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Very Small Anna: Chocolate Pretzel Tart

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[Photograph: Anna Markow]

I'm going to tell you something that you may find surprising, coming from a pastry chef. Are you ready?

I don't like chocolate desserts. I have trouble coming up with dishes that are rich enough to satisfy a diehard chocoholic because anything that would be considered a worthy offering to real chocolate fans would make me screw up my face and shake my head.

They're too heavy, too rich, and often too uncreative. Give me a fruit basket over a molten chocolate cake any day. But chocolate fans are among the most vocal, and when you don't have a slab of something brown and gooey on the menu, you're going to hear about it.

At my last restaurant, I actually had a pretty good idea for an interesting chocolate dessert. But it got put off, and then deemed a little too out there, and one salty snack was swapped for another. A few months later I was tasked with creating the ultimate chocolate pretzel tart.

Sure, there are recipes for this sort of thing already, many including an ingredient I am also not a fan of, and certainly never with chocolate: peanut butter. But I wasn't content with the half-hearted pretzel flavor in the existing crust recipes I found online. Flour dulled the signature salty-sweetness of pretzel. After a few tries, I hit on the answer: grind pretzels into flour and use that in a classic tart dough, omitting regular flour altogether. But that wasn't enough—I kept thinking about how to improve the dish. Eventually I found a better ganache filling formula and a salted caramel cream.

This tart went on to become my most popular dessert. Often shared among a table due to its overwhelming richness, it was just as commonly fought over. Fans of a little salty with their slab o' ganache have, I imagine, been inquiring as to its fate after my departure.

You can't buy it anymore. But you can make it yourself.

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Chocolate Pretzel Tart »

About the Author: Anna Markow is a pastry chef obsessed with doing things that no one else does and giving unusual ingredients their time to shine. You can follow her sometimes-pastry-related thoughts on Twitter @VerySmallAnna and see her adventures in creativity on her website, VerySmallAnna.

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