Coffee and chocolate are two of my favorite flavors, so when I saw the stunning photograph accompanying this coffee and chocolate tart in Maison Kayser’s French Pastry Workshop, it immediately rose to the top of my must-try list. I added it to a Vote for a Recipe post last fall, which it won (naturally). It’s been months since I first made Eric Kayser’s coffee and chocolate tart….. and I have been putting off posting about it, partially because I knew the recipe was going to be a beast to type up, and partially because I didn’t like the tart nearly as much as everyone else seemed to (I think I was just mad at it).
Eric Kayser is a huge name in French bread and pastry. Before celebrity chefs were a thing, he was famous for his artisan breads and pastries. I’ve visited his bakeries in both Paris and NYC, and I was thrilled when Maison Kayser’s French Pastry Workshop showed up as a new cookbook release. The subtitle of the book “a step-by-step guide”, promised me clear instruction by a talented pastry chef coupled with detailed photos of his process. Based on the subtitle, I expected a cookbook that would hold my hand a bit, showing me picture-by-picture how to make perfect French pastries. Yet that subtitle is very inaccurate…. Despite the claims in Eric’s foreword that this is a cookbook for the “young or old, expert or amateur”, making almost anything from this book actually requires major interpretation on the part of the baker. This is a cookbook for an experienced baker who is comfortable using recipes without much guidance/incomplete instructions.
In the case of this coffee and chocolate tart, the recipe header instructs you to make the dough one day ahead of time, but the instructions themselves say you can make the sweet crumbly pastry dough and let it chill at least an hour. Operating under the assumption that longer is better for resting dough, I let my dough chill overnight in the fridge before rolling it out and blind baking it. I found Kayser’s pastry dough annoying to work with – it kept sticking to my work surface, my rolling pin, and the tart pan. I got it into the pan and managed to press it in, but it didn’t look pretty, my edges were rough, and ultimately I didn’t do a good enough press job to prevent the sides from shrinking.
At this point in Kayser’s directions, there is zero clarity regarding pan size and baking time. The recipe header says to use either a 7-inch round pan, an 8-inch round or square pan, or 8 4-inch tartlet pans, however there is no discussion on how the printed baking time relates to pan size. I have an 8-inch fluted round tart pan with a removable bottom, so that’s what I used. After the blind bake was finished, I found the sides of my crust had shrunken considerably, so they barely reached up the sides from the bottom. When I poured the coffee filling in, this meant the filling came up over the top of the shortcrust in some areas (which shouldn’t have happened). Meanwhile you are instructed to make the coffee custard, but without any real guidelines or clues about what to look for. “Heat the cream mixture, add the whisked eggs to the cream mixture, pour into the tart shell” is basically all the direction you’re given. What about bringing the cream to just below a simmer? Tempering the eggs so they don’t cook when added to the hot cream? I used my experience with custards to determine what to do here, bring the cream mixture just up to a simmer and then carefully tempering the eggs with some of it. Maybe that caution is unnecessary, but I couldn’t think of any harm in doing it my way (whereas I could imagine a lot of harm in the form of scrambled eggs and ruined custard if done without tempering).
Next you pour the coffee custard into the springform pan(s) and “bake for 30 minutes”. No indication of what to look for when it’s done, nor any accounting for the different pan sizes suggested by the header. While it bakes, the coffee custard layer bubbles up and looks kind of like a lava flow. It’s fun to watch.
I baked my 8-inch tart for about 26-27 minutes the first time (the recipe said to bake for 30 minutes), and my custard was a little overcooked. The smaller 4-inch tartlets would take much less time. Also, because I forgot to wrap the bottom of my springform pan in foil to protect against leaks, my tart pan leaked… I was pretty irritated with Kayser’s coffee and chocolate tart by this point.
Finally, you’re told to make the chocolate ganache, but given no instructions about how long (if at all) to wait between taking the tart out of the oven and adding the chocolate ganache to the top. I started making the ganache about 10 minutes after taking the tart out of the oven, because I didn’t want the ganache to harden while I waited for the tart to cool but I also didn’t want the ganache to melt from the tart’s heat.
You aren’t told anything about how to cover the tart while it chills for 3 hours, but if you try covering it with plastic wrap, you’ll mess up the surface of the tart because the ganache will stick to the plastic wrap (see my photos for an example of my plastic-wrap marred surface). These are all things that an “experienced” baker can think through on their own, but they are not the omissions I expected out of a “french pastry workshop” cookbook.
All my friends and co-workers absolutely loved the final result, but I think the recipes in Maison Kayser’s French Pastry Workshop could be a significant challenge for someone with limited experience baking. It’s not exactly at the top of my desert island cookbook list right now.
Has my anger at this coffee and chocolate tart dissuaded you from making it? Let me emphasize that I’ve (hopefully) fixed all the glaring omissions present in this recipe and it should work a lot more smoothly for you than it did when I made it the first time. Also, people raved about how much they loved the flavor (not too sweet crumbly pastry crust, good but subtle coffee flavor, married with the barely sweet dark chocolate) and it looks glamorous while being truly quite simple to make.
Instructions modified from original source: Maison Kayser’s French Pastry Workshop
Coffee and Chocolate Tart
Don't be put off by the lengthy directions. This tart is actually quite simple to execute and most of the time is inactive time. Start a day or two ahead and you'll have an impressive looking dessert with minimal kitchen labor. The prep time assumes that you leave the tart dough to rest for the minimal amount of time (about 2 hours), but ideally the tart dough should be made the day before baking for maximal flavor development. This recipe makes use of an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, although you could also make this in a 7-inch (18 cm) square tart ring, or 8 4-inch tartlets.
- 3/4 stick plus 1 teaspoon (3-1/8 oz; 90 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon plus 1-3/4 teaspoon (3/4 oz; 20 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon (1 1/4 oz; 35 grams) confectioner's sugar sifted
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (3/4 oz; 20 grams) almond flour sifted
- 2 pinches salt
- 1 large (1 3/4 oz; 50 grams) egg
- 1-1/2 cup minus 1 teaspoon (5-1/8 oz; 145 grams) all-purpose flour sifted
- 1 cup plus 2 3/4 teaspoons (250 mL) heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 3/4 teapsoon (1-3/4 oz; 50 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz; 13 grams) instant coffee or espresso powder
- 1/4 cup (1-3/4 oz; 50 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large (3-1/2 oz; 100 grams) eggs
- 2 large (1 1/3 oz/38 grams) egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tablespoon (1/2 oz; 15 grams) cornstarch
Dark Chocolate Ganache
- 5 1/2 ounces (160 grams) premium couverturn dark chocolate in disks or evenly chopped
- 3/4 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons (200 mL) heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (1-1/4 oz; 35 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons (1-1/4 oz; 35 grams) granulated sugar
- chocolate-covered coffee beans or chocolate pieces to decorate
Ideally the day before baking the tart, or minimally 3 hours before, make the dough. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer), add the butter, granulated sugar, confectioner's sugar, almond flour, and salt to the bowl. Beat on low speed, until just well-blended.
Add the egg and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Wrap the prepared dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour, but ideally overnight.
Once ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 325 F/160 C. Lightly butter or use non-stick spray to prepare a 8-inch (20 cm) diameter round tart pan with 1-inch high sides and a removable bottom. Wrap the base and sides of the tart pan with foil to protect against liquid leaking out.
Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll the dough out into a round disc that is 1/8-inch (3 mm) thick. Fold the rolled-out dough into fourths so that the center of the disc forms the point of a triangle. Place the point in the center of the tart pan, then unfold the dough to cover the tart pan. [Alternatively, you could roll the dough disc loosely around a rolling pin, then center it over the pan and unroll it to drape it over pan.]
Carefully, and without stretching the dough at all, adjust the dough so it fits into the pan. Press it gently against the sides (it should extend all the way to the top of the pan) and into the corners to help prevent shrinkage during baking. Trim any excess dough from the sides of the pan, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Cut out a 11 or 12-inch diameter circle of parchment paper, so that the parchment paper extends beyond the edges of the pan. Center the parchment paper over the top of the chilled dough in the pan and press it gently down. Pour ceramic weights (or uncooked beans) onto the parchment paper and spread them out evenly.
Blind bake the crust for 20 minutes, then remove the tart from the oven and carefully bring the edges of the parchment paper up towards the center to lift it and the pie weights out of the pan. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly.
Leave the oven on, increasing the temperature to 350 F/ 180 C.
Begin when the crust is out of the oven after the blind bake phase. In a heavy-weight medium-sized saucepan, gently stir together the cream, butter, instant coffee/espresso, and sugar, then heat over medium/medium-high heat until just beginning to simmer. Turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks together. Add the cornstarch, and whisk to combine.
Whisking constantly, slowly pour 1/3 of the heated cream mixture into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Once incorporated, slowly pour in 1/2 of the remaining heated cream mixture while continuing to whisk constantly, taking care that your whisk reaches all corners and sides. Pour the egg+cream mixture back into the saucepan and whisk until combined.
Pour the coffee sauce into the cooled blind baked crust. Gently rap the pan once on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. The coffee sauce-filled tart is done when the filling is puffy and set on the edges, but the center still trembles a little when the pan is gently shaken. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Place the chocolate disks or chopped chocolate into a large mixing bowl. In a heavy-weight saucepan, heat the cream, butter, and sugar together, stirring gently to combine. Once the cream mixture reaches a very gentle simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate. Let the cream+chocolate sit for 1-2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Pour the ganache over the cooling tart.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Decorate by scattering a few chocolate-covered coffee beans or nice-looking pieces of chocolate along one diagonal. Serve.