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Culinary SOS

Chocolate Valentine

February 15, 1996|ROSE DOSTI

DEAR SOS: For years we have been going to Rockenwagner in Santa Monica for its delicious chocolate tart dessert. Could you coax this recipe out of the chef?

--KRISTEN

DEAR KRISTEN: Wouldn't this make a great treat for the sweetest sweetie or sweeties you know? Warning: Roll up your sleeves. It's going to be a cooking feat you'll remember for a long time--but worth it.

ROCKENWAGNER'S CHOCOLATE TART

COFFEE CREME ANGLAISE

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 pint whipping cream or half and half

2 teaspoons finely ground coffee beans

In bowl of electric mixer beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is pale yellow and forms ribbon when beaters are lifted. Set aside.

In medium saucepan heat cream gently, stirring, just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in coffee. Add half of hot cream to egg mixture, beating with mixer, then return entire mixture to remaining cream. Place over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and coats back of metal spoon. Do not allow sauce to boil. Immediately pour hot sauce into bowl over another bowl filled with ice and stir to prevent further cooking or curdling. If lumps develop, strain sauce through a fine sieve. Refrigerate up to 24 hours before use.

ORANGE CONFIT

1 orange

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Using sharp swivel-bladed vegetable peeler, remove orange rind in pieces, then trim any white pith from back of each strip. Cut strips into 1/8-inch widths. Cover orange peel with cold water in small saucepan and bring to boil. Drain and return orange peel to pan, again cover with cold water and bring to boil. Drain and repeat process, this time draining on paper towels (this is called "triple blanching").

In clean saucepan combine sugar, water and corn syrup. Stir gently over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add blanched orange peel and bring to simmer, then simmer until orange peel is tender. Store confit, covered, in glass or ceramic bowl or jar in refrigerator until ready to serve or store up to 1 week.

PIE FILLING

9 ounces any fine semisweet Belgian, French or Swiss chocolate (Valrhona or Caillebaut preferred), coarsely chopped

1/2 cup butter

Pinch salt

6 egg yolks

Scant 1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 egg whites

6 strawberries, sliced and fanned

6 sprigs of mint

Powdered sugar

Combine chocolate and butter in top of double boiler (or large heat-proof bowl) over gently simmering water. Add salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is well-blended and smooth. Let chocolate mixture cool slightly.

In electric mixer, beat egg yolks and about 1/4 cup granulated sugar at high speed until mixture reaches ribbon stage. Fold egg yolk mixture into warm chocolate mixture, using rubber spatula.

Thoroughly clean and dry mixer blades. Beat egg whites with remaining sugar in clean, dry bowl until egg whites form stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture. Gently fold remaining egg whites into chocolate mixture, blending evenly but lightly. Pour into individual buttered and floured nonstick 4-inch tart pans, filling to within 1/2-inch of top. Place tarts on tray and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

When ready to serve, transfer tarts in pans to baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until top appears cracked and cake-like outside but remains runny inside, 8 to 10 minutes. Hold tart pan in one hand with oven-proof glove, loosen tart with sharp knife and turn out onto dessert plate.

Spoon pool of Coffee Creme Anglaise on opposite side of plate. Slice and fan strawberry and place next to sauce on each plate. Dot Orange Confit on top of each tart. Garnish each tart with mint sprig, and sprinkle little powdered sugar over all dessert. Serve with a lace cookie if desired. Serve at once.

Makes 6 individual tarts.

Each tart contains about:

985 calories; 260 mg sodium; 650 mg cholesterol; 71 grams fat; 87 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams protein; 1.31 grams fiber.

* Candlewick glass plates from Bristol Kitchens in South Pasadena.

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