chocolate that has been specially mixed with hazelnut paste. It is extremely smooth and creamy. Think solid Nutella! YUM! (If you absolutely cannot find gianduja you can make a substitute but it will not be quite as smooth and creamy. Grind toasted hazelnuts to a paste in the food processor and mix with and equal amount, by weight, of melted milk chocolate. (So, if you have 6 ounces of hazelnut paste mix it with 6 ounces of melted chocolate to make 12 ounces of gianduja.)

If you don’t care for hazelnuts, regular milk chocolate could be used in place of the gianduja. You could also make the gianduja with almonds by following the directions just above.

Serve this chocolate hazelnut tart in very thin slices as it is extremely rich. Fresh red berries and whipped cream would be a lovely addition to the plate.

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