entertainingfoodFood & Drink

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Tart

by Maxwell Tielman

As far as holidays go, Valentine’s Day can be pretty divisive. On one hand, you have those blissful coupled folks who wait for February 14th with excited anticipation—awaiting a day of cute handmade love notes and intimate dinners at fancy restaurants. On the other, you have those who vehemently, bitterly despise the holiday, begrudging its invention by greeting card companies as cause for singleton-shaming. Then, you have people like myself who fall somewhere in the middle—the oftentimes irritatingly smug ones who make claims like “Valentine’s Day is about all love!” while shoveling heart-shaped candies into their mouths. [Indeed, at least as far as I’m concerned, any opportunity to celebrate (especially when there is copious amounts of candy involved) is good by me—single or not.] Still, despite the vastly differing opinions on Valentine’s Day, I think we can all agree that the holiday gets at least one thing right. Chocolate. Whether February the 14th finds you immersed in starry-eyed romance, wallowing in the abysmal depths of self-pity (we’ve all been there), or just plain old apathetic about the whole thing—chocolate makes literally everything better. Bearing this in mind, we asked the ever-awesome Johnny Battles (yes, that’s his real name) of Charleston’s Sweeteeth Chocolate to contribute a recipe for the big day. And we’ll tell you right now—this scrumptious chocolate tart will help you get over any Valentine’s Day hangups. Dig in! —Max

Click through for the full recipe after the jump…


Crust- (I like a thick crust with my tarts so if you are looking for a thiner version feel free to reduce this by up to 1/2)
  • 4 cups ground graham crackers
  • 1.5lb melted high fat butter
  • 1/2 cup 10x sugar, sifted

Put ground grahams in a large mixing bowl and add the melted butter and 10x, folding until combined.  You’ll know you’re at the right place when you can make a clump in your fist but it remains a little crumbly.  Pour mixture in the center of a spring form pan and evenly spread and build the crust along the bottom and up the side until the entire thickness is uniform.  Toss it in the fridge and get at the fillin’s!

Quick Strawberry Jelly
  • 1lb fresh strawberries washed and quartered
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • zest and juice of two lemons
Toss cut berries in the sugar then cook on medium with lemon zest/juice until soft enough to mash with a spoon.  Turn off heat when liquid begins to thicken noticeably, approx 15-18 min. (times may vary depending on your particular medium and your cooking device)  Set aside until cooled.
Vanilla Ganache
  • 14oz dark chocolate in small drops or chopped finely — (you’ll want to get as high a quality as you’d hope to eat.  Careful picking chocolate from the store as some brands meant for cooking will have a percentage of wax which makes the mouthfeel rather off putting) I like a nice 65% for the darkness but still the subtle sweetness that’s sometimes avoided with darker versions.  On this, the choice is yours.
  • 12oz Heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded

Bring cream and vanilla bean to a boil and turn off the heat.  Let it infuse with the vanilla for about 10 minutes or so.  After the cream has a heavy vanilla aroma bring it to a second boil and pour through a strainer directly over the chocolate.  Swirl the chocolate bowl ever so slightly to make sure the hot cream is in contact with all the solid bits in the bowl.  Set aside to let slowly melt for about 3-4 minutes.   Take a whisk and slowly emulsify the chocolate and cream by whisking from the inside and moving slowly to the edge.  Once you’ve gotten a little chocolate puddin’ (a ganach rather) you can set the bowl aside until cooled. 


Assembling the mouth party:
Take the crust out of the fridge.
Take your cooled jelly and dump that business right in the center.  Careful that you don’t pour more in than you’d like.  I like this tart drippy and sloppy so that’s exactly how I make it.  Spread the jelly from the center to the edge of the crust wall.  Put in the fridge to set up for a quick 10 minutes or so, just until you get a little skin set up on the top of the jelly.
By the time your jelly is set your ganache should be nicely cooled.  I like to put mine in a squirt bottle so that I can apply it more smoothly to the top layer.  You can really just pour it right on there or even use an icing spreader, pallet knife, or offset spatula to do the dirty work. Or your hand.  Your hand works nicely, too.
After this it’s just a matter of setting up another 10-15 minutes in the fridge and then it’s ready to cut and enjoy.
Some things I like to do at the end to church it up a bit:
You could always add a dusting of powdered sugar to the top and really make it look lovely and soft.  Visual texture is always a great first bite.  I added a little hibiscus course sugar to the top and then a dollop of fresh chocolate and brown sugar whipped cream.  I tend to overdo it maybe.  At the end of the day it’s all about flavors you enjoy and portions you prefer.  Eat what you like and always try and enjoy yourself and those around you.





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  • any excuse for chocolate! this recipe looks delicious. i especially like the picture of johnny battles sprinkling the tart with extra lovelies.

  • Looks gorgeous and tasty! Can we hear a little more about that hibiscus coarse sugar? Like how to make, it, or where to buy it?

  • Ditto on the hibiscus coarse sugar – how to make/where to buy. Are there any easy alternatives for fun colorful garnish?

  • Hey there, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

  • This looks amazing! I will be making it Friday for Valentine’s Day. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • The crust calls for way too much butter. less than half of the 1.5lb of butter is needed.

  • used 1.5 lbs butter….. WAY too much. I have a butterball now and it’s beyond repair, seems like.

  • Oh my gosh! Best of both worlds: strawberries & chocolate. Like you I fall somewhere in the middle too. I’m stoked on chocolate, roses and celebrating love, no matter the kind or strength (family, friends, loves, past loves). I’m going to try this recipe out. Pinned :)

  • Looks amazing and bookmarked but by the 2nd last picture my eyes just got excited and scanned the whole space terminator style. It got me intrigued. Love the combo of old avocado fridge with vintage jars on black wall with yellow poster and red flames next to the bright sky blue wall behind the chest freezer. It’s like your Design*Sponge’s original mini sneak peeks before they became big house tours. :) Would love to see more.