As a child of the 1980s, I, like many of my peers, went through a goth phase. While I never fully embraced the Dark Lord, I dabbled in black cherry lipstick and pale porcelain skin with liquid black eyeliner and a wardrobe of black clothes. I still love a lot of the music, my wardrobe is still probably two-thirds black and gray, and I have fully embraced the dark side when it comes to cooking.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
It started with black garlic. This sweet and savory fermented aged garlic is mellower and often more interesting than its fresh version. I started putting it in everything from barbecue sauce to chocolate chip cookies. Then poppyseeds started making appearances, both whole and ground, as a sweet filling for babka, a bit of punch in dips and cheese spreads, or for a pop and crunch garnish on all sorts of dishes. A trip to The Spice House sent me home with black nigella seeds. These lightly oniony little powerhouses became a favorite thing to crust the edges of crackers or roll goat cheese truffles in, or even sprinkled on top of dumplings. Black raspberries make me happier than red ones these days, and I gorge on them during their brief season.
(Get the recipe: Black Tahini Tart with Black Cocoa Crust.)
So, when I found black cocoa, it was an instantaneous love affair. There is nothing wrong with milk or even white chocolate, but my palate often wants something more complex. I’m more likely to break into a bar of 70% dark to chunk up for cookies or melt a 63% for brownies, to give me some bitterness to balance my sweets. Black cocoa is super intense, so you usually don’t want to use it straight if there is a lot of cocoa powder in your recipes. I recommend experimenting by swapping it in for half of the cocoa powder in your recipes and amping it up from there if you want to go darker. It brings not only a coffee-intense bitter edge to the chocolate, but also an underlying fruitiness that is reminiscent of red wine.
Black tahini came to me the same way. I had been using regular tahini a lot and stumbled across the version made with black sesame seeds. I ordered a jar, and while the flavor is just slightly toastier than the blonde tahini I’m used to, I mostly just loved how it looked. I made black tahini ice cream and black tahini buttercream and black tahini mousse.
So naturally, it didn’t take long for me to come up with a way to make a dark dessert that combined these two beautiful flavors. Chocolate and nutty flavors are always best pals (looking at you, Reese’s), so while it sounds a bit exotic, this tart will land on your palate with a bit of nostalgic comfort, just amped up a little bit. Like a chocolate peanut butter pie that has listened to a lot of the Smiths.
I often make this crust in a double batch, because it freezes beautifully. There is nothing wrong with having an extra chocolate crust in your freezer. Sometimes you want to make smaller individual tarts, and I think crusts taste better when you don’t have to re-roll scraps to make those last couple of small tart shells. So feel free to double the crust amounts and save half for a future tart, or easier smaller tarts.
The tahini buttercream will fill one tart or six small ones, but you can double it if you are making more.
Get the recipe: Black Tahini Tart with Black Cocoa Crust
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