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Verboten Chocolate Tart

Why Banning Desserts Doesn't Work

This is a story about a chocolate tart.  Tonic is a health and wellness magazine, and part of health and wellness is enjoyment of life.  This includes dessert from time to time.  In my view, there is a time and a place for decadent desserts; although they should be eaten mindfully and recognized as treats. 

Health and wellness also includes making memories, creating occasions to celebrate and cooking for people you love.  Many people view Valentine’s Day as an overblown holiday.  However, when I was growing up, my mother always made us a Valentine’s Day cake and gave us a small gift.  She continues this tradition with her grandchildren.  When I had children of my own, we started a new tradition and celebrated with them.  Valentine’s Day can be celebrated with your significant other, family or friends. 

Back to the chocolate tart.  In my family, I make desserts upon request for special occasions such as birthdays and holidays.  On your birthday you choose the dessert and I make it.  I discovered a Jamie Oliver recipe for baked chocolate tart, which I have been making for years, and which I tweaked along the way.  Everyone loves it.  Although rich, it’s not too sweet and made with simple and natural ingredients.  The filling is gluten-free and it could be paired with your own gluten-free pie crust if you wish or even baked without the crust.

I love to make desserts, although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.  It’s fun to bake and say what you will, dessert makes people happy.  Unfortunately, though, this dessert was requested so often that I became tired of making it.  This turned into a series of negotiations.  Although I tried, no substitute was deemed acceptable by the opposing parties (i.e. my husband and children).  So I banned it for one year (with the option of extending the ban).  There was a lot of complaining.  But I stuck to my decision and we tried some other desserts on birthdays and Valentine’s Day.  At the end of the year (which coincided with my son’s birthday), we went right back to the chocolate tart.  At least it was appreciated.

So my ban didn’t work.  All it did was make me look like a bad mother.  And it didn’t diminish the demand for the tart.  The point of all of this is to say – this tart is worth making.  It’s something special and people will love it. 


Adapted from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver

One 10-inch sweet tart shell, partially baked (see recipe below)
1 cup unsalted butter
200 grams bittersweet chocolate (maximum 70% cocoa)
8 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla paste
3 heaping tbsp sour cream (don’t use low-fat)

Preheat the oven to 300F.  Place the butter, chocolate, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally.  (Alternatively, melt in the microwave oven at low power, checking and stirring every two minutes).  Allow to cool.  In a separate large bowl beat the eggs and sugar together with a spoon (no need for a mixer) until light.  Add the maple syrup, vanilla and sour cream to the eggs and sugar and stir until incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate mixture.  Once you’ve mixed it well, pour it into the pastry shell.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until firm. 

Carefully remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes, during which time the skin will crack and the filling will shrink slightly.   Serve with fresh berries.


Adapted from Baking by Dorrie Greenspan

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ tsp salt
9 tbsp (1 stick plus 1 tbsp) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks

Put the flour, sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.  Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely incorporated (the size of small peas).  Stir the yolks in a small bowl to break them up, then add to the processor a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.  Once the egg is in, process in long pulses – about 10 seconds each – until the dough forms into clumps.   Don’t overmix – it should remain crumbly.

Turn the dough out into a tart pan with a removable bottom.  Lightly press the dough evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan.    Don’t press so hard that the dough loses its crumbly texture.  Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially bake the crust (required for the Baked Chocolate Tart):  Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust.  You can add weights or dried beans if you like.  Bake the crust for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil (and weights) and bake for another 10 minutes. 


Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, fitness enthusiast and healthy cook. It is a mystery why she wasn’t writing for Tonic earlier.