Its Thyme to mix it up!

I am a very bad blogger, I know, no posts for a while. I have my excuses......giant otter, run away circus elephant, fighting know how it is.

Anyway, onto baking!

I am always very aware that a lot of my bakes have chocolate in them........and for that I shall never apologise. NEVER! However, I know that sometimes it can make a lot of recipes seem samey.

Samey recipes are boring and I recently found myself in a bit of a baking slump. I was uninspired, bored, and I had lost my baking soul. So I did what any good baker would do......research! I have recently purchased a marvellous little book (you know how I love books), which I will blog about soon, that gave me an excellent idea.

I have gotten to the stage with my baking and cooking where I want to stop relying on recipes and make some up myself. A big part of that is knowing flavour combinations. I don't mean your butter and sweetcorn type combinations, I mean ones that you would never think to put together.

Enter an excellent idea.

My fancy new book mentioned chocolate and thyme in the same sentence. It took me a second before I went back and reread the sentence about 15 times before I had to admit it was a real suggestion. But then I thought about it (I mean really thought about it) and I decided it could very well work. The next task was deciding how to bake it. I did some more research and the majority of suggestions involved ice creams or creams, but I wanted to doing something a bit more substantial. I wanted quite a basic base to build I settled on a tart. A sweet pastry base with thyme, filled with a dark chocolate filling.

So here it is, my recipe for chocolate and thyme tart!:

You will need:

For the pastry

250g Plain Flour
100g Icing Sugar
150g Chilled Butter
2 Egg Yolks
1 Egg
Large heap of Thyme (this is to taste, I put about 2 tsps in mine)
Large Pinch of Sea Salt

For the filling

300ml Double Cream
300g Dark Chocolate
4 Egg Yolks

1. This recipe is quite nice because you can focus on each part without having to worry about the next bit until it's ready. So to start, the pastry! Sift together the flour, icing sugar and salt (watch out, the icing sugar will try and go everywhere but where you want it!).

2. Add your butter and rub it into the flour mix between your fingers and thumb. Do this until you have a breadcrumb texture.

3. Once you get breadcrumb texture set aside for a second whilst you whisk together your egg with the egg yolk. Add this into the flour mixture and its a good thyme to add in your thyme as well (did you see what I did there?!).

4. Mix it all together with cold hands until it is combined.

5. Lightly flour your dough, shape it into a flat circle then wrap it tightly in cling film, and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. At this point butter your tin.

6. Once it has had chance to chill lightly flour your worktop and roll it out. It should roll out to about 1cm thick. Now for the tricky bit. To get it off the worktop I would recommend using your rolling pin, sort of roll it back over itself so the rolling pin is carrying the weight of the pastry. Use the same method of putting the pastry in the tin as I use in my Caramel Tart post (here). Now cover with foil and place baking beads (or rice if you don't have beads) on top and blind bake at 180 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes (or until golden). It may feel a little squidgy (technical term) when you take it out of the oven but as it cools it will harden.

7. Now your pastry is cooling you can look at your filling. Which is nice and easy. Take your cream and put it in a pan, heat it through until it gets just before boiling point (I usually wait for the first big bubble to appear), remember stir the cream constantly, it will burn. And curdle. Yum.

8. Take the cream off the heat and add your chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted.

9. Let the mixture cool then add your egg yolks and stir.


10. Add the chocolate mix to the pastry case then refrigerate for 6 hours (or if you can't wait that long a few hours will do!!)

Now all you have to do is give it a go! I really do mean it when I say that Thyme and Chocolate work well together. The thyme brings out the earthier flavours of the chocolate and just give the whole thing a better taste. Don't worry about the thyme being a strong flavour because it really isn't. It really works. If you don't believe me give it a know you want to!


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