This is another tartlet recipe from Desserts By Pierre Herme and I couldn't agree more with Dorie Greenspan's warning - this is DANGEROUS. Enjoy this with a very conscious restrain.
The apricot, steeped in lemon juice,honey and a dash of pepper(so clever) is plump with a refreshing sweetness. When these are used to pack the tart, the cool fruitiness neutralises the richness of the chocolate ganache so well that you throw caution to the wind and start to believe that it is actually almost guilt free...Sigh.
This is actually not a difficult dessert to make. When one has access to quality ingredients, in this case, choosing a good dried apricot (plump and moist) and using chocolate from Valrhona, success is guaranteed. It really doesn't take alot of skill and talent to reproduce this recipe to impress guests at a private party - that is if you are not finicky about pipping the perfect chocolate swirl on the tart.
However, before we start to naively believe that this recipe is nothing more than just good quality ingredients, I would like to highlight the cleverness of the recipe.
When I first read through the preparation of the Apricots, I couldn't understand the significance of adding pepper to the boiling mixture of water, lemon juice and honey. However, when the solution started to boil and fill the whole kitchen with the sweet aroma of honey, it became obvious. The pepper, though present in a small pinch, spiced up the honey/lemon solution. Through its subtle presence, the coyness of honey became more exotic. For a while, I almost felt like I was transported to Turkey in my own kitchen.
I always tell people, Valrhona chocolate is idiot proof. It would be very difficult to get a bad tasting dessert with Valrhona chocolate. However, it takes a master like Pierre Herme to envision which level of bitterness would pair well with his clever use of passion fruit juice in the ganache. The master specified Valrhona Noir Gastronomie but I worked with Valrhona Tainori 64% which has a hint of acidic citrus and a slightly nutty aroma.
This then brings us to the next brilliant element in the recipe. The master chose to combine passion fruit with the dark chocolate. The ganache, with its generous amount of chocolate,heavy cream and butter is super super rich however, the clever combination of tart passion fruit juice counters the heaviness of the chocolate and makes it deceptively refreshing and tangy on the palate.
The brilliance of a master like Pierre Herme lies in their ability to envision how flavours can be paired to complement each other in a harmonious manner. I practically worship PH for pairing Rose with Raspberry and Rose with Lychee. It may seem quite obvious now how these flavours go together and I wish I had thought of it first.... and in my world, that is the difference between a scientist and a chemist.
I share with you the following recipe, adapted from Desserts by PH.
10 Dried Apricots
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp squeezed lemon juice
1 Teaspoon Manuka honey
Dash of Black Pepper
150g Dark Chocolate
70g Heavy Cream
70g Passion Fruit Juice
30g Unsalted Butter
Sweet Tart Dough, please refer to recipe in my Orange Tartlet Post.
1. Cut apricots into small pieces and place them in a a heavy saucepan with all the other ingredients for Apricots. Heat the mixture to boiling. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 10mins. Cool down mixture and steep the apricots in the syrup for 24 hours.
2. Place dark chocolate in a bowl. In a saucepan, boil heavy cream until just boiling. Remove from heat and add a little at a time to chocolate. Stir chocolate gently until fully melted.
3.Boil passion fruit juice until just boiling. Add Passion Fruit juice to (2).
4.Add softned butter to (3). Cool ganache in refrigerator until firm enough to pipe.
5. Pack pieces of steepd apricots into bottom of baked tart case. Using a star piping tip, pipe chocolate ganache over apricots in tart case. Garnish with a slice of steeped apricot.