Mise en Place
Four components make up Maison Kayser's chocolate tart, and each component gets its dedicated baking sheet filled with ingredients properly labeled and dated.
The base layer, the chocolate crust, begins with confectioner's sugar and butter.
The butter and sugar are creamed together.
All-purpose flour and almond flour are added, along with a rich cocoa powder that will give the crust its signature color and flavor.
The final dough is a smooth, cohesive ball that is sent to the refrigerator to rest for a minimum of four hours, although overnight is preferable.
After the rest period, the dough is rolled out into a thin sheet, and cut into circles.
The ring forms are sent into a convection oven for their bake.
The crust pulls itself from the ring form ever so slightly when it is finished baking. The final product has a rich, chocolatey flavor and a signature crunch imparted by the almond flour.
The mixture is whisked over low heat until everything is combined and it increases in volume.
Two different types of chocolate will be added to the custard mixture: a 60% cacao dark chocolate and a 38% cacao milk chocolate.
The milk chocolate will give the creme sweetness and smoothness; rather than having the creme be overwhelmingly chocolate-flavor, Chef Nicolas prefers it to be a more balanced chocolate flavor.
The final creme is glossy and pudding-like; "You know it's good when it looks like Nutella," says Chef Nicolas.
The creme is placed into a pastry bag and piped into the chocolate crusts.
The final layer of the tart is the chocolate glaze that finishes the pastry. The chef prepares cubes of jelly beforehand—made from gelatin and water, this extra step ensures the glaze is smooth and consistent.
Once the mix is homogenous, cocoa powder is added, then whisked thoroughly.
The finished chocolate glaze is smooth and silky with a glossy sheen. It falls in ribbons from the spatula.
The chef spreads the chocolate glaze in a thin layer over the chocolate creme. These he sets aside as he prepares the final step of the tart.
"With ganache, it is very important to work quickly," says Chef Nicolas. "You want to preserve the humidity of the chocolate, which is key to the texture of the ganache."
The finished ganache is let cooled before rolling into balls, then being coated in a shell of 70% chocolate.
Finished truffles sit in plastic containers, awaiting their fate.
Pastry Chef Nicolas
Pastry Chef Nicolas puts the finishing touches on the chocolate tarts.
Dark chocolate that has been tempered and spread thin over a baking sheet is cut into circles that will lay atop the tarts.
The signature "KE" insignia marks these tarts.
Although rich, these tarts are a treat that goes down a little too easily...
In the Window
The chocolate tarts sit at the display window, prominently featured amongst their other pastries.