Salted Double Chocolate Tart with Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

It seems as though our dessert idea for this party is rightly aligned with the culinary zeitgeist.  Months back when John and I were planning the menu we decided that we wanted to make a dessert that involved salt and pepper.  And what goes better with a little salt and spice than chocolate!  We kept going back and forth about what type of chocolate cake to make.  A flourless chocolate cake could dry out, a chocolate lava cake is too hard to make for 25 people, a layer cake will be too labor intensive to make with all of the other food we're cooking.  All of our ideas seemed to fall short in one way or another.  But then a few weeks ago I was thumbing through the September issue of Bon Appetit, and found a spread featuring chefs who use salt and pepper in desserts at their restaurants.  I was immediately drawn to a chocolate tart recipe by Lauren Fortang, the pastry chef at Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon.  

Chocolate Shavings

If you are not a chocolate lover, STOP READING HERE.  This recipe is beyond decadent.  I almost dare to call it sexy.  There, I said it.  S-E-X-Y!  I might even go so far as to say that it's bringing sexy back.  (insert Justin Timberlake dance party here)  A chocolate tart so velvety and smooth, it melts in your mouth like butter.  Like buttah!  We made a few small adjustments to Fortang's Double Chocolate Tart with Black Pepper Ice Cream recipe that we felt would really enhance and cut the richness of the chocolate all at the same time.

First, we decided that pink peppercorn ice cream would be a bit more subtle in flavor and would appeal to our crowd of 25 a little more than the black pepper version.  Pink peppercorns have a subtle sweetness to them and are much less spicy than their black counterparts.  We also decided to mix the milk chocolate with dark chocolate to cut down on the sweetness, and switched out the candied hazelnuts for pistachios.  I  love hazelnuts and chocolate together, but we felt that a nut with a little less oompf would better complement the ice cream without overpowering it.   We also decided to add a little orange zest to the candied pistachios to add some brightness to this heavy dessert.  Our finishing touch to this adaptation was a sprinkling of espresso sea salt to the top of the tart.  There were so many different nuances of flavor in this dessert and they all comingled in perfect harmony.  Savory, sweet, bitter, and salty.  A sexy party in your mouth.  That may have come out wrong. 

Double Chocolate Tart with Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

Salted Double Chocolate Tart with Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

Ingredients:

Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup pink peppercorns, crushed

7 large egg yolks

Candied Pistachios

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg white

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup unsalted pistachios

zest of 1 orange

Double Chocolate Tart

Non-stick vegetable cooking spray

6 1/2 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (we recommend Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers) 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

7 1/2 ounces milk chocolate

7 1/2 ounces dark chocolate with at least 72% cocoa

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

pinch of espresso sea salt (regular sea salt or fleur de sel can be substituted)

Yields 8-10 servings

Special Equipment needed:

9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom

Ice cream maker

Ice Cream:

In a large saucepan, bring milk, cream, sugar, and pink peppercorns to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 1 hr.  After the milk and peppercorns have steeped, reheat liquid to a simmer.  In a large mixing bowl whisk egg yolks and slowly add in milk mixture a little at a time, continuously whisking, until everything is combined.  Return liquid to saucepan and stir on medium heat until the liquid thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Next, strain the custard into a large bowl.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.  Churn the custard in an electric ice cream maker per factory instructions.   Transfer ice cream to a container and freeze. 

Candied Pistachios

Candied Pistachios:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk sugar, egg white, salt and orange zest in a medium sized bowl until small bubbles form.  Stir in pistachios.  Next, spread out nut mixture onto cookie sheet in an even layer.  Put in oven and bake for 50 minutes, stirring nuts every 10 minutes until the sugar has caramelized and turned golden brown.  

Double Chocolate Tart:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a food processor, finely grind the chocolate cookie wafers.  Slowly drizzle in melted butter and pulse until mixture is combined.  Spray tart pan with cooking spray, and then press cookie mixture onto bottom of the pan in an even layer, carefully working the crust up the sides.  Bake for 15 minutes until the crust has set.  Let crust cool completely while you make the ganache.  Chop up chocolate into small pieces or shavings and place into a mixing bowl.  Heat up cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour cream over the chocolate and stir until completely melted.  Pour ganache over the cooled crust.  Let chocolate cool slightly and then sprinkle a few pinches of the espresso salt on top.  Carefully transfer tart to the freezer and chill for 2 hours or until firm.

To serve, let tart sit for about 15 minutes to slightly soften and then cut into small wedges.  Garnish with candied pistachios and pink peppercorn ice cream.