What’s better than a custard tart? A chocolate custard tart

For extra brownie points, grate more chocolate over the top once the tarts are cold

Chocolate custard tarts: All the delights of a custard tart but with a chocolate boost. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

Chocolate custard tarts: All the delights of a custard tart but with a chocolate boost. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

 

A custard tart is a versatile recipe to have in your back pocket and it lends itself to all kinds of tweaks and variations.

Many countries have a local version of a custard tart. The Portuguese flavour their pastéis de nata with cinnamon, and use a puff pastry case. The South African melktert is also topped with cinnamon but the custard itself is often flavoured with almonds, in the form of ground almonds or almond extract. The French flans pâtissier are filled with a rich pastry cream and often have added fruit.

The tarts usually sold as egg custard tarts with a nutmeg top tend to be less sweet and set with more egg rather than flour.

The joy of a good custard tart takes some beating. A crisp pastry shell, contrasting brilliantly with a quivering filling of velvety smooth custard. What could be better?

Well, for the chocolate fiend in your life, how about a chocolate custard tart? All the delights of a custard tart but with a chocolate boost. My chocolate custard tart recipe makes for a rich, indulgent, chocolaty treat. These individual tarts really don’t need any accompaniment, but they’ll sit very happily alongside raspberries or cherries in the summer. In the winter, they would combine beautifully with segmented blood oranges or clementines.

For extra brownie points, grate more chocolate over the top once the tarts are cold. You could even add some softly whipped cream. Then just sit back and await the compliments.

Variation
Add the seeds from a vanilla pod to the heated milk for a luxurious flavour. Alternatively add a dash of strong espresso coffee to enhance the flavour.

CHOCOLATE CUSTARD TARTS

Ingredients
Serves 4
For the pastry:

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200g plain flour
25g icing sugar
125g chilled butter, diced small
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked
1 tbsp cold water

For the chocolate custard:

125ml cream
50ml milk
50g dark chocolate, chopped
2 egg yolks
25g caster sugar

to serve, whipped cream

Method

1 Preheat oven to 170 degrees (fan). Grease 4 x 10cm tartlet tins.

2 To make the sweet pastry: if making pastry by hand, sieve the flour and icing sugar together into a bowl. With the tips of your fingers, rub in the diced butter until all the butter is worked in and it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Use a knife to work in the egg yolk and water then bring together to form a dough, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 minutes. (To make pastry in a food processor, simply add ingredients in the same order.) 

3 Roll out pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use to line four tartlet tins, trim away excess pastry. Cut squares of parchment paper to line and fill the pastry cases with baking beans. Bake blind in an oven pre-heated to 170 degrees for 15 minutes until the pastry is par-baked.  Remove from oven and remove paper and beans.

4 For the chocolate custard filling.  In a small heavy-based pan, heat the cream and milk until they just reach boiling point.

5 Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot cream and milk over the chocolate.  Leave to stand for one minute, then stir until smooth and combined.

6 In a separate bowl, use a hand whisk to whisk together the egg yolk and sugar. Next stir in the chocolate cream mixture until combined.

7 Pour the chocolate custard into the par-baked tartlet shells.

8 Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until just set.

9 Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Serve chilled with whipped cream or a small quenelle of vanilla ice cream.

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