I’m kind of annoyed with dessert menus at restaurants.
First of all, they often just change seasonally, if at all. And when they do change, there are a couple of standbys that never shift. At any given time of year, you can be pretty sure that there will be crème brulee and molten chocolate cake on the menu, along with a fruit-based dessert (tart or crisp, usually) and an assortment of ice creams and sorbets.
Don’t get me wrong. I love all those things. But why can’t pastry chefs be allowed to really get creative? To have more fun? And, dare I suggest it, change the menu at least (gasp!) monthly? Would that be so terrible? It’s more expensive for restaurant owners, of course. But let the pastry chefs do what they do best!
You see, I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that dessert at restaurants is no longer worth it, both in that it’s overpriced and mundane. I order it on special occasions, or at special restaurants, and then leave the rest of my indulgences to my own baking. At home, I take risks. I try new things. That guarantee doesn’t exist in fine dining anymore.
Take this strawberry ganache tart. I can make this whole tart for a fraction of what one slice would cost at a restaurant, and it tastes amazing. It’s pretty, too, and a great option for an at-home date this Valentine’s Day.
Listen, I’m not trying to pretend that running a restaurant is easy, nor do I think that I could do an amazing job in that setting. But here at home, this tart is making me plenty happy. In fact, after I added the last touch of drizzle and stepped back to examine the finished product, my heart sang a little. Nothing is prettier than a finished tart!
It was hard to destroy the prettiness and cut it up into slices, but the good news is, I gave half away and froze the other half for this coming weekend. Saturday night after the kids are in bed and the angels are singing, Kenny and I will have some tart and wine. It’s the perfect date.
And maybe I’ll stop being so, well, emphatic about dessert menus at restaurants. This is the season of love, after all. But if you are a creative soul, you might want to think about making your desserts mainly at home and saving the restaurant splurges for the occasional creative departure from the norm on the dessert menu. That makes it all the more special.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Coat a tart pan (it should have a removable bottom) with cooking spray.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Stir in the cocoa, sugar and graham cracker crumbs, mixing until moistened and well combined.
- Press the crust ingredients into the tart pan, pressing the crumbs firmly into the bottom and up the sides.
- Bake for 15 minutes until set. Cool.
- While the crust cools, make the ganache. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and heavy cream together for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stir until melted and smooth.
- Pour the ganache into the crust. Carefully set the whole tart in the refrigerator for 2 hours to firm up.
- When the ganache is more set, press the sliced strawberries gently into the top in whatever pattern you desire.
- Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth. Drizzle over the tart.
- Chill until you're ready to serve. Cut into wedges.