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Ah, the joys of a sugar high!

January’s sugar high is being hosted by none other than David Lebovitz who clearly knows that chocolate is king … and queen for that matter. The theme for SHF #27 is Chocolate by Brand.

When I bake, I generally use Lindt chocolate, which is easy to find in my neck of the woods. It’s affordable and I like the way it tastes in baked goods. When I can find other types of chocolate like Valrhona or Scharffen Berger, I will occasionally splurge and use those as well. But for the most part, Lindt is my baking chocolate of choice.

Dscn4555For SHF #27, however, I hoped to try a type of chocolate that I wouldn’t normally bake with. As luck would have it, the gods of baking presented me with such an opportunity when I happened upon Amedei chocolates in one of my favourite gourmet shops.

I first came across Amedei when I read about the company in an issue of Food & Wine magazine. Amedei is an Italian chocolate company started in 1990 by the brother and sister team of Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri. If I started a chocolate business with my brother we’d likely end up hurting each other in an effort to gobble up the chocolate so right off the bat, I am a huge admirer of the Tessieris ability to work together! Located near Pisa, Amedei has become renowned for creating some of the best chocolate in the world.

Dscn4558The Tessieris make chocolate from scratch, travelling widely to find the best cacao available. Their hard work has paid off in droves as they have been the recipients of many awards including several gold medals at the World Chocolate Awards for their outstanding creation, Amedei Chuao, which is a single-plantation chocolate made from the cacao of the Chuao plantation in Venezuela. This is a limited edition chocolate that is actually hand-numbered.

Something else you need to know about Amedei chocolate:  it’s not cheap. I bought three (small) bars, two of which cost $9 and the third cost $12. I suppose my wallet should be happy that this is difficult to find. I’ve only ever seen it in one store here in Toronto and the selection available is very small.

Cost and availability aside, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to both taste Amedei chocolate and of course, bake with it. I would normally not bake with such an expensive chocolate, but for SHF I’m willing to try anything. I sold a kidney, bought some more Amedei chocolate, and off I went to the Cream Puff kitchen.

Dscn4548While I’d initially entertained ideas for all sorts of intriguing chocolate desserts, I instead decided to make something simple that would allow the quality of this chocolate to shine through. I decided to try a recipe for a "Perfectly Simple Dark Chocolate Tart" from Lori Longbotham’s (love her!) Luscious Chocolate Desserts. Longbotham is, in my humble opinion, one of the best cookbook authors out there. I own most of her cookbooks and woe to anyone that tries to take them from me.

Lori’s recipe is straightforward. You begin by making a crust of flour, cocoa powder and butter. The crust also includes a bit of icing sugar and ground, toasted walnuts for flavour. The tart filling is made of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. The final product is dusted with cocoa powder for that perfect last touch.

I decided to use Amedei Tuscan Black chocolate, which has 63 per cent cocoa solids. The chocolate was strong and not too sweet. The hardest part about making this dessert was trying not to eat the chocolate before I could melt it for the tart filling. Because this was my first time trying the chocolate tart, I haven’t had the chance to adapt it or make it my own. Consequently, I’m not posting the recipe.

[Update:  A wonderful reader by the name of PinkPoppies alerted me to the fact that Lori Longbotham has actually posted this tart recipe on her site:  http://www.lorilongbotham.com/index.html. Not only that, apparently the original recipe in the book's first edition had an error. The filling is missing 1 cup of cream. The recipe on her site includes the corrected version. I ended up making the version without the correction and the tart was amazing. I can imagine how good it will be with the cream! Here's the recipe my friends:  http://www.lorilongbotham.com/choctartrecipe.html. Thanks so much, PinkPoppies!]

Ciao!

Here are some links for more information about Amedei chocolate:

Amedei (Italian site)

Amedei (International site)

"The World’s Best Chocolate" from Food & Wine magazine

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