What an unforgettable experience to eat honey straight from the hive, to press between one’s lips the bulging honeycomb to extract its precious nectar! This elixir which glitters in the light – at once translucent and mysterious, viscous and holding the last breath of a thousand flowers – does it not come to us at the end of an alchemy in which nature has poured all of its strength and voluptuousness? So here below on this earth, despite it all, is Man not meant for the happiness found in these fleeting and exceptional moments? Of that we are convinced, and such is precisely the feeling inspired in us by the Baked Chocolate Tart with Mascarpone and Honeycomb by Ottolenghi. Found in London’s Spitalfields area, the tart marks the inauguration of an indulgent week of pastry auditions in the tumultuous British capital.
This tart is composed of a shortcrust pastry topped with a layer of honey and caramel, covered with a generous layer of chocolate mousse. All of this is baked, before being dusted with cocoa powder on one half, and topped with a scoop of mascarpone and a crunchy triangle of caramel honeycomb, made with molasses coated in a thin layer of honey.
The Baked Chocolate Tart with Mascarpone and Honeycomb by Ottolenghi has a diameter of 70 mm and a height of 61 mm – caramel triangle included. The specimen we purchased weights 105 grams and costs 3.80£.
The tart smells of cocoa and honey. The caramel honeycomb triangle, which is usually made with molasses and sugar, has a unique texture – simultaneously crunchy and distinctively honeycombed. Its surface is covered in a thin honey veneer, and it instantly breaks into a thousand pieces in one’s mouth, before slowly melting on the tongue. The flavor of honey is nicely present, and even seems to be enhanced by a pleasant, discreet touch of salt. As for the scoop of mascarpone, it is beautifully shaped, its surface free of irregularities. It has the dense consistency reminiscent of cream cheese in a cheesecake. Very lightly sweet, it favorably mellows down the bitterness of the cocoa powder on the surface, and brings together all the tart’s components in each bite.
The chocolate mousse is the dessert’s predominant element. Its surface is very dry and shows fine cracks, witness to its journey in the oven prior to being decorated and presented. Beneath the surface, however, the mousse is as one would expect: very airy, light and not at all doughy. It has an intense chocolaty flavor. Underneath this mousse, the crust is lathered in an unexpected, unctuous layer of what seems to be a mix of caramel and honey, which serves as a thoughtful echo to the honeycomb on the surface. As the chocolate mousse is only lightly sweet, this under-layer of caramel and honey – itself inherently very sweet – enables a nice overall balance in sugar. Finally, the shortcrust pastry is pleasantly crumbly without being too buttery in taste. It is baked perfectly homogenously throughout.
The Baked Chocolate Tart with Mascarpone and Honeycomb by Ottolenghi is a dessert which holds its promises, and whose name faithfully describes its composition. It brings together a variety of textures, some of which are rather elaborate – the honeycomb for example, for which refinement goes so far as to coat it in honey, so as to better match the heralded concept. Several contrasts are perceptible upon tasting this dessert, between the stickiness and crunchiness of the honeycomb bits as they scatter in one’s mouth, the lightness yet intense flavor of the chocolate mousse, the density of the mascarpone, the unctuousness of the honey-caramel layer, and the crumbliness of the pastry crust. All of this is managed while achieving a reasonable balance in sweetness, and the dessert is assembled with care. Its originality and technical skill make this tart a successful dessert, and one which we highly recommend.
Score: 4.2/5 Excellent
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