The CSA panier that I get usually contains about 5 types of vegetables and 1 fruit every week. And every week there is at least one surprise, which is one of my favorite things about it. I love the challenge of coming up with recipes for things I don’t think I like, or new ways to use things I’m getting tired of, and especially playing with new (to me) ingredients. Picking up my first delivery after coming back from vacation, I was expecting a bag brimming with luscious summer produce – tomatoes (check), zucchini (check), eggplant (not yet), stone fruits and berries (no dice). The first fruit I got (of which I got a double ration) was cassis.
At first glance I thought they were blueberries, which excited me greatly. Further inspection revealed two pints of blackcurrants (cassis in French). Tart and seedy, they didn’t lend themselves to out-of-hand eating, so I set about finding something to do with them. A search of my Frenchie-est cookbooks came up fruitless (rimshot). Desperate for some inspiration, I opened up Pierre Hermé’s Larousse du Chocolat (which, regrettably, doesn’t seem to exist in English, at least not on Amazon) and found one recipe using cassis. It was a ridiculously complicated chocolate and cassis entremet, with multiple layers of cake, ganache, syrup, and glaze. Way fussier than anything I want to do outside of work. I did, however, think that the ganache portion of the dessert had potential. A cassis ganache tart sounded terribly sophisticated, and easy, too. So I threw together a quick batch of my favorite sweet crust and baked it to a crisp golden brown.
The ganache itself was quite simple. Minimalist, even. I buzzed the fresh cassis with my immersion blender and was delighted by the rich burgundy color.
I pushed this mush through a fine-mesh strainer and was rewarded with an impossibly shiny, jewel-toned purée.
I combined the purée with some water, sugar, and crème de cassis liqueur and brought the mixture to a boil. As soon as it was hot, I poured it over some chopped chocolate (70%, from Madagascar, because chocolate from there tends to be fruity and I thought it would be a harmonious pairing), let it sit for a minute to soften the chocolate, then stirred until the ganache was silky smooth. Hermé’s recipe called for as much butter as chocolate, but I was afraid that would dull the flavors. So I whisked in a teaspoon or two of butter and called it good. While it was still warm, I poured the ganache into the cooled tart shell and carefully set it in the fridge to set up. There was a little extra ganache, so Nick and I dipped strawberries and apricots into it to get our chocolate fix for the evening. I’m pleased to report it was delicious.
The next night, I removed the tart from the pan and cut a couple of thin slices. They looked lonely all alone on their spare white plates, so I strewed a few fresh cassis over them and called it dessert.
Every bit as elegant as I had hoped, the ganache was the perfect consistency: firm enough to hold its shape when sliced, yet soft enough to melt upon contact with the tongue. The chocolate and cassis made great friends, too, the bittersweet chocolate taming the puckery cassis while allowing it to keep its personality. Which makes me wonder… why aren’t there more chocolate-cassis recipes out there? And what would you do with fresh cassis? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Originally published on Croque-Camille.