Everyone knows a chocoholic. While chocolate has never quite been proven to have addictive qualities, cravings for chocolate, which contains fat and sugar, are real enough for many people.
When I started thinking about the recipe for today's column, I did a check on which type of food usually drew the greatest response from readers.
First are the baking recipes - cakes, loaves and cookies being the most popular of all desserts. And by far the most popular is anything containing chocolate.
Chocolate is also the answer when I asked my friends about their favourite sweet treat.
People's relationship with chocolate goes back thousands of years. The cocoa tree that produces cocoa beans is indigenous to Central and South America.
Chocolate Coffee Tart
- Serves eight
200g plain or digestive biscuits
200g cooking chocolate (preferably 70 per cent cocoa solids)
2 tbs caster sugar
1 tbs strong brewed black coffee
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs, best at room temperature
1 Tbs cornflour, dissolved in 1 Tbs milk
1. Grease the bottom and sides of a 24cm loose-bottomed flan baking tin well.
2. Place the biscuits in a food processor and pulse into tiny crumbs. If you do not have a food processor, put the biscuits in a plastic bag and crumble them with a rolling pin. Melt the butter on low heat and mix in the biscuit crumbs.
3. Press the mixture well into the fluted edges and across the bottom of the flan tin. Place the biscuit base in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm while you prepare the filling.
3. Heat the oven to 325 deg C.
4. Place the cream and milk in a medium-sized pot over low heat until it slightly simmers at the edges, then remove from the heat. Break the chocolate into pieces and stir into the heated cream and milk until melted and smooth. Add the caster sugar, brewed coffee and salt, and whisk until well mixed.
5. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and add them along with the cornflour and milk mixture to the chocolate mixture. Stir well.
6. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the filling is just set.
7. Allow the tart to cool and serve plain or with a little ice cream or fruit on the side.
The ancient Mayans and Aztecs were known to have used cocoa beans for religious ceremonies and as a form of currency.
When making it into a beverage, they fermented, roasted and ground the beans into a paste and brewed them into a bitter drink.
When cocoa was discovered and developed by the Europeans, other ingredients such as sugar and milk were added and chocolate became a very sweet treat.
So I decided that my subject today would be something baked with chocolate - a chocolate coffee tart.
If, like me, you enjoy chocolate but do not want the cloying sweetness, this is a perfect treat. The high percentage of cocoa solids in the cooking chocolate, plus the addition of a little salt, means you get the rich chocolate taste minus the over-the-top sweetness.
Adding salt to a chocolate tart may seem a bit strange. However, I find it not only blunts a little of the sweetness, but somehow also enhances the taste of the chocolate. Adding strong black coffee also gives extra depth to the flavour.
The tart can be made using a pastry case - either buy short crust pastry or make it yourself.
But I like to make a biscuit base as it boosts the taste and texture. Most plain biscuits are fine for tart bases, but I suggest using digestive biscuits.
Whichever you choose, remember to keep the ratio of crumbled biscuits to melted butter at two to one.
If you are feeling indulgent, serve the tart with a dollop of cream or ice cream. If you are feeling a little more health-conscious, serve with some fruit on the side.
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