When I was in my teens, I had the privilege of going to Europe. Being an avid reader, I had read many novels that took place in European cities like Paris, London, and Rome, but I think until that trip, the beauty of those European places was almost fictional in my mind. I hadn’t yet had the courage to dream of visiting until the opportunity presented itself. I traveled to England, Scotland, Ireland, and France. Paris and Edinburgh were two of my favorite cities in my European tour, and I liked them for very different, almost opposite reasons. Edinburgh was quirky, rustic, picturesque, and moody; a beautiful city marked by its ancient castles and charming hidden spots and breathtaking views of the Scottish landscape. That was even before J.K. Rowling had published her first Harry Potter book! But in retrospect, it really does make a perfect setting for that story. If I were to go now, I’d be sure to find a pub that serves butterbeer!
In contrast, Paris was, beyond doubt, a city filled with light. During my visit I experienced Paris true to everything people say it is: sophisticated, elegant, and outright incredible in what has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world. I got to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower on foot, say hi to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, stroll by the Champs-Élysées while humming its eponymous tune, visit the amazing gardens at the Palace of Versailles, explore a few Parisian neighborhoods, and take a taxi that drove under the Arc du Triomphe. I am currently dreaming of going back to visit the City of Light, even if my French is now so rusty I could hardly converse! If I were to go to Paris a second time, I would probably try and do all the things I didn’t get to do on my first visit, like a dreamy river cruise on the Seine; or having tea and macarons at Ladurée, the most famous Parisian patisserie where macarons were invented; walking along Rue Cremieux, a beautiful cobblestone street in a residential area dotted with pastel-colored houses; dining at Robert et Louise restaurant at Rue Vielle du Temple, where you can consume delicious woodfire-cooked steaks paired with delicious potatoes (one of the many hidden culinary gems of the city); riding the Sacre-Coeur carousel; spending time in the emerald-green Palais-Royal Gardens on a summer day; taking in the Sainte Chapelle with its 1113 jeweled glass windows; browsing the Musée d’Orsay, and stopping by Notre Dame, since I couldn’t go inside as it was under construction in the late 1990s. I would also love to go to one of the many farmer’s markets, including the Flower and Bird market on Sundays, filled with the tweets of hundreds of birds. Ah, Paris…so many things to see and taste! I can just picture myself having breakfast in the morning, sitting on a wrought-iron balcony, looking at all the Parisian rooftops and trees in bloom, and having a cup of smooth black coffee with a slice of chocolate ganache tart.
Actually, a slice of decadent ganache tart might be the closest I can get to Paris for now until I can plan a trip! I’m meeting two friends this weekend, one of whom recently visited Paris, so that I can get lots of ideas for a future trip and keep dreaming about Paris. Being a chocolate lover, it is not a surprise that my thoughts of Paris in the last week have led me to make this blackberry lavender ganache tart, which is heavenly, chocolatey, fruity, and creamy. The crust is made of sturdy pate sablée, which will hold up to the weight of the ganache and the fruit, and which can be made in advance. The tart shell is blind-baked because the filling doesn’t need to be baked, so it’s important that the tart shell is fully pre-cooked. The ganache was the trickiest part, because I used a new technique, incorporating agar agar into the chocolate and cream mixture so that the fruit would not destabilize the consistency. It doesn’t hurt that the white chocolate is colored by the rich purple of the blackberries, tinting the whole filling a beautiful lilac-violet color. It’s truly a decadent dessert, simple, elegant and perfect for a special occasion. It’s even romantic! A bite of this tart can also be a one-way ticket to Paris, minus the cost of the airfare, so if you want to bake this slice of Paris at home, I’ve included the recipe here below. Bon voyage and happy baking!
Blackberry Lavender Ganache Tart
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 12-15 minutes
Chill time: 2 hours
Servings: 2 9-inch tarts
For the Pate Sablée (tender tart dough):
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup +2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 hard-boiled egg yolk
- 2 egg yolks (raw)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups cake flour
- ¼ tsp salt
For the Filling:
- 1 cup fresh blackberries
- 2 tbsp water
- 300 g white chocolate
- 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1/8 tsp vanilla powder
- ¼ tsp dried lavender, culinary grade
- 2 ¼ tsp agar agar
For the Garnish:
- About 2/3 cup blackberries, blueberries, and grapes
For the Crust:
- Beat the butter and powdered sugar together with a whisk until smooth.
- Add the 2 raw egg yolks and vanilla extract into it, followed by the hard-boiled egg yolk. It is best if you add the hard-boiled egg yolk by pushing it through a sieve, so that you end up with a smooth mixture. Whisk well until blended.
- Add the cake flour and salt to the mixture, stirring well, and shape the dough into a ball.
- Flatten the dough into a disc. Place it on parchment paper and wrap it, placing it in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours or overnight.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape it into a disc with the rolling pin. Press the dough into a 9-inch non-stick tart pan with a removable bottom. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the tart crust to prevent it from puffing up.
- Place the tart pan in the refrigerator for 30 additional minutes and, while chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the tart in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is a light brown color. Do not overbrown the crust. Remove the tart from the oven and cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Set the tart aside until it is time to assemble the tart.
For the Filling:
- Put the fresh blackberries, dried lavender, and water into a small saucepan over medium low heat. Using the back of a spoon, mash the blackberries as they begin to soften; the juices will be released. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, until the fruit softens and only small chunks remain.
- Strain the blackberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and allow it to cool. Set aside to cool.
- In a small saucepan over a double boiler, place the white chocolate and heavy cream over low heat. Stir frequently, as the mixture becomes warm and melts.
- When the chocolate has melted and combined into the cream, add the vanilla powder and agar agar. Stir well to combine and remove from the heat.
- Add the blackberry mixture, return to the stovetop over low heat, and stir until thickened. The mixture will become pudding-like.
- Pour the filling into the prepared pate sablée crust. Place the tart in the fridge overnight to set.
- Garnish with fresh blackberries, with petals if desired, to serve. Enjoy, and store in the refrigerator. This tart can be made in advance and can be eaten within 4 days.
© 2022 Carol’s Baking Adventures