Sunday, April 25, 2010

Warm Brownie Tart with Chai Gelato

I consider myself a moderately serious tea drinker. On a scale of one to ten, one being a Walmart-brand tea bag dunker and ten being a Japanese tea ritual enthusiast, I’m probably a solid five. I say this because I am deliberate (but not obsessive) about making tea. I brew it using good quality loose tea, pre-warm the tea pot, and allow it to brew for 3-4 minutes. My mother is British, so I was ingrained with the importance of tea from an early age. I even have a collection of silver 
teapots, though I am not an active collector. I’m afraid if I continue down this slippery slope, I’ll end up on one of those reality shows that feature hoarders who live in crammed apartments that have mazes of narrow walkways carved out amid piles of clutter and junk. I have about 20 or so silver pots, and my husband is adamant that this number doesn’t grow (although he has his own issues with books on military history, which number in the hundreds). The point of all this is that I do love tea, and I love to incorporate it into my desserts. Making a Chai Gelato was a natural choice, as I love the milky, spiced flavor of a strong chai. I use Upton Tea’s Chai Spice to make it— Upton only sells loose tea, no tea bags. Loose tea is generally higher quality tea composed of whole leaves, as opposed to the lower quality broken-up leaves and dust used in most tea bags. Upton’s 
has an outstanding collection of teas, and excellent service—I highly recommend them. You can buy their teas either in a tin or a packet. I buy the tins for each variety, then refill them with the silver packets of tea. This gelato pairs perfectly with a warm chocolate tart with a brownie-like filling. The gelato is a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of the tart. Make sure you don’t over-bake the filling—the center should be quivery, and the edges just set. The filling will firm up as it cools. Use a high-quality bittersweet chocolate for the tart. I used a 65 percent Guittard chocolate, one of my favorites for baking. By the way, in an emergency, you can still make the gelato using chai tea bags. I won’t tell anyone.

Warm Brownie Tart with Chai Gelato
Makes 8 servings

Chai Gelato (makes about 1 quart):
3¼ cups whole milk
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup loose Chai tea (or 2 Chai tea bags, if you must)
1 cup heavy cream
10 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Tart Dough:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

Chocolate Filling:
5 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (60 g) all-purpose flour

Make the gelato:
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the tea. Cover the pot and let steep for 20 minutes.
2. Strain the tea out (or remove the tea bags) and measure the amount of milk. You should have 3 cups—add more milk if you need to. Return the flavored milk to the pot. Stir in 1 cup sugar and the cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining ¼ cup sugar and salt. Gradually whisk in about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture until smooth.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard reaches 175°F on an instant-read thermometer. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and chill over an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until cold. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving.

Make the dough:
5. In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
6. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula. Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing just until blended.
7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Roll out dough and bake the crust:
8. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the chilled dough out and press it into eight 4-inch tart pans or rings, gathering up and rerolling scraps as necessary. Roll the pin over the top of the pans to trim off the excess dough. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork at 1/2-inch intervals. Refrigerate the dough in the pans for 30 minutes (or freeze it for 10 minutes) to firm it up.
9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Right before baking, line the pans with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang, and cover each with pie weights or dried beans. Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully lift the foil (along with the weights) out of the tart pan and bake the crust for about 5 minutes longer, or until it is no longer shiny and is dry to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack while you make the filling. Leave the oven on.

Make the filling:
10. Melt the chocolate with the butter over barely simmering water.
11. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, then the flour. Scrape the filling into the tart shells, place them on a baking sheet, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the center is slightly jiggly and the edges are set.

12. Top each warm tart with a quenelle of gelato and serve immediately. 

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