Reclaiming what I already own
It is almost here! Christmas is finally around the corner! For me it is more about the season than a particular day. I sincerely loathe the fixation over superficial shopping and the need to have everything new. I appreciate taking out old but meaningful ornaments form far away boxes in my closet and rediscovering some 10 years embellished pumps that will definitely look much better than my faithful and beloved everyday flats for a special holiday party. So it is also an adventure to revisit desserts from your childhood, especially if there's one that wasn't your favorite, like in my case the traditional "tembleque".
This dessert has also made me revisit tales from the past. “tembleque” is a typical Puerto Rican dessert mostly served during the Christmas season. It’s basically a coconut pudding with a sprinkle of cinnamon and I really hated it. My grandmother used to make this festive Christmas’ Eve dinner with lots of family, friends and neighbors, decorations, music and good food. (My God! I really miss those parties.) Everyone will be singing and having a good time. When dessert time came up at dinner, I will feel so conscious about my feeling for “tembleque”, like a black sheep. Everyone will grab a little cup and dig in like their presents from Santa depended on it. I will look through the cabinets to see if I could find another alternative to my sweet craving, but nothing will pop up. They were sad dessert times!
Some Christmas have passed by and now I have learned that there is a lot of people who also couldn’t eat this dessert, and the main reason is the same as mine; it is good but it could use some texture and contrast of flavors. The name “tembleque” comes from the word “temblar”, which means to jiggle. This dessert will giggle if you shake it, so as you can imagine it’s texture is like a creamy gelatin.
For this Christmas I wanted to recreate some traditional desserts and decided it was time to come face to face with “tembleque” and let it now how I feel and (as a typical woman!) try to fix it. Turned out I didn’t have to change much, just amp up the flavor a bit and add some texture. Here enters the chocolate tart shell, an easy way to add texture to this soft pudding. The chocolate note goes wonderful with the coconut and cinnamon flavors. To serve you just sprinkle some ground cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa powder and done! I have to say now that I won’t be looking away anymore with this dessert.
This will be the last post for 2016. I wish you all a great Christmas season and a wonderful 2017, may it be filled with so much needed peace and love. See you soon friends…
1. If you are not ready to use the dough right away you may chill it in the fridge for up to two days or freeze it and thaw it in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight when ready to use.
2. You may cook the “tembleque” when the tart shell has almost cooled down completely because it cooks in just 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Ideally you should start with the dough two days in advance of when you wan to serve it, bake it the next day and fill it with the “tembleque” and chill it completely assembled overnight. This dessert holds perfectly for a couple of days, so you may even prepare it at least two days in advance. I break down the time on the recipe so you can organize properly.
Tembleque chocolate tart
8 to 9 inches shell
Prep time for making dough – 10 minutes + 6 hours (or overnight) for chilling
Prep time for baking the dough – 15 minutes
Baking and cool time - 45 minutes approximately
Active time making the “tembleque” filling – 10 minutes
Total time to chill – 6 to 8 hours
Equipment – 8 or 9 inches tart shell pan, rolling pin, food processor (recommended)
Chocolate tart shell
Yield two 8 inches shells
Unbleached flour – 1 ¾ cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder – ¼ cup
Fine sea salt – 1 Tsp
Raw sugar – ⅔ cup
Unsalted butter – 10 TBSP, cut in small pieces and chilled in the freezer for a few minutes
Eggs – 1
Egg yolk - 1
Vanilla paste or extract – 1 Tsp
Iced cold water – 2 to 3 TBSP
In the bowl of a food processor attached to the base, pulse the flour, the cocoa powder, salt and sugar 3 to 4 times to incorporate the ingredients. Add the butter and pulse just until the mixture becomes crumbly and you see pea size flour crumbs. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and pulse just enough so the flour is no longer wet and barely starts to clump together, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to a lightly flour dusted surface or large bowl and press slightly enough to make a ball. Divide it in half and then flatten each of them to form a disk. Wrap in plastic paper and chill for 1 hour. (See recipe notes.)
Take one of the disk dough out of the fridge and wait a few minutes until it softens a little. Dust a clean flat surface with flour and roll the dough out into a 10-inch circle approximately. Dust your rolling pin with a bit of flour, then, starting from your side, wrap the dough into your rolling pin and then unroll it over the tart pan. Gently press it into the pan and with a sharp knife cut the edges. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut a parchment paper circle of 7 ¾” approximately to place in the bottom of the shell. Take out the shell from the fridge, place on the parchment paper and cover with pie weighs, beans or a silicone blind bake mat. Blind bake the tart shell for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and take out the parchment paper with its content or the mat, then return to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the shell appears dry. Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely over a wire rack before removing from tart shell pan.
Water – ½ cup
Cinnamon sticks – 4 to 5
Coconut milk – 3 cups (2 cans), leaving apart ¾ cup of them
Raw or natural sugar – ¾ cup
Ground cinnamon – ¼ Tsp
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp
Arrowroot (preferably) or cornstarch, sifted – ½ cup
Ground cinnamon and cocoa powder to sprinkle on top for serving
In a small saucepan boil the water over medium heat with the cinnamon sticks until it reduces to ¼ of a cup approximately, about 20 minutes after it boils.
When the water has reduced add in the 1¼ cup of coconut milk, sugar, ground cinnamon and salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally with a whisker.
While the mixture is cooking, combine in a bowl the remaining coconut milk with the arrowroot (or cornstarch) to create a slurry. When the minutes of cooking are up, retire the saucepan from the heat and slowly add the arrowroot mixture to the saucepan while whisking. Return to heat and cook for 5 more minutes, until a pudding like paste forms.
Remove from heat and strain mixture through a mesh on the chocolate tart shell. Let it cool completely, then cover it loosely with plastic paper and chill in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours or ideally overnight. When ready to serve, sprinkle some ground cinnamon and cocoa powder over the top.