Hi everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the first issue of Feast! For the second recipe in our cookalong, I decided to make the ancho chilli and date chocolate tart (on page 151) to go with Sunday night dinner at my sister’s house. Her kids have been wasabi lovers (in a Japanese game show/grin-and-bear-the-pain kind of a way) since they were about three years old, so I figured a little heat in dessert wouldn’t be pushing the culinary friendship.
19 Jul 2011 - 11:31 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

For this tart, I headed to Herbie’s to pick up ancho chillies and Mexican chocolate – I used to live in LA and you can buy Mexican chocolate (in a glorious red-and-yellow octagonal box) at all the supermarkets there, but here it’s more of a speciality item. The staff at Herbie’s assumed I was making a molé and were intrigued when I told them it was for the chilli-and-date tart. Owner Ian Hemphill said that many people pair chocolate with common red chillies, but he felt that anchos – with their fruity, raisin-like flavours – were a much better match.

Preparation was pretty straightforward – the pastry came together easily and I found that putting a damp cloth on the bench when I was rolling the pastry stopped it from sliding all over the place. I sacrificed some wild rice for the blind baking – I’d recommend something a little cheaper, but it was all I had! My full-size blender wasn’t up for pureeing the softened chillies, so I ended up using my trusty mortar and pestle, which meant it wasn’t as fine a puree as it could have been, but that certainly didn’t affect the flavour. Speaking of flavour, as I combined the chillies and dates with the butterscotch, I had a vision that this was going to be like salsa with caramel sauce. Yikes. Happily, I was proved wrong; the chilli-date filling was so delicious, it was lucky there was any left to go into the tart!

The chocolate ganache was a thing of beauty, with a lovely, glossy finish, until I covered it with plastic wrap to transport it. Gah! Pulled the plastic wrap off and the chocolate ganache had distinctly ruffled appearance, that was thankfully hidden by candlelight when we served it. The verdict? Silence as everyone tucked in – no heat from the chillies, just a lovely richness of flavour that went well with the butterscotch and chocolate. The tart is very rich, so one piece was definitely enough, which means there’s plenty left over for dessert tonight. Brilliant!

Looking forward to hearing how you found this tart and we’ll be back with a new recipe from Feast in two weeks – see you then.

Editor, Feast