This week's selection was Chocolate and Polenta Tart, again from Gina DePalma's book Dolce Italiano. I was anxious to try this tart-Gina describes the texture as an irresistible combination of smooth, silky chocolate with the chewy bite of polenta.
CHOCOLATE AND POLENTA TART
Makes one 10" tart; 8 to 10 servings
Polenta Tart Crust(recipe following)
4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp instant or fine polenta
1 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center.
On a floured board, roll the tart dough into an 11" circle 1/8" thick. Transfer the dough to a 10" tart pan with fluted sides and a removable bottom by rolling the dough around the pin like a carpet and then unrolling it onto the pan. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, then trim it so it is flush with the top of the pan. Chill the tart shell while you make the filling.
Place the chocolate and butter in a large, heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, whisking occasionally to combine the chocolate and butter while they melt. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and set it aside.
Place the eggs, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat together on high speed until they are thick and tripled in volume, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the egg mixture to the bowl with the melted chocolate mixture and fold the two mixtures together with a rubber spatula until they are mostly combined. Sift the polenta and flour over the batter and continue folding until no streaks appear and the dry ingredients have been completely incorporated.
Pour the filling into the prepared shell and place it on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake the tart for 25 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and cracking and the crust is lightly golden brown. Allow the tart to cool on a rack for 20 minutes before carefully removing the sides of the tart pan.
Dust the top with confectioners' sugar and serve the tart warm. Wrapped in plastic, it will keep in the refridgerator for a few days.
POLENTA TART CRUST
Makes one 10" tart shell
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup instant or fine polenta
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4" cubes
1 large egg
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Place the flour, polenta, sugar, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine them. Add the cold, cubed butter to the bowl and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand and no large lumps of butter are visible.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, olive oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the food processor and pulse just until a ball of dough forms.
Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill the dough until it is firm enough to roll, at least 1 to 2 hours.
I've made a couple of Gina's tart crust recipes, and I like that they are easy to make using the food processor. But I found this one more difficult to work with. I chilled it for plenty of time, but had trouble rolling it out and placing it in the pan without it breaking. At least with a tart you can just press it back in place. The problem could have been that I made a mistake in the tart crust and used a corn meal that was not finely ground. Be sure to use instant polenta or regular fine cornmeal. I used a courser ground cornmeal, and the texture was way too hard in the tart crust.
This dough starts by combining the dry ingredients in the food processor, then adding cubed cold butter.
Then the mixture is pulsed until no lumps of butter are left. The wet ingredients are then whisked together, and added to the food processor.
This mixture is pulsed until a dough ball is formed.
The dough is then formed into a disk, wrapped in plastic, and chilled until firm enough to roll.
For the filling, the butter and chocolate are melted together in a double boiler.
The eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla are whipped together, and then folded into the chocolate mixture. The flour and polenta are sifted over the top, then also folded in. The filling is then poured into the shell and baked.
This tart tasted very good. Use really good chocolate-it makes a difference in this tart. The flavors of the corn and lemon zest in the crust come through. I will sure make this again, I will just make sure I either find some instant polenta or use regular cornmeal in the crust.