Vail baking column: Chocolate and berries are classic combination |

Vail baking column: Chocolate and berries are classic combination

Special to the DailyFor this tart, be sure and use a really good chocolate and ripe, flavorful berries. These two ingredients provide the tart's taste and texture; they have to be at their best.

Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.

Summer has arrived … fish are jumpin’, the cotton is high and berries are at their glory. I like to present them simply, with carefully-selected accompaniments, so that they truly shine. This tart is a good example; it’s all about beautiful, luscious raspberries, set off by a rich chocolate background. The combination is a classic.

The tart is oh, so easy – like summertime living is supposed to be. Only the crust is baked; the filling, which holds the berries, is a combination of melted chocolate and cream (called ganache) that never sees the inside of an oven. And, if you want it even more effortless, substitute a chocolate crumb crust for the one described below. The only thing to keep in mind: Use a really good chocolate, one you’d eat out of hand, and ripe, flavorful berries. These two ingredients provide the tart’s taste and texture; they have to be at their best.

Raspberry and Chocolate Ganache Tart

Bake in a 9-inch tart pan

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with a removable bottom



1 1/4 cups of flour

1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup of sugar, preferably Baker’s superfine

1/4 teaspoon of salt

8 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (one stick)

1 large egg yolk

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of ice water


6 ounces of high quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (don’t exceed 62 percent cacao)

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream

3 half-pint containers of raspberries


2 tablespoons of seedless raspberry jam

2 tablespoons of water, Kirsch or Creme de Cassis

Make the crust: Put the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine well. Cut the butter into sixteen pieces, add them to the bowl, and pulse until the pieces are the size of small peas. Combine the egg yolk and the smaller amount of ice water and add them while the processor is running. Pulse just until the dough is moistened and in crumbly curds; don’t continue until it’s smooth. If it doesn’t get thoroughly moistened, add another half-tablespoon or so of ice water. Turn the dough out onto a piece of waxed paper and knead gently until combined. Pat it into a six-inch disc, wrap in the waxed paper, and refrigerate until firm, at least forty-five minutes and up to the next day. It can also be frozen at this point.

Prebake the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Grease the bottom (not the sides) of the tart pan. Let the dough warm until it is roll-able. Roll it into a circle about eleven inches across. Fit it into the tart shell, doubling the dough on the sides, and cutting the top even with the top of the pan. (Save any extra dough to patch the shell if cracks occur while baking.) Freeze it in the pan until it’s quite firm. Bake until the dough is dry and firm (check at 15 minutes). If it puffs up while baking, prick it a toothpick or fork to allow the air to escape and gently press the dough down. Remove to a rack and cool the baked tart shell. You can do this the day before filling and serving the tart. Store, covered airtight, at room temperature.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate into very fine pieces (I do this in the food processor) and place them in a heatproof bowl. Heat the half-cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan or in the microwave until it just starts to simmer. Immediately, pour it over the chocolate, covering it entirely. Let the mixture rest for about two minutes, until most of the chocolate is melted. Gently whisk (don’t do this vigorously; you don’t want to create air bubbles) until completely smooth and combined. Pour it into the cooled tart shell and level the top. When the ganache has thickened slightly, (so the berries stick to it but don’t sink into it), arrange the raspberries, pointed side up, over the top, starting at the outside edge of the tart.

Glaze the berries: Warm the raspberry jam in a microwave or a small saucepan over low heat until just liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in the water, Kirsch or Creme de Cassis (whichever you’re using). Brush the glaze over the berries. Store the tart in the refrigerator for up to six hours. Remove from the ‘frig and let warm at room temperature for about twenty minutes before carefully removing the pan sides and serving.

The crust is a variation of a recipe in “Cooking with Julia.” The filling is a variation of a Bon Appetit recipe. Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at

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