Café au… BABY

Coffee is one of those things that you just can’t live without; you know, oxygen, water, human interaction, sunlight… caffeine. Around our house, we drink Caranavi Oro from Global Beans, a local organic coffee company.

Founded by Paul E. Roth in 1995, Global Beans imports, roasts, and distributes the highest quality organic and cooperative-grown coffee. So what’s the difference between regular coffee and organic coffee? Organic coffee is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment, such as production systems that replenish and maintain soil fertility and reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Many of the coffee beans available today are grown in countries that don’t regulate use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the USDA Organic label to ensure you’re not buying beans that have been grown or processed with the use of potentially harmful chemicals.

But enough with the preaching, let’s talk food. This weekend, I had enough time on my hands to really up the ante for Sunday night’s dessert. I wanted to make something rich, decadent and – for a change of pace – coffee flavored. I racked my brain for ideas. I went through coffee ice cream (too time consuming), coffee flan (eh, not this time), coffee cake (doesn’t even have any coffee in it) – the list went on and on. I then remembered an old standard in my dessert repertoire, Chocolate Cream Tart. With a crunchy graham cracker crust, insanely rich chocolate filling and a dark chocolate ganache topping, my Chocolate Cream Tart is my go-to recipe when I’m craving something decadent and indulgent. But how do I incorporate coffee into this? The wheels began to turn…

I started by taking the base of a simple custard, heavy cream and sugar, heating it up and steeping it with whole coffee beans for just over an hour, to infuse the cream with a subtle coffee flavor. While the cream and coffee were getting to know each other, I made a chocolate crust out of Oreos, butter and a little sugar, and carefully patted it into a tart pan. Tart pans are great – they have decorative, fluted sides and their bottoms are removable. If you don’t have a tart pan, don’t fret – a Springform pan or even a pie pan will do the trick.

Once the cream was finished steeping, I added few tempered egg yolks, and brought it to just under a boil while whisking constantly. Once the custard thickened, I strained it with a fine mesh sieve, added some vanilla and coffee liqueur, and poured it into the cooled Oreo crust. The custard set for a few hours in the fridge before I topped it with a dark chocolate ganache. Ganache may sound fancy, but it’s just two simple ingredients: cream and chocolate, melted together. Back into the fridge the tart went, and several hours later we sat down to late afternoon coffee – coffee tart, that is.

The coffee flavor was subtle yet unmistakable, and the silkiness of the coffee cream was verging on hedonistic. Adding to that the decadence of the ganache and the gentle crunch of the Oreo crust, and you’ve got yourself a little slice of heaven. Fair warning: you may have to do a few extra sit ups or another lap around the park after a slice of this baby. But it’s worth it. Promise.

Coffee Cream Tart

2 1/2 c. Oreos, filling removed, crushed
1/2 stick melted butter
2 Tbs. sugar

3 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. whole coffee beans
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1 Tbs. corn starch, dissolved in 2 Tbs. brewed coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. coffee liqueur

1 c. heavy cream
8 oz. dark chocolate

Combine cream, sugar, coffee beans and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan until hot and steaming (but don’t boil). Remove from heat, cover the pan and let steep for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Remove filling from Oreos and discard. Combine Oreos and sugar in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Slowly add in melted butter while the food processor is running. Pat Oreo crumb mixture into bottom of 10” tart pan, Springform pan or pie pan, and carefully up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Reheat cream and coffee mixture over medium-low heat until hot and steaming again. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly add one cup of the cream and coffee mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Add the egg mixture and the corn starch into the cream and coffee mixture, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens but doesn’t boil.

Once thickened, pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve and discard the coffee beans. Add the vanilla and coffee liqueur, stirring to combine. Pour the custard into the crust and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Heat one cup of heavy cream and the dark chocolate together in a double boiler, whisking occasionally until combined. Cool to room temperature. Pour the ganache over the chilled coffee custard and place back in the refrigerator for at least two more hours. Enjoy!

* To help in keeping clean slices, heat your knife with hot water and pat dry between slicing.

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