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A few years back around Christmas, my friend Patty asked me to help her out in her retail store as a set of extra hands for all of the holiday shoppers. Patty worked for a large gourmet food and kitchen accessory store which blew minds immediately upon entry. It had everything, from the top of the line Dutch ovens to the smallest bottle of Red Boat Fish Sauce. Vivian Howard, my favorite Celeb chef, even paid a couple of visits to the store to perform cooking demos and promote her cookbook. My role was to help in the coffee and tea department. I was both a temporary and a newbie to anything retail, so presumably they placed me where they could babysit me. And a good decision they made, for coffee and tea was vast, boasting teapots and European coffee accessories, as well as loose teas and flavored coffee beans. I scooped. Hour after hour, scooping and weighing and grinding fresh roasted and flavored coffee beans. This store carried everything and certainly drew the crowds. It was utterly Bonkerville at times, and certainly gave me an appreciation for retail, which is how I know I’m not cut out for it. Patty on the other hand….grace under pressure.
The one thing I learned during my short stint as a holiday retail helper in a gourmet food and kitchen store was that I was good at explaining flavor profiles to people. In fact, I was very comfortable referencing things I knew folks would or could relate to. The flavored coffees as it turned out, were fantastic olfactory markers for many sweet and savory foods. By allowing folks to smell the undersides of the jar lids of a particular flavored bean, I was able to pair the coffee with another stand alone product in the store, such as a cookie or cured smoked sausage or specific flavor of jam. My having the items available to ‘demonstrate’ were only part of it, the rest coming from childhood memories of the shoppers themselves, as is evidence of how powerful our sense of smell and taste really is. Needless to say, I sold a ton of coffee.
One of my favorite days was a day somebody made a grind mistake. They’d somehow ground and mixed together a chocolate flavored bean with a Seville orange flavored bean. Patty purchased the bum bag for me because she knew how fond I was of the Seville orange. It turned out to be the best mistake anybody had ever made, though I’m certain it wasn’t a first. I couldn’t get enough of that coffee and would put a cup through my sturdy little Bialetti at home on a Sunday morning and revel in it. It reminded me so much of countless cups of amazing coffee I’d experienced in France, and every sip made my mind wander. And it got me thinking about flavor profiles again. I loved the milk chocolate orange balls you see around the holidays as a kid, the ones you break off in sections (somebody was clever), and I’ve always been bad about NOT being able to pass by a chocolatier without buying myself a treat of a chocolate dipped candied orange peel. I guess it’s no surprise that chocolate and orange is a strong profile for me. So I have to bring it to the table as a dessert now, because that’s just what I do. This is a quick tart that comes together with minimal effort. And let’s not kid ourselves here; it’s dessert, so it’s loaded with extra calories, but a slice won’t break your stride.
Ingredients For A Sour Orange and Chocolate Tart
5 ounces chocolate cookie wafers
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I use Borden’s)
6 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (I use Minute Maid)
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 6 tablespoons juice (2 lemons)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Process cookie wafers, sugar, and salt in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and pulse until combined, about 8 pulses. Transfer crumbs to 9 inch tart pan lined with parchment. Using a scant amount of butter rubbed on the bottom will help secure the parchment.
Using bottom of dry measuring cup, press crumbs firmly into bottom and up sides of tart pan. Bake crust until fragrant, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Whisk all remaining ingredients in bowl until fully combined. Pour filling into cooled crust.
Bake tart until center jiggles slightly when shaken, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely. Refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 3 hours before popping the tart from the pan form. Having used parchment to line, your tart should easily transfer to a flat cake stand or plate. Garnish with whipped cream and orange peel.
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