Slideshow: Behind the Scenes: A Study in Chocolate with Maison Kayser

Mise en Place
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.

Chocolate Crust
Chocolate Crust

The base layer, the chocolate crust, begins with confectioner's sugar and butter.

Chocolate Crust
Chocolate Crust

The butter and sugar are creamed together.

Chocolate Crust
Chocolate Crust

All-purpose flour and almond flour are added, along with a rich cocoa powder that will give the crust its signature color and flavor.

Chocolate Crust
Chocolate Crust

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.

Chocolate Crust
Chocolate Crust

After the rest period, the dough is rolled out into a thin sheet, and cut into circles.

Chocolate Crust
Chocolate Crust

Ready crusts!

Chocolate Crust
Chocolate Crust

The ring forms are sent into a convection oven for their bake.

Chocolate Crust
Chocolate Crust

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.

Chocolate Creme
Chocolate Creme

The mixture is whisked over low heat until everything is combined and it increases in volume.

Chocolate Creme
Chocolate Creme

Two different types of chocolate will be added to the custard mixture: a 60% cacao dark chocolate and a 38% cacao milk chocolate.

Chocolate Creme
Chocolate Creme

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.

Chocolate Creme
Chocolate Creme

The final creme is glossy and pudding-like; "You know it's good when it looks like Nutella," says Chef Nicolas.

Chocolate Creme
Chocolate Creme

The creme is placed into a pastry bag and piped into the chocolate crusts.

Chocolate Glaze
Chocolate Glaze

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.

Chocolate Glaze
Chocolate Glaze

Once the mix is homogenous, cocoa powder is added, then whisked thoroughly.

Chocolate Glaze
Chocolate Glaze

The finished chocolate glaze is smooth and silky with a glossy sheen. It falls in ribbons from the spatula.

Chocolate Glaze
Chocolate Glaze

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.

Chocolate Truffle
Chocolate Truffle

"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."

Chocolate Truffle
Chocolate Truffle

The finished ganache is let cooled before rolling into balls, then being coated in a shell of 70% chocolate.

Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Truffles

Finished truffles sit in plastic containers, awaiting their fate.

Pastry Chef Nicolas
Pastry Chef Nicolas

Pastry Chef Nicolas puts the finishing touches on the chocolate tarts.

Chocolate Circles
Chocolate Circles

Dark chocolate that has been tempered and spread thin over a baking sheet is cut into circles that will lay atop the tarts.

Chocolate Tarts
Chocolate Tarts

The signature "KE" insignia marks these tarts.

Tart Remains
Tart Remains

Although rich, these tarts are a treat that goes down a little too easily...

In the Window
In the Window

The chocolate tarts sit at the display window, prominently featured amongst their other pastries.