Dark Chocolate Jam Tart with a Black Sesame Crust

There are two reasons why I’m so excited to talk about this recipe.

1. So I scoured the corners of the internet, modified a few recipes to incorporate black sesame into a beautiful, flaky pastry crust, and failed. The second time, after readjusting the proportions and carrying on headstrong, it worked. Although I had some leftover dough, I figured one can always make a few more tarts if you have molds on hand, or simply freeze for later usage.. or eat on its own. Whatever floats your boat these days. This crust took this tongue by surprise, and I’m loving it.

2. Combinations occasionally take on surprising and welcoming turns. This is one of them. Chocolate and jam. I’ve done it on toast, and there are those bars you find lying in the dusty corners of the gourmet aisles, once glinting, too pretty to touch. We are sometimes a reluctant, frugal people, I know. This tart requires neither heartache nor skill. It’s a proper seeded attempt at something less predictable than your average dark chocolate tart (albeit some sea salt variations here and there, which once again requires no effort, if you really think about_. It’s a cut in the norm. A most welcome tart. In its glorious entirety, think rich, dark and slightly bitter chocolate sitting atop the epitome of a flaky, milky sweet, butter-breathed crust.

The pictures above display my own toppings; a sudden, spontaneous headspin– macadamia butter and more jam. In this case, I used apricot, but strawberry or orange would also work fine in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever flavour you have on hand. Whipped cream and fresh fruit on top would also serve to complement the suppressed tart notes in the tart alongside the (almost) overwhelming richness of a thick chocolate ganache, and that crusty, sweet, buttery base.

Dark Chocolate Jam Tart with a Black Sesame Crust (makes 6-7 tartlets or one long 10/11-inch rectangular tart)

Ingredients for the crust:

215g (around 1 3/4 cups, but weigh for accuracy) all-purpose flour

113 (one stick or a half a cup) cold, unsalted butter

80g (slightly less than 2/3 cup) icing sugar

1 egg yolk

large pinch salt

1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream or buttermilk (I used the latter just because I had it)

20g sesame powder (weighed after sifting), or 3 tbsp ground sesame seeds

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the filling:

1 cup good quality dark overture chocolate, bar or chips (at least 60% cocoa)

240ml (1 cup) heavy cream

2 tbsp apricot (or any flavoured) jam

Cut the butter into half-inch cubes and put on a shallow plate or dish. Place the dish into the freezer to ensure the butter is at its coldest when you use it. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, heavy cream/buttermilk, salt and vanilla extract. In another larger bowl or into a food processor, sift together the flour, icing sugar and black sesame. Take the cubed butter from the freezer and plop the lot into the large bowl containing the dry mix. Using your hands (or using the processor settings), rub the butter into the flour mix. This will take a while, but try and work the butter into the flour fast because body heat causes the butter to melt much faster. Rub the butter in until it resembles a course and fine meal. Pour in the wet cream mix and lightly work into the dry mix until a dough just comes together. Shape this into a disc, wrap with cling film and then place into the fridge for an hour, or overnight if making a day ahead.

Grease your tartlet pans or rectangular pan. Take the dough out from the fridge, unwrap and place into the pan. Press the dough, which should still be pretty malleable and of a light greyish colour, into the bottom and sides of the pan. Take your time here, you want to make sure that there is a pretty thick and even layer of dough all around and up the sides. The thick padding ensures enough support during and after baking. Trim the top using a butter knife to get a clean edge. You may have some dough leftover like me, and that’s fine. Place the tart back into the fridge to stiffen a little more for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Cover the tart with aluminium foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 22-25 minutes (I stopped at the 24-minute mark), rotating the tart halfway.

Whilst the shell is baking, make the filling. Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and microwave on high for 30-40 seconds. Remove from the microwave, then take a large spoon and stir everything together. Taste and add more jam or chocolate if necessary. Set the bowl aside for later.

After the blind bake, remove weights and foil, then bake for another 5 minutes (I only needed to bake mine for an extra 4). Just watch that the tart doesn’t look too dark around the edges whilst baking. Keep an eye on it. After baking, remove from the oven and let cool completely. Fill the tart with the ganache, then allow to set in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting and serving. Store in the fridge, otherwise the ganache will leak everywhere. It keeps well there for a week, but I doubt it will last that long…

Black Sesame Cakelets with Cream Cheese Frosting

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A good friend once told me that if I were an ice cream flavour, it would be black sesame.

‘What’s that supposed to imply?’

I still don’t know. Nevertheless, I love attempts to associate people with things, endeavouring to understand or replicate nature, auras, psyches. The memory was jolted alive last week, when I was prancing around the supermarket aisles, sometimes stopping to peruse labels, flipping through half-hearted ideas in my head. I was ready to take on something tame for today’s post, working with ingredients I already had at home. But (there’s always a but). When I passed by the gourmet Japanese section, the urge to experiment with black sesame was so profound I felt like it would be a cardinal sin not to leave without a loot. It almost came as a shock because firstly, I’ve never done so before, and secondly, I’ve always been enamoured by its sweet, oil-rich, nutty flavour. What’s taken me so long?

Even if you decide, as part of a little intellectual exercise, that you are going to sit around and do nothing because you have concluded that you have no free will, you are eventually going to get up and make yourself a sandwich.“–Greene and Cohen, from a book I’m reading right now on the brain.

I love that. You see, sometimes, you just have to do something and stop wrestling internal needs or expectations. To sustain yourself and this life. Satisfying that urge was worth it.

So I’ll say it: I wasn’t expecting the results of this experiment to turn out so well. Somehow, the oven works its magic the first time. All worries were alleviated when my first batch of black sesame cakelets emerged (almost) perfectly round, just slightly risen and browned along the edges, from the hot-house. Working with the black sesame powder I found along that aisle was pure joy. The powder by itself is mildly sweet, carrying all the aromas and flavours of the seed. It is imperative that you sieve the powder first into the dry mix, to yield the finest and smoothest texture possible. If you can’t find the stuff in the grocery store, try your hand at black sesame seeds, and grind them up at home, in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. You will get a paste instead of a smoother powder, but I expect it will work just as well. Gosh, I’m excited for you! Soft, moist (I actually like this word for all the grief it gets, poor thing), slightly cakey with an incredibly tender crumb. The nuttiness and mild sweetness formed the perfect backdrop for the ever-familiar cream cheese frosting on top. The two together are sublime if sinful.

I topped these with oreo crumbs, sprinkles and chopped bits of dark chocolate. Go crazy here. It’s the perfect cross between a pikelet, an adorable mini pancake, and the top of a cupcake. Can you imagine? I hope you can. If making these means having to go to the grocery store to buy some black sesame powder (or seeds), then I guess you have no choice.

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Black Sesame Cakelets with Cream Cheese Frosting (makes around 8 3-inch wide cakelets)

Ingredients

For the cakelets:

105g plain flour

25g (around 2 1/2 tbsp) black sesame powder, or the same amount of black sesame seeds ground into a paste using a food processor or mortar and pestle

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

57g (4 tbsp) softened, unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

110g (half a cup) white sugar

1 egg

30ml (2 tbsp) whole milk mixed with 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar, left to rest for 5 minutes before using. Alternatively, use the same amount of buttermilk or yoghurt

For the frosting:

40g softened unsalted butter

75g cream cheese, at room temperature (take out and leave on the counter for a while before using, or microwave for half a minute if cold from the fridge)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

75g powdered sugar

Toppings:

crushed oreos/ sprinkles/ dark chocolate/ whatever you want!

Preheat the oven to 177C (350F) and line and grease 2 cookie sheets. In a medium bowl, sieve (yes, a sieve is necessary here!) the flour, baking powder, salt and black sesame powder.  In another medium bowl and with a whisk or handheld electrical whisk, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the vanilla extract, egg and milk mixture. Pour this wet mix into the dry mix and stir with a tablespoon or wooden spoon until just combined and the batter has a nice dropping consistency, and is not too wet or thick. With 2 tablespoons or an ice cream scoop, dollop the batter into little circles onto the cookie sheet, spaced at least an inch from each other. Pop into the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. Mine took 8 minutes exactly. Whilst they bake, make the frosting. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth, then add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Beat until all is nicely incorporated.

Once the cakelets are done, a toothpick inserted into the centre of one should come out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack, which will take around 10 minutes. Frost the tops with cream cheese frosting using a knife, then top with whatever toppings you desire. These cakelets surprised me and gave me feels. They will do the same to you.