Book of the week: Encyclopedia of Chocolate

Just in time for World Chocolate Day on 7 July, we discover chocolate heaven in this gorgeous new book

This beautiful new book from the legendary Valrhona culinary school – dubbed the Harvard of Chocolate Schools– is a must for chocolate lovers everywhere. Master the art of chocolate with over 100 step-by-step techniques, all explained in words and pictures. Try your hand at over 100 recipes including favourites such as Black Forest cake and profiteroles plus some of the latest patisserie trends including chocolate fondue, truffles, lollipops and chocolate cherries. Each recipe is graded for degree of difficulty so you can gradually develop your skills with experience.

The authors, Frédéric Bau and Pierre Hermé are two of the world’s greatest authorities on chocolate.

The Encyclopedia of Chocolate, Essential Recipes and Techniques by Frédéric Bau and Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona is published by Flammarion, £24.95. Photography by Clay McLachlan

Extraordinarily Chocolate Tart

Serves 6–8
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Freezing time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration time: 2 hours 30 minutes


Almond shortcrust pastry
120 g butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon (2 g) salt
90 g confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons (15 g) ground blanched almonds
1 egg
Cake flour, divided: ⅔ cup (2 oz./60 g) plus 2 cups (6 oz./180 g)

Bittersweet chocolate ganache
350 g bittersweet chocolate, 70 percent cocoa
1 250 ml/250 g whipping cream
1 tablespoon (15 ml) acacia honey
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 g) butter, diced
A little melted chocolate to brush the tart shell

Prepare the almond shortcrust pastry. Soften the butter and combine it with the salt, confectioners’ sugar, ground almonds, egg, and ⅔ cup (2 oz./60 g) cake flour. As soon as the ingredients are mixed through, add the remaining flour, and mix quickly, until just combined.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of ⅛ in. (3 mm) between 2 sheets of acetate or parchment paper. Place it, completely flat, in the freezer for 30 minutes. When the dough has hardened, peel off the sheets and cut it out to the desired shape. Line your tart mold or pan with the dough and return it to the refrigerator for 30 minutes (so it retains it shape during baking), then preheat the oven to 300°F–325°F (150°C–160°C) and bake until it turns a nice golden color, about 15 minutes. Leave to cool for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Prepare the bittersweet chocolate ganache. Chop the chocolate and melt it slowly in a bain-marie or in the microwave oven (on “defrost” or at 500 W maximum, stirring from time to time).

Bring the cream to the boil with the honey. Gradually pour one-third of the boiling cream over the melted chocolate. Using a flexible spatula, mix in energetically, drawing small circles to create an elastic, shiny “kernel.”

Incorporate the second third of the cream-honey mixture, using the same procedure. Repeat with the last third.

When the temperature cools to 95°F–104°F (35°C–40°C), stir in the diced butter. Process for a few seconds using an immersion blender so that the mixture is smooth and perfectly emulsified.

At this stage, brush a fine layer of melted chocolate over the cooled tart shell to seal it. As soon as it has hardened, pour the ganache into the shell and chill for about 2 hours. Serve it at room temperature.

Be sure to eat this tart the day you make it if you want to enjoy the crisp pastry and creamy ganache at their best.

Leave a comment