Chocolate & Orange Torta Della Nonna

I love an excuse to bake something a little bit special so when I invited some friends over for dinner last weekend I had a good rummage through the recipe books and hundreds of magazine cuttings I’ve saved to look for some inspiration. I fancied a chocolate tart and settled upon this one as making a custard was something I’ve never done before and I fancied the challenge!

If you’ve got time then I’d recommend making this the day before you plan on serving it to give it plenty of time to chill in the fridge. It’s a bit of a lengthy recipe but don’t be put off, whilst there are a few different stages they’re all pretty straight forward and easy to execute, just make sure you allow plenty of time.

Torta Della Nonna is a traditional Tuscan dessert that literally translates to ‘Grandmother’s cake’. For the traditional version the pastry case is filled with a vanilla custard flavoured with lemon zest, however this version really ups the indulgence factor by swapping the lemon for orange and adding chocolate!

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Ingredients:

For the pastry:

280g plain flour

175g cold unsalted butter

75g icing sugar

2 egg yolks, beaten

For the filling:

1 litre semi-skimmed milk

1 vanilla pod

7 egg yolks

250g golden caster sugar

85g 00 flour

100g ricotta

Zest of 2 oranges

200g dark chocolate, grated

75g pine nuts

For decoration:

Gold spray or sprinkles

Method

  1. Blend the plain flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Slowly pour in the egg yolks whilst continuing to blend.
  3. When the dough has come together tip it out onto a floured surface, knead for a couple of minutes and then flatten into a disc shape. Cover in cling film and place in the fridge to chill.
  4. While the pastry is chilling make a start on the filling. Put a saucepan on a low-medium heat and gently warm the milk. Split the vanilla pod, and scrape the seeds into the milk.
  5. When the milk begins to bubble around the edges remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  6. In a bowl beat the egg yolks, sugar and flour until the mixture reaches a mousse like consistency.
  7. When the milk has cooled slowly pour it into the egg mixture whilst continuing to whisk to form a custard.
  8. Pour the custard into a saucepan on a medium-low heat and continue to whisk. Cook until the custard has thickened, continuing to whisk as you go. It should take about 10 minutes for the custard to reach quite a thick consistency and no longer be runny.
  9. When ready pour into a separate dish and leave to cool. Cover with cling film to prevent a skin from forming.
  10. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out until approximately 3-4mm thick and use it to line a 24cm loose bottomed tart tin. Cover and place in the fridge to chill for for 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  12. Line the tart case with foil or greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  13. Remove the baking beans and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
  14. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  15. Turn the oven temperature down to 160ºC.
  16. Remove the cling film from the custard and mix in the ricotta, orange zest and grated chocolate until well combined. Spread evenly into the tart shell and sprinkle over the pine nuts.
  17. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
  18. When cooked leave to cool before placing in the fridge and chilling for 2-3 hours, or overnight if you’ve got time.
  19. Use edible gold spray or golden sugar sprinkles to decorate and serve.
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