Mexican Mocha Tart-for chasing shadows…

Today is a special day.  For most, it was the total eclipse being visible across the US in a very long time.  It was also special for a few, my Mom’s 90th birthday.  The more I think about it, the more I see the similarities in the two events.

My mother does not walk among us any longer.  Even the last few years of her life, she was rarely present.  To catch a moment when she was “there” was truly special.  It was a moment to be remembered and treasured.  I think she would have liked the fact that the eclipse was today of all days.  She certainly would have laughed one of her signature laughs.  Those of us who knew her, know what I mean.

My youngest brother and his family arrived the day before, to see the other special event. We got together for some Mexican food prepared by another brother’s wife so I decided to make an appropriate Mexican style dessert.  Chocolate of course.

I decided to make it with coffee, cinnamon and almonds.  A cinnamon cookie crust, chocolate filling with espresso and cinnamon toasted almonds for the top.  As a nod to the eclipse, I placed the topping on to match the event.  An open space for the moon to cross my tart!

My sister in law teased me about this not being a “not much time” dessert.  But in actuality, it didn’t take as long as it could have.  The nuts toasted for just 20 minutes.  I made the crust while they toasted and then baked it for 20 minutes.  While the crust bakes you make the filling on the stove-its no bake.  Hands on time was just about an hour.  The taste is so good that, for special occasions-and this is certainly that, its OK to spend a few more minutes.  It was worth it.

You’ll need:

For the topping

  • Parchment paper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

For the crust

  • 3/4 of a 9-ounce package cinnamon cookies (European style), finely ground in processor
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

  • 1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 individual pkg (0.11 oz) of espresso powder
  • 12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sweeten condensed milk (or to taste)

To toast the almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place parchment paper over rimmed baking sheet Whisk all ingredients except almonds in a medium bowl. Stir in nuts with a spatula. Spread evenly on sheet. Bake until just browned and dry, about 20 minutes. Cool on sheet. Break into small pieces-nickel to quarter size.

While the almonds are toasting….

For the crust

Keep oven at 350°F.  Blend all but the butter of the crust ingredients in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are moistened. Press crumbs into 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, to within 1/8 inch of top. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

While the crust is baking and the nuts are cooling….

For the filling

Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add espresso powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir until dissolved. Add chocolate, whisk until melted. Add butter, 1 piece at a time; whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Stir and check for sweetness. Drizzle in condensed milk while whisking. Taste again. You want a balance between the sweetness and mocha so one isn’t stronger than the other. Pour filling into crust. Chill until filling begins to set, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Arrange nuts in a pleasing pattern on the tart.  (You don’t have to wait for the next eclipse to make this!) Chill until firm, about 4 hours.  This tart can be made a day ahead and kept refrigerated until time to serve.

Slice into small wedges—its rich, decadent, delicious, special.  Share with someone special.  Enjoy!

_____________________________________________________________________

So how did our eclipse viewing turn out?  Well….

Today’s forecast was not in our favor.  It called for cloudy skies and isolated thunderstorms, but we were not deterred and headed north anyway.

We chose the town of Hiawatha, KS and went to the western ball field.  And got rained on.  Not hard rain but it was pretty cloudy.  Then our Mom felt sorry for us and the clouds cleared a bit and we could see the eclipse starting.  We were able to watch while the moon kept moving over.  Problem was, the clouds started moving too.  We could see the “hole” we were enjoying was headed northeast.  So like the crazy children our Mom would be proud of-we all jumped in our cars and started chasing the opening.  Only 12 minutes before totality!

At first we were able to keep up with it while driving….down to less than 5 minutes to go.  Then our little “hole” chose to…disappear.  We found ourselves on a hill outside of town with no open sky anymore.  So we all pulled over and witnessed the darkness itself that comes at totality.

These shots are just after 1pm.  Even without getting to see the corona, it was still pretty cool.

We all just looked around and then looked at each other….and laughed.  There could have been worse ways to spend Mom’s birthday.  I will cherish this day as well.  Enjoy the tart, cherish your family and your memories together. 🙂

The next eclipse is in about 7 years—Texas!

6 thoughts on “Mexican Mocha Tart-for chasing shadows…

    • This one has a great balance between the sweet, the coffee and the chocolate. Adjusting the amount of sweetener to suit your taste will make it all the more special for you and your occasion to share. Hope you try it soon!

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