Why I love it: This tart has all the great features that s’mores have and none of the annoying ones, plus it’s subtly flavored with pumpkin spice and crystallized ginger.
You can think of this as a fancy s’mores tart. Instead of gooey, uber–sweet marshmallow fluff it’s got a torched meringue whose flavor is enhanced by little pieces of crystallized ginger. The chocolate part is a creamy, bittersweet mousse instead of straight melted squares that get all over your fingers and the crust is a graham cracker crust, but not just any old graham cracker crust. Rather than crushing up the bland, store-bought crackers I used this delicious homemade graham cracker recipe and morphed it into a tart crust recipe. And it was surprisingly easy to do, too. I basically just left out the leavening agent (baking soda) and that was all that was needed.
Just like any graham cracker crust dough this one is too brittle to roll out and transfer into the tart pan, instead you need to press it in with your fingers. I flavored both the tart crust and the chocolate mousse with my favorite spice blend, pumpkin spice, but if you’re not into that (why not?) you can use cinnamon in the crust instead and leave the spice out of the mousse entirely.
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour
- ¼ cup wheat germ
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ⅓ cup light-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (make sure you have the individual pieces more or less separated and not in one large clump to make it easier to fold them into the meringue)
- Whisk the flours, wheat germ, salt and pumpkin spice together in a bowl.
- Beat butter, sugar and honey for a few minutes until fluffy.
- Beat in the flour mix.
- Bring the dough together with your hands and flatten into a disc.
- Press the dough into a 9-inch greased tart pan, then place the pan in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake the tart crust until golden-brown (8–12 minutes).
- Let cool completely.
- Add chocolate and pumpkin spice to a bowl.
- Bring ¾ cup heavy cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate/spice mix and let sit for a minute.
- Stir to combine cream and chocolate into a smooth mix. (If you end up with chocolate clumps, gently heat the mix over a pot of simmering water). Let cool.
- Whip 1 cup heavy cream with the sugar to stiff peaks.
- Fold the cream into the chocolate mix.
- Pour the mousse into the cold crust, spread out evenly with an offset spatula, then chill in the fridge for 1½ hours.
- Beat the egg whites until they start to foam, then, with the mixer running, gradually add the granulated sugar until you get glossy peaks.
- Again with the mixer running, gradually add the powdered sugar.
- Fold in the crystallized ginger.
- Spread the topping onto the chocolate mousse tart and briefly burn with a torch.
Food Photography and Styling: What I really liked about this tart was the alternating layers of brown and white and to extend that color pattern to the rest of the photo I put the tart on a white cake stand and set it into a brown set. The slice I cut out of the tart was a mess so I couldn’t put that into the composition and instead I just put the dirty knife into the frame to complete the story. As usual I used my strobe and large softbox and lit the set from the left with a few flags to keep the background (which is my trusty wood tray) dark.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.