This Lemon, Ginger and Dark Chocolate Tart is one of those desserts that keeps you in suspense with every mouthful. It is an explosion of flavours and textures which compliment and contrast each other, whilst exciting each and every taste bud as they mingle and then separate. Be warned though…. It’s rich and there is lots of it. It is definitely not for those on a diet and a little goes a long way…
It is a tart that has been on my ‘to make’ list for ages, inspired by one of those rare gluten free restaurant desserts of a lemon pie that was garnished with a little dark chocolate and left me musing in the depths of my culinary brain. Lemon and dark chocolate has always been one of those pairings which, when I have had it, leaves me wondering why more desserts don’t celebrate it.
Then of course there is lemon and ginger or dark chocolate and ginger… more popular for sure, but still not ‘up there’ in dessert menus (gluten free or otherwise). So what would happen if I married all three?
This possibility jiggled through the invisible foodie cogs of my head for weeks until I found the sweet spot that said ‘this is the one to make’. I knew that the lemon filling needed to be unadulterated as a single element. It had to remain the star of the show, even though it was sharing space with ingredients that should jostle for recognition as worthy co-stars.
I settled on a biscuit base made using gluten free dark chocolate and ginger cookies… the ones that have notably chewy bites of stem ginger alongside extra crunchy biscuit, smothered in thick dark chocolate. I used the ones made by Prewetts, but Sainsbury and Tesco also do suitable alternatives.
My first attempt at the base was a bit of a disaster. A traditional mixture of crushed biscuit and melted butter, I decided to pre-bake, only to find it collapsing in on itself into brown mush. Doh! Of course it would be brown mush… the chocolate would melt with the heat! It still tasted great though and scooped into a bowl, made an irresistible grab a spoon and scoop treat every time I passed it in the kitchen.
Actually, it was a good thing this ‘mess’ happened… I had originally planned a baked egg-based lemon filling (although wasn’t sure whether I should pre-bake the base or not) and I would have been mortified if the pressed biscuit had disintegrated and mooshed with the rest in the oven.
Returning to the recipe-development table, I switched to using coconut oil instead of butter to bind the biscuit base… a process which had previously worked really well in my Blackberry-Coconut Chocolate Nobble Cheesecake and avoided further disaster, as well as adding extra crunch. I also diverted from a baked filling to a no-bake version, which made the whole thing simpler and more fail-safe.
The result is incredible. Light and dreamy, rich and decadent lemon cream, set against a rim of dark, dense chocolate ganache, encased with crisp chocolatey biscuit shot through with an extra earthy crunch from a sprinkling of chopped roasted hazelnuts. As the biscuit and creams dissolve and dissipate, the firm, warming stem ginger hits the palate… reigniting sensory interest with chewiness and a little heat.
To zing up the lemon just that little bit more, I sprinkled a fine coating of lemon sherbet crystals across the top and embellished with luxurious, tart, home-made candied lemon slices… I figure if a dessert is to be worth the calories (and to be fair, there are quite a lot in here), then it is worth doing exceptionally well.
I am sharing my Lemon, Ginger & Dark Chocolate Tart with :
Lemon, Ginger & Dark Chocolate Tart (makes 1 x 10 inch (25 cm) tart – Serves 12)
- Base : Prepare a 10 inch loose-bottomed non-stick baking tin, by base-lining with baking paper.
- Coarse-crush the biscuits by placing in a plastic food bag and bash with a rolling pin.
- Melt the coconut oil in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave or in a saucepan over a very gentle heat. Add the crushed biscuits and chopped nuts and stir until evenly coated with the oil.
- Pour the biscuit mix into the base of the tin and spread across the bottom, gently pushing up the sides of the tin with the back of a spoon until you have an even layer which forms a tart-case. Place in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to chill and set.
- Lemon Filling : In a large bowl, beat the double (heavy) cream until it holds its shape in peaks.
- Add the condensed milk, lemon zest and lemon juice and a small drop of lemon food colour (if using) and beat until thick.
- Pour into the chilled tart case and place in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours to firm up.
- Once ready, carefully remove the tart from the baking tin and place on a serving dish. If the sides have stuck, gently apply pressure to the outside of the tin by squeezing a little and the stuck bits should release. Remove the baking paper from the base before placing on the plate.
- Ganache : When the filling has been chilled, make the ganache – Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized bowl and in a small saucepan, gently heat the cream until it just reaches simmer-point.
- Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 10 seconds, before gently stirring to melt the chocolate and combine. You should end up with a smooth ganache.
- Allow to cool completely at room temperature, stirring frequently as it cools and thickens.
- Once the ganache has reached piping consistency, grab a piping bag and with your chosen tip, pipe around the edge.
- Candied Lemon : Place the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Now bring to a boil and add the sliced lemon. Coat in the sugar liquid and continue to boil, turning frequently, cooking for about 10 minutes (until the lemons become more translucent).
- Transfer the lemon pieces to non-stick baking paper to cool completely (separated) before using them to decorate the tart.
- Sprinkle the tart with lemon sherbet and grated chocolate (optional).
- Store in the fridge until ready to serve.