Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chocolate Stout Tart with Pretzel Crust

When it comes to beer and cocktails and fancy drinks, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m neither adventurous nor very knowledgable. I have a very basic set of cocktails, beers, and after dinner drinks that I stick to and rotate through, and if you were to offer me a glass of wine, I’d have to politely decline, as that’s a beverage I haven’t quite gotten a taste for just yet. It’s a situation that is slightly embarrassing, but at the same time, it’s not a priority for me to fix.  I don’t drink all that often because to put it simply, I much prefer to indulge in a caloric overload via ice cream, cake, and brownies. That’s just the reality of the situation. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a beer with friends every now and then. I’ll just almost always choose a beer on the lighter side (because I like to play it safe), and I steer clear of anything dark.  I make a special exception for stout though. Definitely not for drinking, but for baking; give me a slice of rich Chocolate Stout Cake and I’m all over it.  The first time I made it, I wasn’t sure if the stout flavor would be too pronounced and overpower the chocolate (a horrible situation for anyone who prioritizes chocolate above all other things), but I was so surprised with how well the combination worked, and even more surprised at how much I loved it. 

Ever since that first time, I’ve made something chocolatey and stouty every St. Patrick’s Day. It’s one of the few St. Patrick’s Day traditions I can fully get behind (Irish soda bread is #2 on my list).  Two years ago, I made Guinness and Pretzel Truffles, which was another winning flavor combination. It was so good, that I’m repeating it this year in the form of a tart.  I made a Chocolate Stout Tart with a Pretzel Crust, and man, was it something. It was rich and decadent and chocolatey and salty and indescribably good. And easy, too. 

It starts off with some pretzels being ground in a food processor; you’ll want to process them until they’re pretty fine, almost like a flour.  The pretzel flour is then mixed with a bit of sugar and melted butter, and added to a 10-inch tart pan. Use a drinking glass or measuring cup to distribute the crumbs into an even crust, and then it’s baked off. In the meantime, reduce a whole bottle of chocolate stout on the stove, until there's about 1/4 cup left. Add the tablespoon of stout to a bowl or chopped chocolate (I used dark, but feel free to use another if you prefer), and then pour in some hot cream. This is whisked until a smooth, luscious ganache is formed, and is then poured into our pretzel crust. After firming up in the fridge, a mound of softly whipped cream is piled on top, followed by a generous sprinkle of crushed pretzels and shaved chocolate. Really, for a dessert that looks (and tastes) this decadent, it's ready not too much work at all. It's an easy St. Paddy's Day option for those of us looking to celebrate as non boozey a way as possible. While you definitely taste the stout, it complements all the other components of the tart so wonderfully. This tart is crunchy, rich, salty and sweet, and the addition of the bitter stout is the perfect way to cut through the richness of the ganache. Basically, this is a killer dessert.

Rich and malty, velvety and crunchy, this is a tart that anyone and everyone who loves chocolate will love.  The stout flavor is there, but it's not overwhelming.  Rather, it just enhances the chocolate flavor while adding a hint of bitterness (similar to whenever coffee is added to chocolate).  It's definitely not an everyday kind of tart, but when the occasion calls for something decadent and over the top, this is the tart to make.  It's St. Paddy's must!

Chocolate Stout Tart with Pretzel Crust

crust adapted from Oh Lady Cakes


For the Crust

2 cups pretzel flour (from about 7 oz pretzels, ground in food processor)

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

For the Ganache

1 11-oz bottle chocolate stout (or Guinness)

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
9 oz dark chocolate, chopped

For the Topping

1 1/2 cups whipped cream

crushed pretzels
chocolate shavings


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Combine the pretzel flour, melted butter, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring until large clumps form.  Dump the mixture into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and firmly press into the pan.  A drinking glass or a measuring cup will help form the crust in an even layer. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  Set the tart aside to cool completely. 

To prepare the filling, begin by reducing the chocolate stout.  Add the stout to a small saucepan and set over medium heat.  Simmer the stout until it reduces significantly, to about 1/4 cup.  Remove the stout from the heat and set aside.  In a separate saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer.  In the meantime, add the chopped chocolate and 1 tablespoon of the reduced stout to a large bowl, and set a sieve over the bowl.  Once the cream has begun to simmer, remove it from the heat and pour it through the sieve into the bowl. Whisk until the chocolate has melted and become smooth and glossy.  Pour the ganache over the cooled crust, and refrigerate the tart until the ganache has set, at least two hours. 

Finish off the tart by topping it with freshly whipped cream, crushed pretzels, and chocolate shavings.  Keep the tart in the fridge until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Makes 1 10-inch tart


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