This was the first ever historical recipe that I tried. It was a cold February in 2017. I was at home in my kitchen doing food experiments. It was raining outside. I remember the anticipation. I remember being very excited about trying out an old recipe.
Hannah Glasses’s book was the first one I tried.
My copy, once new, is now well-worn. It stands in the Town House’s book collection with many other books. I become completely obsessed with historical cookery after that.
This is the recipe I keep going back to. At Open Days, when new visitors stream into the Town House, it’s the one smell that I want to welcome them with. I make sure that I have my chocolate tarts in the oven as the front door swings open. It usually only takes a few minutes before I see new faces appearing in our basement kitchen and I know that Hannah Glasse has done her magic again.
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 568ml double cream
- 200 grams chocolate 70% cocoa solid
- pinch of salt
First make the pastry. Although the recipe is not specific at all about which sort of pastry a regular shortcrust tastes really good. I don’t add any extra sugar, indeed I add a bit of salt. The beauty of this particular chocolate tart is that it is not terribly sweet. If you like your tarts sweeter please feel free to add more sugar, but I would try this version first. You might find it, like I did, perfectly sweet enough.
Mix the salt, egg yolks, flour and milk in a bowl. Whisk thoroughly until all the lumps are removed. Set to one side.
Pour the double cream into a pan. Break up the chocolate into rough pieces and drop into the cream. Gently bring the pan to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly until the chocolate and cream are blended together. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Take your bowl containing the salt, egg yolks, flour and milk. Add a quarter of the warmed chocolate/cream/sugar mix to it and whisk together.
Once boiled stir for a minute then take off the heat. You should end up with a thick chocolate custard sauce.
Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature. I often do this step in advance. The mixture once cool can stay in the fridge until you are ready to bake your tarts. If you do make the filling in advance, do remember to remove the chocolate mixture from the fridge and bring up to room temperature again to make filling the pastry cases easier.
Then add this mixture to the saucepan and bring all the ingredients slowly to a boil.
Preheat your oven to 180 c, fill the pie cases with a good tablespoon full of the chocolatey mixture. It will rise slightly so don’t overfill the cases. Bake the tarts in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. The pie case should be light brown and the chocolate cracked beautifully on top. I like to be patient and leave this to cool down completely before eating.
Patience is not something our guests had during our recent Open Day. I left the chocolate tarts in the oven when I had to rush off to give a house tour. When I came back I discovered that they had been eaten straight from the oven by visitors who were drawn down to the basement by the smell of warm chocolate!