Florals are something I have always had an affinity for, especially in food. As a child, my favourite sweets were often floral: parma violets, Turkish delight, Squirrel’s Cherry Lips, floral gums, etc. and it’s a flavour that I have never grown tired of.
I was thinking of these flavours when I decided to do some experimental baking a little while ago. I remembered the flavour of Fry’s Turkish Delight, and also the lavender shortbread I once tried on holiday in the Cotswolds. As I did, I began to wonder… what if I could make chocolate and lavender work together?
The first challenge was figuring out how to incorporate the two ingredients into a recipe. I thought about using a lavender biscuit, then I thought about lavender in pastry, but I decided I didn’t want the flowers to actually end up in the final bake. It was the flavour I wanted. I eventually decided that a ganache, made with a lavender-infused cream, was the best way to go.
The next challenge was getting the two to play nicely together. Dark chocolate has lots of complex notes in its own right and adding something as prominent as lavender into the mix could very easily have been a recipe for disaster. Too much and the flavour would be one of dish soap; too little and the chocolate would completely overpower it. I eventually got the right balance and it is reflected in the recipe below.
For this recipe, I decided to do individual tarlets rather than one large tart. The sight of a petite tarte au chocolat is something that really appeals to me.
You’ll also see that my pastry recipe is egg-free. Most people use egg yolk to bind the ingredients together but I find you get a much shorter, lighter pastry if you substitute egg yolk for water. Before I discovered this, I would occasionally end up with tough dough (not great). However, since changing to using water, I have never had an issue. I hope you like this little trick—give it a try!
Chocolate and Lavender Tartlets
Makes: 6 tartlets | Prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 120g plain flour
- 120g butter, chilled
- 80g caster sugar
- 1tbsp water
- 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 200g double cream
- Fresh lavender (5 heads and 2-3 stems)
- Preheat the oven to 160°c then grease your tartlet tins with a little butter.
- Weigh out your flour in a large mixing bowl. Then, break your chilled butter into your flour in small lumps (just break it off with your fingers… you can cube it with a knife, if you want extra washing up to do!)
- Rub the chilled butter into the flour until you have fine breadcrumbs.
- Next, add your water and use it to bring together your dough into a ball. You might find that the dough is a bit too short to start with but, if you knead it a little, it will come together.
- Wrap your dough in clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, roll out your dough to a 4mm thickness between two sheets of clingfilm (this prevents the need to use additional flour, which could affect the final texture of the dough.)
- Using a 12cm cutter, cut six discs from your rolled-out dough and place one in each tin. You should find that the discs come up a bit short but this is what you want. ‘Raise’ the dough up the sides of the tins by pushing it to fit so that the dough comes up just past the lip slightly—this ensures a thin, fluted crust and a dough that shouldn’t shrink back in the oven.
- Chill your prepared tart cases for a further 20 minutes before trimming any excess pastry from the lip of your tins.
- Prick the base of each tart case and place a square of clingfilm (approximately 20x20cm) on each case. Fill the lined tart cases with baking beans (or pennies!) and fold the edges of the clingfilm back into the centre so you create a little bag to weigh down the cases.
- Bake for 10 minutes before removing the baking beans (be careful, they get hot!). Place the tarts back in the over and bake for a further 2-5 minutes until the edges start to turn golden and the bases are fully cooked.
- Remove the tart cases from the tins whilst still warm and leave to cool on a wire rack
- Pour the double cream into a a heavy-bottomed pan and add the lavender flours and stems.
- Heat the cream on a medium heat and leave to infuse for approximately 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, break your chocolate into chunks in a large mixing bowl.
- Once the cream has infused, turn up the heat. As soon as the cream begins to boil, pour it over the chocolate and stir until a glossy ganache is formed.
- Decant the ganache into a heat-safe jug and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour the slightly-cooled ganache into your cool tart tins and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours until the ganache has set.
- Serve at room temperature, paired with a cup of Lady Gray tea.