A sweet trip into the world of chocolate begins…

A trip we haven’t done yet is the one into the world of chocolate… We are sure that it will be one of your favourites, and of course it will take more than one article. At times it will come back to sweeten us with another piece of dark, milk or white chocolate. In our first chocolate article we will dive for a while into the history of chocolate and of the chocolate tart in particular, and we will make our own healthy variation: a tart with dark chocolate, pears in grape molasses and a base made with extra virgin olive oil. If you got a craving for it, follow us!

Our chocolate tart is healthy and therefore we can enjoy a big piece!

We like to approach the subjects we discuss in a methodic way, so we will start with the definition of chocolate. The broad term chocolate refers to preparations that contain seeds from the fruits of the cocoa tree (cacao tree or Theobroma cacao) as a basic ingredient.

The fruit of the cocoa tree.

The route from the plant to the products -which are either consumed directly or used in pastry- is briefly presented by the National Confectioners Association: the farmers open the fruits, take the seeds out and then a process of fermenting and drying follows. Then, the seeds are shipped all over the world, where they get checked and cleaned, baked and ground. The outcome is the chocolate liquor, a dense liquid.

Crushed cocoa tree fruits.
The dried cocoa seeds.

Then, the chocolate liquor is either pressed so that it gets separated into cocoa that gets ground into powder, and cocoa butter from which white chocolate is produced, or it is mixed with other ingredients, such as sugar, to become the well known chocolate in bars.

Chocolate, one of the basic ingredients in pastry and a beloved treat!
Contemporary creation, chocolate trilogy with dark, white and milk chocolate.

The history of chocolate is truly ancient and it begins around 1900 BC, in the area of today’s North Mexico and Central America. As Christina Tzialla describes in an article in Glykes Alchimies magazine (42), excavations have shown that the Mayans used to consume a warm chocolate drink, that tasted bitter though. But, except for that, they used the seeds of the cocoa tree as coins with exchange value. Later on, the Aztecs would also drink chocolate, in the form of a drink coloured with red colouring, intensely flavored with chili, vanilla and seeds from the exotic kapok tree.

Although they wouldn’t serve it exactly that way, a long time ago the Mayans and the Aztecs loved drinking chocolate too!
Enjoying hot chocolate in the modern times…

The seeds were brought to Europe for the first time by Christopher Columbus in the 15th century. However, he was only aware of their monetary function and so they ended up in a museum. From our historic and cultural knowledge, though, we know that at this period museums didn’t exist. What existed was the habit of collecting peculiar objects that the explorers had found in their travels and gathering them in special spaces. Those first “museums” are called cabinets of curiosities, meaning cupboards with peculiar objects. In the 17th century those rooms gained great importance and became the forerunners of museums as we know them today. In this historic context we will dare to imagine the first cocoa seeds getting lost in a multitude of other colourful and diverse “exotic” objects…

A characteristic cabinet of curiosities, the Wormiani museum, the museum of the physicist, historian and collector Ole Worm, 1655 (source).

The first European to have tasted chocolate, according to Christina Tzialla, was the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés in the 16th century. He envied the unending energy of the Aztec emperor and tried the miraculous drink that emperor Montezuma consumed in a kind of over the top quantity we’d say -40 cups a day! So, chocolate got to Spain, but only to the houses of the aristocracy.

In the 17th century chocolate reached Italy, where it was treated as a spice, and as a drink too. After that, it was England’s turn and then it spread all around Europe. Chocolate arrived to Greece in the mid 19th century and its first form was an expensive drink produced in Pavlidis pastry shop.

Since then chocolate has established its place in pastry, where we find it in various forms, in sponges, cookies, creams, decorations and much more…

But how did chocolate, from a drink get to becoming an ingredient used in pastry, a tart filling for example? Although in the 18th century people may have preferred to enjoy their chocolate as a drink, and even for breakfast, some first chocolate tart recipes existed, for example. According to food historian Joyce White, a Chocolate Tart recipe is found in Patrick Lamb’s book Royal Cookery or The Compleat Court Cook of 1731. A later version of the same recipe was published in 1800 in Hannah Glasse’s book The Complete Confectioner.

Chocolate tart made according to an 18th century recipe (source).

Put a Spoonful of Rice-Flower, and a little salt in a pan, together with the yolks of five eggs, a little milk, and mix them well together, then add a Pint of cream, and Sugar according to your Direction; Set it all to boil over a Stove taking Care that it do not curdle: mean while Grate some Chocolate into a Plate, dry it a little before the Fire, and when your Cream is boiling, take it off the First, mix your chocolate well with it, and set it by a cooling: Sheet a Tart-pan, put in Your Cream and bake it. When it is baked glaze it with powder’d sugar and a red hot shovel so serve it. Note, We make a Cinnamon-Tart in the same manner, only using grated Cinnamon instead of the chocolate.

Royal Cookery or The Compleat Court Cook, 1731

Therefore, chocolate tarts were firstly made with a custard containing eggs that had to be baked in the oven. Another version, rather more common today we’d say, exists, a prebaked tart shell filled with a chocolate ganache. This kind of chocolate tart is a later recipe, as chocolate ganache was later discovered, around 1850 in France, by accident. We read that an apprentice confectioner accidentally spilled a jar of heavy cream into a bowl of chocolate. To hide his blunder, he mixed them, hoping that noone would notice. His teacher cought him, though, and yelled “ganache!”, which in French means incompetent… And so one of our favourite preparations was born!

Chocolate ganache, a delicious and totally useful accident!

The classic French Tarte au chocolat is prepared with tart dough (pâte brisée or pâte sablée) and chocolate ganache. However, classic tart doughs contain lots of butter. As we have mentioned in other articles too, at Eat Dessert First Greece we want to suggest healthy alternatives that make use of pure local ingredients.

French Tarte au Chocolat, with almond pâte sablée covered and a dark chocolate ganache top layer, from the pastry shop of Jean-Paul Hévin in Paris (source).

Consequently, we will substitute a delicious and crunchy tart base made with extra virgin olive oil -first harvest extra virgin olive oil in particular- for the buttery tart dough. Such a choice, except for beneficial to our health, is also a great fasting and vegetarian/vegan alternative when filled with fruit, jam, tahini or peanut butter cream, olive oil ganache and whatever else you can imagine, so keep it in mind!

A previous chocolate tart by Eat Dessert First Greece with chocolate ganache and hazelnuts, decorated with whipped chocolate ganache.

First harvest extra virgin olive oil is the oil produced from unripe olives. As we read in an article of Eat Me magazine (12), first harvest extra virgin olive oil has a green colour due to the chlorophyll of the unripe fruit, that has many antioxidants. It contains many nutrients, vitamins, metals and polyphenols. It is usually used raw, to retain the most of its nutrients.

Using first harvest extra virgin olive oil in pastry is considered kind of “dangerous” because of its bitter and spicy flavor compared to extra virgin olive oil. However, who dares wins and contemporary pastry shouldn’t be scared! So, we dared too and the outcome excited us! The light bitterness of the first harvest extra virgin olive oil, according to our opinion of course, blends perfectly with dark chocolate… Give it a go and you’ll see!

In our recipe we used the first harvest extra virgin olive oil of Oleosophia company from Kalentzi village in Corinth province, Greece. Oleosophia, Marianna’s and George’s family business, produces limited quantities of extra virgin olive oil from olives picked by hand in the family olive grove located along the sides of Mt. Fokas, aiming at promoting Greek ethos and values related to nature, its goods and life itself.

Our recipe

Healthy tart with dark chocolate, pears in grape molasses and a base made with extra virgin olive oil

Can you believe that this tart is kind of healthy?

Ingredients for the healthy tart base

Extra virgin olive oil (first harvest)160 ml
Cake flour390 gr
Grape molasses30 gr
Salt1/3 tsp
Cinnamon1 tbsp
Vanilla or bitter almond extract3-4 drops
The first step must always be gathering our ingredients, and of course making healthy and high quality choices!

How to make the healthy tart base

In a container mix the extra virgin olive oil, grape molasses and bitter almond extract. Place the flour, salt and cinnamon in the mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on and pour the extra virgin olive oil mixture slowly into the flour. Beat for a minute, until a dough forms. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and put it for an hour at least into the registrator to firm up.

Mix the liquids in a container, mix the solids in a bowl and then mix them together.
Beat for a minute in the mixer until a dough forms.
The dough looks like biscuits, crumbles and smells great!

Line a tart pan (we used a rectangle springform pan) with the dough by pressing with your hands, as it is very crumbly and can’t get rolled out with a rolling pin. Warning, you’ll have to use some force to line the pan correctly… Make the surface even with a metal spatula or a fork.

We tried to make the surface even, but we didn’t put too much effort as it will get covered with the delicious ganache we will make in a while!

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 25 minutes. Then, allow it to cool.

Ingredients for the dark chocolate filling

Dark chocolate couverture200 gr
Heavy cream400 gr
Brown sugar2 tbsp

How to make the dark chocolate filling

Our tart’s filling is actually a chocolate ganache. First of all, cut the couverture into small pieces and place them in a bowl. At the same time, heat the heavy cream with the brown sugar in a saucepan until it begins to boil, meaning until you see the first bubbles on the heavy cream’s surface. Then, take the heavy cream off the heat and pour it over the chocolate pieces. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it stand for a minute. Then, stir well with a hand whisk or a spatula until fully homogenised.

As soon as the ingredients get homogenised, the ganache will look silky smooth and shiny…

Pour the ganache over the tart base and place the pan into the refrigerator to set.

Into the refrigerator right away!

Ingredients for the pears in grape molasses

Grape molasses2 tbs

How to make the pears in grape molasses

Peel the pears and slice them into thin slices, the thinner the better. Pour the grape molasses into a small pan and heat it at medium heat. Add the pears and let them boil in the grape molasses for ten minutes, turning them over every now and then to allow the grape molasses to go from side to side and soften the pears properly. The thinner we had cut the slices, the sooner they will soften.

Showing off our cutting skills by slicing the pears in thin slices.
Boil the pears in two tablespoons of grape molasses for ten minutes until they soften and sweeten.

As soon as the pears are ready too, it is time for food styling! Now you improvise… We layed out the pear slices on the ganache’s surface (carefully as it wasn’t totally firm) and sprinkled bran sticks on top.

Place the pears carefully so that they don’t sink!

Then, we placed our healthy tart in the refrigerator for several hours, an obligatory torture for the ganache to stabilise, so that we can cut the tart into nice pieces and offer them to our beloved ones… So, be patient and enjoy!

A piece of chocolate tart from Eat Dessert First with lots of love!

We warmly thank the family business Oleosophia for the products they send us to support our recipes:

OLEOSOPHIA First Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil, OLEOSOPHIA First Harvest Manaki Extra Virgin Olive Oil from 100% green manaki olives and OLEOSOPHIA Premium Blend Manaki Extra Virgin Olive Oil from 80% green manaki olives, a premium extra virgin olive oil produced with handpicked olives and only by mechanical methods, by cold extraction. In a luxurious, modern packaging that we like very much!

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. A great post. I enjoyed your history of chocolate.


    1. Thank you very much dear Roberta!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. CarolCooks2 says:

    It was lovely to read the history of chocolate followed by a delicious chocolate tart 🙂


  3. A very delicious post!!


    1. Τhank you so much for your nice comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome!


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