There’s only one time of year to make this strawberry chocolate tart. You’ll need fresh berries at their peak ripeness, which to my mind means only fruit grown locally. Berries this luscious don’t travel well.
I manage to make one of these tarts about once a year, usually at the very end of June. The weather must be warm enough to ripen the berries. They should be harvested early in the morning after at least two days of no rain (too much water makes berries mushy.) But once you have impeccably fresh and ripe berries, there is no better tart in the world.
A strawberry chocolate tart has three components: a pre-baked crust, a layer of chocolate ganache, and lots of fresh (uncooked) berries. It must be eaten the very day it’s made, for berries are delicate and the tart won’t keep well. Once you bring out a tart like this, you won’t have a problem with leftovers!
Strawberry Chocolate Tart
FOR THE CRUST
- 6 ounces flour plus a bit for rolling
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, very cold, cut in small pieces 1 stick
- generous pinch salt
- 1-2 Tbsp ice water
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
AND THE STRAWBERRIES
- 2 cups ripe strawberries 1 pint, or ½ quart
MAKE DOUGH AND CHILL
- We’ll make a simple 3-2-1 pastry (pâte brisée). Mix the flour and salt together. I use a food processor, so stick them in and pulse it once or twice. Add the chunks of cold butter, pulse again 7-10 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal, with pieces no larger than small peas. (If you prefer, work the butter into the flour/salt mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender.) Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until only the mixture begins to clump together.
- Remove from the food processor, knead once or twice on a floured board, and shape into a disk. Wrap it loosely, and refrigerate it while you prepare the chocolate and the berries. This may be done ahead of time, the dough will keep, wrapped and refrigerated, for a day or two.
ON BAKING DAY
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter a 5 or 6 inch tart pan and set aside.
- Make ganache: warm the cream, and melt the chocolate in it. If you do this on the stovetop, be very careful not to burn the mixture; if you do it in a microwave, zap in short bursts, just enough to melt the chocolate. Mix well, and when the chocolate is fully blended with the cream, remove from heat, add vanilla, and set aside.
- Prep berries: rinse the berries and hull them, removing all the green stem and leaves. Cut the berries in half, or if very large, in quarters. Leave one perfect berry whole, that will go into the center of the tart. Set the berries aside for now.
- Shape the crust: take the pastry dough out of the refrigerator and unwrap it. Dust your work surface lightly with flour, and place the pastry disk in the center. Dust the top surface of the pastry with a little flour as well. Use your rolling pin to press down on the pastry, making little grooves. Turn the pastry 90 degrees every so often to keep a round shape, and keep pressing until the disk is about twice its original diameter, when you can begin to roll.
- Roll out the pastry, moving the pin back and forth only. Turn the dough 90 degrees every so often, to maintain a round shape. When the dough is about 1½ inches larger than the tart pan, carefully lift the pastry and place it in the pan. Lift the edges, and carefully tamp the pastry into the pan, taking care not to make any holes in it.
- To make a baked tart shell with no bubbling, you’ll need to use pie weights. Take a piece of alumninum foil and press it into the raw crust. Weight the foil using pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Make sure the weights cover the entire bottom of the crust.
- Bake the weighted tart shell 15 minutes, then check to see if the crust is ready. Pull up one corner of the foil. If the foil sticks, the dough isn’t dry enough to remove it, so return it to the oven and check in 2-3 more minutes.
- When the crust is dry enough to remove the foil easily, carefully lift off the foil with the weights and return the crust to the oven until it is fully baked and golden brown, 7-10 minutes more. Once golden brown, pull the tart shell from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
ASSEMBLE THE TART
- If the chocolate ganache was made well ahead of time, it will have become solid. Warm it slightly so that it is pourable, and then scoop it into the cooled tart shell. Smooth it for even coverage.
- Place the berries into the tart, pressing them slightly into the softened chocolate ganache. I like to work from the outside inwards, and finish with one perfect berry smack in the center.
- Chill the tart, uncovered, at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours. Serve wqith a bit of whipped cream or creme fraiche, if you wish.