Before I tell you about my favorite chocolate tart, I want to talk about Ricardo. Who is that? I wish I knew.
Here are some Ricardo facts:
- He has a skin condition.
- He has foot pain.
- He is on prescription medication.
- He has a telephone number very similar to mine.
Somewhere, somehow, Ricardo switched a few digits of his cell phone number and started giving out mine instead. The result? Hardly a week goes by without a message for him. They pour in: from his dermatologist’s office, his podiatrist, his pharmacist. Friends, I am embarrassed to tell you that Ricardo gets more calls than I do.
An older friend told me recently that my generation doesn’t like to talk on the phone; if Ricardo is any evidence, she is right. I feel more comfortable communicating via text and email — or even Twitter, Facebook, or blog comments — than I do chatting on the phone. When my mobile does ring, I think: “Oh no, bad news!” And when it turns out to be a call for Ricardo, I feel simultaneous relief and irritation.
Anyway, the other day I was making this chocolate apricot tart from the brilliant Moro cookbook. I love this recipe. It combines a top layer of creamy, melty chocolate fondant with a secret, hidden tangy skin of apricot purée. The contrast of deep chocolate and bright fruit is refreshing, a tart burst against a rich, seductive backdrop. After years of making this tart for dinner parties, preparing it has become relaxing, the closest thing I have to meditation. So, there I was, happily listening to NPR while pressing pâte sucrée into my tart pan, simmering dried apricots in a bit of hot water, and melting chocolate over a minute flame on the stove (I live on the edge and forgo the double boiler). My mind was filled with plans for my upcoming trip to France, ideas for articles and blog posts. And then the phone rang. I won’t keep you in suspense. It was for Ricardo.
“It’s the dermatologist’s office,” said the voice on the other line.
“You know what?” The words burst from me. “You have the wrong number. I get calls for Ricardo all the time but this is not Ricardo’s number.”
“I’ll make a note of it,” said the voice.
That was almost two weeks ago. I haven’t had a single call for Ricardo since. I can’t help but wonder how things are going with his blemishes, his foot problem. Did he pick up his prescription at CVS? Ricardo? Are you okay? Are you reading this? Call me. You know the number.
Chocolate apricot tart
Adapted from Moro, The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark
Pâte sucrée pastry:
4 oz butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
Pinch of salt
7 oz dried apricots
4 tablespoons water
Juice of one lemon
5 oz butter
4 oz dark chocolate (70%)
2 grams sugar
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Butter the bottom and sides of a tart pan. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Add the flour and salt and stir to form a soft dough, adding an additional tablespoon of flour if the pastry seems too wet. Transfer the dough to the center of the buttered tart pan. Using your fingertips, press the pastry into the bottom and sides of the pan, forming a thin, even layer. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill for about 30 minutes. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 10-12 minutes until light brown. Remove and cool and a rack.
Reduce the oven to 350ºF. Make the filling. Roughly chop the dried apricots and place them in a saucepan with the water and lemon juice. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes, until soft. Purée in a blender (I use my immersion blender) into a smooth paste. Spread the mixture onto the base of the cooled tart shell and allow the paste to dry and form a slight skin.
In a double-boiler or saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and pale. Fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs. Pour the mixture over the tart shell and smooth with a spatula. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the filling jiggles slightly when you shake the tart pan. Cool and serve at room temperature.