I’m not entirely sure why this dish is called a “chocolate honey tart”, since honey flavors the crust but isn’t an integral part of the pie itself. It would be like calling an old-fashioned apple pie with lard in the crust an “apple-lard pie”. Mmmmmm, apple-lard.
I hear it’s very good.
Anyway. I’ve made this dessert probably three or four times already and it always pays off big for me, but nevertheless…I have issues. With how they pitch it, with how the recipe says to execute certain steps in the making. For starters, the thing that makes this dish stand out for me is neither the chocolate (which nearly always ranks high on my list of yes) or the honey (see above paragraph) but rather, the lavender. Yes, lavender. Yes, the stuff that’s in that soap your grandmother kept in her linen closet so it would stay “fresh”. Lavender, believe it or not, is quite lovely in food, so long as it’s used in moderation. I do admit it can readily taste like you’re eating soap if it’s overdone, but I also like spicy food, which can resemble eating hot coals if you have a big overdo-it. It’s all relative.
Some people say lavender tastes almost minty but for me, I like the way the pungent floral topnotes (think of the tastes that you sort of get up your nose) combine with its earthy, almost bitter quality, especially when you incorporate the leaves into your cooking. Lavender sprigs may even be substituted for rosemary in most recipes, as it’s the flowers that taste really…uh…flowery. I have admitted elsewhere that I adore floral flavors in my food. I love violet ice cream, have been known to macerate rose petals, and recently came across a recipe for chamomile whipped cream that I am aching to try. Lavender is not the easiest thing to get your hands on (Central Pennsylvanians, try the Natural Food Store in Lewisburg, or just order it online) but it can be found. If you’re in any way a gardener (which, as the proud owner of the blackest of all black thumbs, I assure you I am not, but the boyfriend has his moments), then plant some. It’s a perennial, so it will keep coming back as if by magic, and if you have a very warm even-though-global-warming-isn’t-real-she-said-facetiously winter, you can start harvesting in early May, though we mainly have leaves right now.
We did have some dried buds, so they went in the mix too, but the greens looked so much more photogenic. Anyway. Wash the lavender, pull as much as you need, set it on a paper towel and let it dry on the side while you make your crust.
Making the crust is easy-peasy. Put graham crackers, butter, and the titular honey in a food processor. Process. Until it looks like this:
And then press it into a pan. The recipe specifically calls for a tart pan with a removable bottom but I say meh. You could certainly use the tart pan or a springform pan if you have one, but if you have neither (or if you’re downright stubborn…from one who knows) a pie plate works just fine. Once the graham cracker crust is ready, press it into your baking vehicle of choice and put the crust in the oven (set at 350) for ten minutes or so, to set.
Right. You set your crust, it’s cooling. Now what?
Keep an eye on two things at the same time!
First, the recipe says to put the cream and lavender in a saucepan, boil it so the herbs steep, and then strain it into the chocolate. Does it surprise anyone that I have issues with this? First, it doesn’t specify which cream to use (other than “whipping cream”), so I will tell you now. Stop dithering around at the dairy section and get heavy whipping cream. Don’t worry about if you should get half-and-half, or some sort of “light” cream (an oxymoron if ever I heard one). Go for full-on heavy cream, and make the tart so rich you can only eat a little piece of it.
If you can–if you have cheesecloth handy, or a tea ball–then steep your herbs in something else so you don’t have to worry about straining them at the end. It’s probably not THAT big a deal, but it’s so simple to fish one little gris-gris bag full of lavender hoodoo out of your cream…
…instead of worrying about whether or not you’re going to splash hot cream everywhere. As I, perhaps, have been known to do.
I’m not a ticking time bomb. I’m a pending ER visit.
While your cream and lavender are steeping, put your chocolate into a double-boiler. I know the recipe says to just put it in a saucepan, but here’s the thing: chocolate is an unforgiving mistress. It can burn, it can scorch, it can seize, it can do all sorts of persnickety things, if you don’t treat it with love. So put it in that double-boiler and treat it to gentle heat. If you don’t have a double-boiler (like I don’t), then take a metal or glass mixing bowl and set it over a medium-sized pot with about an inch of water in the bottom. Voila! Double-boiler.
The recipe calls for twelve ounces of bittersweet chocolate chips. I’m down with the bittersweet (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao), I’m down with the chips. But here’s the thing…most bags of chocolate chips are only ten ounces. I know, I checked. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, or have one but don’t feel like getting a second bag of chips, weighing out two ounces for the tart and then finding yourself stuck while you try to figure out what to do with these other remaining eight ounces of extraneous chippery I tell you now–relax. Get one bag of chips, and one four-ounce bar of bittersweet baking chocolate. Break that bar in half. Put one half in with the chips. Eat the other half. No waste, you get a delicious treat, and you’ve got twelve perfectly measured ounces of chocolatey goodness waiting to be molded to your will.
Chocolate, in the boiler. Heat, nice and medium-ish. And let it melt.
And, at this point, you pour in your (strained, or lavender gris-gris free) cream and then…
Admittedly, it looks a little like Pensacola Beach after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but that’s only for a few minutes. Stir, have patience, keep the heat low and steady. Stir, patience. Stir, patience. It will be rewarded.
When you think you’ve reached the pinnacle of its smooth, creamy-chocolatey goodness, throw in some more cocoa powder and a little butter. Just to make yourselves wild with desire.
If you thought this was easy…or maybe not easy but eh, not-so-bad…then wait until you get a load of this next series of steps.
1. Pour it into the prepared crust.
2. Let it start to cool on the counter for a little while (twenty minutes, maybe?) and then put it in the fridge. It should set up for a minimum of 45 minutes, it’s totally set after two hours and it can stay there overnight. Whatever, it’s all good. And then
It’s really simple to make, it pays off every time, it doesn’t require terribly fancy equipment to make, and it’s like mainlining chocolate through a beautiful bouquet. I’m not sure if there could ever be anything wrong with any of these claims, particularly because they are all true. This won’t let you down. Enjoy!