Pauline van Hasselt (pictured left) has worked successfully as a chef for 15 years and is passionate about cooking and eating food. Beijing surprised her with a new career writing for beijingkids, but the culinary world is never far away. Van Hasselt is on a mission to find hidden gems of home cooking in this vibrant city of Beijing.
Dominika Mejia (right) is a career diplomat and mother of one. She is a member of the beijingkids parent board, and her love for food is always tangible at our meetings. We’ve worked together before, but this time we let her steal the show with her brain food.
Chocolate is a brain-boosting food as it improves blood flow to the brain. Her lush chocolate tart instantly made us a lot smarter and helped relieve our stress. Beets are another of those foods which are incredibly healthy for your heart and brain, rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Mejia had the wise idea of turning this brain food into a hummus to please the ravenous hordes and make them a bit healthier as they dip.
– 3 medium beetroots
– 400 grams can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 2 garlic cloves, crushed
– 2 tablespoons tahini
– 1 teaspoon salt
– ½ teaspoon ground cumin
– ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or smoked hickory seasoning (optional)
– ¼ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1. Wrap each beetroot in foil and roast for 1 hour (175°C) or until tender.
2. Peel roasted beetroot and coarsely chop. Place in a food processor with remaining ingredients and process until smooth and combined.
3. Decorate with green onions, small pieces of beet or crushed pistachio nuts.
– 200 grams (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
– 75 grams (½ cup) hazelnuts toasted and skinned
– ¼ teaspoon salt
– 170 grams (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– ½ cup sugar
– ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 large egg
– 1 ½ teaspoon orange zest
– 365 grams (2¼ cups) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (50 percent cocoa and 70 percent cocoa combined)
– 360 ml (1½ cups) heavy cream
– ¼ teaspoon salt
– 85 grams (3/8 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
– 2 large eggs, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 2 tablespoons heavy cream
– 50-60 grams (1/3 cup) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
– 1 tablespoon warm water
– Fresh edible flowers, strawberries, or raspberries
– 175 grams (1 cup) dark chocolate, tempered to make chocolate swirls
– Cocoa powder or chocolate shavings
Make tart base:
1. Preheat oven to 175°C with rack in middle.
2. Place the hazelnuts in a food processor, add one tablespoon of the sugar and process until fine. Scrape the nuts into a bowl and add the flour, chocolate, zest, and salt. Mix until combined.
3. Cream the butter and icing sugar together, then add the flour mix.
4. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla and slowly mix together until it forms a dough.
5. Scrape the pastry onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Let it rest for one hour in the fridge before using.
6. Butter the pan and then flour in order to avoid the pastry sticking to it.
7. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and roll it out between two sheets of wax paper to a 30 cm diameter disc. Carefully ease the pastry into the tart pan, pressing it into the corners and patching any tears.
8. Refrigerate the tart shell for 20 minutes.
9. Blind bake until the tart is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool and then refrigerate while you make the chocolate filling.
1. Place chocolate in a big bowl.
2. In a pan, heat the cream until hot, being careful not to boil, then pour over chocolate and let stand for five minutes. Gently stir until smooth. Add the butter and continue to stir until fully melted.
3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, and salt, then stir into melted chocolate.
4. Pour filling into cooled crust.
5. Bake until filling is set about three inches from edge but the center is still wobbly, 20 to 25 minutes (the center will continue to set as tart cools). Cool completely in pan or a rack, about 1 hour.
6. Unmold the tart and refrigerate for at least four hours, or ideally overnight.
Make glaze (the day of serving):
1. Bring cream to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in corn syrup, then warm water
2. Pour glaze onto tart, then tilt and rotate tart so glaze coats top evenly. Let stand until glaze is set, about one hour. To serve, use a hot knife to cut the tart into slices.
Photos: Uni You
This article appeared on p17-19 of beijingkids March 2018 issue.