Travelling is hard to do. Money and time are my two worst enemies. I finally built up enough leave at work but then realised we also need money to travel. We saved and saved. Then my husband changed jobs so now he has to build up some leave. And I’m sure when that happens, I’ll have changed jobs too. Life is cruel sometimes. Our goal is to travel extensively before babies, so I guess our kin will have to wait for now, whilst I both reminisce and dream about foreign lands.
In the meantime, I have been strangely obsessing about Germany. A while ago I found my e-mails from my 2007 Europe trip, where I repeatedly stated that one of my favourite places was Germany (and Austria). I did not remember this, but since reading the e-mail I have been thinking about it more and more, and yes, I love Germany (and Austria). I want to move to Vienna but it might be too cold.
Anyway, coincidentally I picked up two novels about WW2 Germany in the last month. The most recent was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which was INCREDIBLE and is now on my list of favourite books. The book read prior was The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy, which kindled a new interest in me – European baking. (The current obsession with Germany doesn’t end with literature – for fun I started practicing German on a amazing app called DuoLingo. My accent is embarrassing).
Now I want to experiment with baking from all around the world. I made the following delectable tart slightly before my recent obsession, but as it has ganache I’ll say it’s French and that my European baking escapades have already begun. This ganache tart was eaten by French people. They seemed to approve and even nodded in agreement at my pronunciation of ganache. For me this is a win. I hope they weren’t just being nice.
I made this with dark chocolate, but I believe it would have been even more delectable with milk chocolate. Oh, or white! It depends on your preference, but either would turn out magnificent.
- 1 ⅔ cups plain (all-purpose) flour
- ⅓ cup icing sugar
- 125g (4.4oz) unsalted butter, softened, diced
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk of choice
- 30g (1oz) unsalted butter
- 300mL (10fl.oz.) thickened cream
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 200g (7oz) good quality dark or milk chocolate, broken up
- ¼ cup coffee liqueur (eg. Kahlúa or Tia Maria - I used the Costa Rican Café Rica)
- 250g (8.8oz) punnet strawberries, hulled and halved
- white chocolate, shaved into curls, to serve (optional)
- Place flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you don't have a food processor, use your hands to combine well. Add egg and milk and process or mix until combined. Use your hands to form a ball. Lightly knead until smooth. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 190°C/370°F (fan-forced: 170°C/340°F). Lightly grease a 24cm (9.5in) loose-bottomed tart tin.
- Remove chilled pastry onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until 3mm (1/8in) thick. Carefully place the pastry in the tart pan, pressing into the base and sides. Trim any excess* and prick the base a few times with a fork. Line the pastry with baking paper, and fill with rice until paper is weighed down. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove rice and bake for another 10 minutes. Leave to cool.
- Place the butter, cream, brown sugar and chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Add coffee liqueur and mix until combined.
- Pour the ganache mixture into the cooled pastry base and leave to cool to room temperature. Chill for 2-4 hours, or until firm. Decorate with strawberries and white chocolate (shave by pushing a knife forward along the back of the block). Make sure the strawberries are absolutely dry and the ganache is completely firm before placing them.