I’m certainly not a dessert-after-every-meal person. In fact, I tend to avoid sugary treats most of the time. But there’s something to be said for special occasions—which, in my opinion, are one of the few times I feel it’s practically imperative to serve a little something in conclusion of a special meal. It could be as simple as an arrangement of fruit or as elaborate as a multilayered cake, but the intention here is chiefly the commemoration itself.
While there’s nothing wrong with a fruit bowl, let’s be honest—that wouldn’t make a very beguiling post, would it? Instead, we’re going to delve into something much more celebration worthy. Something in the realm of deep, dark, rich chocolatey goodness.
’Tis the season to savor the seriously scrumptious!
Whenever I’m faced with an irresistible array of sweet possibilities, chances are I’ll go for the richest, most chocolatey thing in the collection. It almost always feels like the most satisfying choice, especially given that I don’t need much of it to fulfill my dessert hankering.
This luxuriant, indulgent tart, rich with intense chocolate flavor, would certainly fit the bill. It’s a truly exceptional dessert, reserved for the most special of occasions. And with its nod to bright, refreshing seasonal citrus fruit, I’d be hard-pressed to find a more fitting time to serve it than the holidays.
Seriously. Elegant, extravagant, exceptionally easy—and with a deceptive simplicity makes it all the more enticing—what more could you ask for from a holiday dessert?!
Three layers of chocolate make this tart a chocolate-lover’s dream: a not-too-sweet cookie crust (which you may easily sub for a grain-free option should you desire), a dense truffle filling scented with fragrant orange zest, and a glossy, silken chocolate ganache to top it all off. The sprinkle of toasted pine nuts adds a distinctive crunch and creates an exceptional harmony with the chocolate and citrus.
Though not imperative for the overall experience, a tart pan with a removeable base is ideal for presentation. A spring-form pan would be your next option as the tart can still be removed intact. Even if you don’t have or want to invest in a special piece of equipment, don’t let it stop you. Simply prepare this tart in any shallow baking dish (a pie plate or 9-inch square pan would be best). Dish it up in thin slices or assemble individually for added ease.
Serve alongside a steaming cup of coffee or espresso—the rich flavors of the tart practically scream for it in my opinion. A dollop of whipped cream alongside would also be welcome and help tone down the richness for those less-serious chocoholics.
Chocolate-Orange Truffle Tart with Toasted Pine Nuts
Prep time: 45 minutes (less if you use prepared cookie crumbs)
Bake time: 30–40 minutes (less for prepared cookie crumbs)
Total time: 3 hours, includes homemade cookies and cooling time
Feel free to use quality store-bought chocolate wafer cookies rather than homemade (recipe below) if that better suits your lifestyle and time-constraints. The cookies can be made in advance and stored in a sealed container at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. The tart itself can also be made (through step 4) a day in advance, but it’s best glazed the same day you serve it. For more control of the sweetness level in the filling, use unsweetened chocolate rather than bittersweet and add honey, stevia, or other alternative sweetener to taste.
For the chocolate wafer cookies:
1¾ cups whole grain einkorn flour, or other flour of choice
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup coconut sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cookie crust:
1¼ cups chocolate cookie crumbs (recipe above)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
For the truffle filling:
1½ cups heavy cream
11 oz. bittersweet dark chocolate (or use unsweetened dark chocolate with alternative sweetener to taste)
1 egg yolk
1¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or other orange liqueur
For the glaze:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon coconut nectar (optional, but helps create shine)
1 tablespoon warm water
⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted (to garnish)
Orange zest (to garnish)
Special equipment: an 11-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, individual tart pans, 10-inch spring form pan, or fixed-base 9-inch baking dish of choice
- Prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 325°F. Place rack in center of oven and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, egg, and vanilla, and stir to combine. Using clean hands, gently knead dough until smooth. (In drier climates, add a tablespoon of lukewarm water to help bring dough together if necessary.) Divide into two balls, then flatten into disks. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper to ⅛-inch thick.
- Cut into 3-inch squares and transfer to prepared baking sheets about ½-inch apart. Repeat with second round of dough. Bake cookies one tray at a time in center of oven for 8–9 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Transfer to a rack and cool on sheet until firm. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely before making crumbs.
- Prepare crumbs and crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 15 cookies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ground to fine crumbs. Measure out 1¼ cups and combine with melted butter. Press crumbs evenly over base and up sides of tart pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on rack for 15 minutes while you make tart filling. (Now is a good time to toast the pine nuts for the glaze. Spread in a baking dish and toast in the 350°F oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool and set aside.)
- Prepare tart: Bring cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate in a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir until smooth. Add cream, eggs and egg yolk, vanilla, salt, orange zest, and liqueur. Whisk to combine, then pour into cooled crust. Bake until tart is set about 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly, about 20–25 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely in pan, at least 1 hour.
- Prepare glaze: Heat cream in a small pot until bubbling. Pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir to melt completely. Add coconut nectar and stir through, then add warm water. While glaze is still warm, pour over tart filling and spread to edges with a knife. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and orange zest. Let sit 1 hour before serving. For best results, bring to cool room temperature to serve.
Image from Briana Goodall.