Just after I graduated from the Baking and Pastry Arts program at the Culinary Institute of America, I landed a job as an assistant pastry chef at a restaurant slash catering hall called The Crescent Beach Club out on Long Island, NY. All of the prep areas were in the basement (as they usually are), and the area was constant chaos from the epic deliveries, shouting cooks, and frantic banquet staff rushing around. Many restaurant kitchens are made up of all men, so I got to see the "boys club" alpha dog antics firsthand—the pranks, the smoking of cigars in the chef's office, and the cooks as they tried to sleep with the waitresses. But I can't complain, because as the only girl in the kitchen I got a hell of a lot of attention and I soaked it up faster than a dry genoise.
Just a few weeks into the job, as I was still adjusting to the insanity (yeah I went from Art History to this), the head pastry chef Patrick up and quit. Though still a fledgling, I was promptly put in charge of the pastry department. Though I didn't get a raise, I did get to overhaul the dessert menu—which of course had to include a ridiculously chocolaty chocolate option. My plated chocolate desserts were, without fail, a chocoholic's dream come true (made even better with all the Valrhona and El Rey chocolate I could get my hands on.)
This double chocolate tart is reminiscent of a plated dessert that I would have created way back then, when my chocolate palate steered towards no holds barred, pedal to the metal creations. Forget a plain pastry crust to hold the chocolate filling. My crust would be chocolate. And how about a simple vanilla ice cream to cut the richness of the chocolate tart? No way. It was gonna be chocolate all the way.
The prebaked cocoa cookie shell cradles an obscenely satiny chocolate-espresso filling. Scoop a luscious frozen chocolate ice cream ball on top of each perfect slice so that it can melt right into the slightly warm tart, pooling to create a puddle of chocolate milk. Every hedonistic bite of crunchy-creamy, warm-cold chocolate smacks of contrasting chocolate textures. The only thing missing from this equation is an old-school chocolate tuile on top (and me serving it to you in my old chef's whites.)
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, "ShopHouseCook".