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Benvenuti al Tutti!

Welcome to Luigi's Tastes of Italy

This blog is my small dedication to Italian cooking, and is abolutely 100% free of pretentiousness, complicated ingredients, or any effort to present Italian cuisine as anything other than it really is, very simple.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and maybe trying out some of the recipes.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Torta di Zucca, Con Cioccolato Amarro (Italian Pumpkin Tart with Bitter Chocolate)

Pumpkins are one of a few vegetables, which lend themselves very well, in fact equally well, to both sweet or savoury dishes. As much as I adore spicy pumpkin soup, or roasted pumpkin wedges, or even pumpkin risotto, my real favourite recipe, is one where it is combined with pieces of bitter chocolate, cinnamon syrup, and baked in a type of a tart.

To create the recipe listed below you can use practically any edible pumpkin, or a butternut squash, but I recommend an old variety from Venice called "Marina Di Chioggia".  (As are most of my other Italian vegetables, the seeds for these are stocked by Franchi Seeds, if you fancy growing your own).

Admittedly it is quite an ugly looking, knobbly skinned pumpkin, but it has a beautiful firm, not to moist, orange flesh which possesses an incredible flavour, both nutty and very sweet.

In this instance, beauty is certainly not skin deep. In fact, quite the opposite for this pumpkin, it is a beautiful vegetable on the inside!

So ok, now I have to mention the dreaded P word, Pastry.  I know lots of people love making it, but for me its a real chore, and time consuming. So when it comes to the base of the tart, I am not going to preach about the virtues of homemade pastry. As superior as it undoubtedly is, I personally feel life is just a little too short to make my own pastry (and basically because mine is often rubbish).  On this occasion however, I did have a go, and although I didn't neatly finish the edges when laying into the tin, it did taste really nice.

Despite todays efforts, I would normally use a "ready to use", frozen puff, or short crust pastry. However,  the choice, whichever way you go, is entirely yours.  I do include a brief overview on how I made the pastry, it is pretty simple actually.

The filling however, is entirely home made, natural, and is just a delicious, delightful combination of mashed pumpkin, cinnamon syrup, dark rum, and a bitter dark chocolate. If you don't ever make this, you will have to trust me when I say it is just divine as a combination, practically beyond words.

I should mention this is probably horrifically calorific, however I am a firm believer in not excluding any foods from diets.  I think a slice or two of this tart will do you no harm at all, and in my book a little natural sugar, is far healthier for you, than starving your body of any sugar at all, or eating copious amounts of that horrible aspartame stuff.

Having said that, if you are on a diet, you might want to pass on this one.


Sweet Pastry, (a puff pastry, or shortcrust would work fine) enough to line a 10-12 inch tart case, or flan dish.  If you wanted you could even buy a ready made sweet tart base.  Alternatively, if you insist on home made, to make a basic pastry, mix together 80g butter, and around 150g flour, turn into a breadcrumb texture then combine with 20g sugar, and around 100-150ml water until it gathers into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm (food wrap) and put in the fridge for 20 minutes, and then roll out as needed.

One medium sized Pumpkin, (aim for around 400g peeled flesh)
70g Dark Chocolate, something with 70% cocoa solids or above is ideal.
I normally use a Lindt, as the quality is exceptional in my opinion. 

100ml of water,
4 tablespoons of caster sugar,
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of a dark rum,

Icing sugar to dust finished tart.


-First thing to do, is to prepare the base.  Line a tart case with the pastry, and cover with baking beans (or similar) and bake in the middle of a moderate oven for around 10-15 or so minutes, until the base is a nice golden colour.  Then allow the tart to cool, and put to one side.

-Next you de-seed, skin and chunk the pumpkin, and roast in an oven until tender, somewhere around 30-40 minutes in a medium oven will do it.  Bake in foil to avoid colouring. Once cooked, cool the pumkin, and then mash it down.  Please mash it, after cooling, or else it won't work as well.

-Meanwhile, in a pan, add all the syrup ingredients, and bring to the boil, once at a boil, add the rum, then continue to simmer, and stir until you get to a syrup consistency.  A good way of describing it, would be just beyond the coating a back of a spoon stage, so slightly thicker than usual.  Strain the cinnamon out, allow to cool slightly.  As you can see below, it goes a nice golden caramel colour.

-Next grab your 200g of dark chocolate, and smash it into irregular sized chunks, ranging from tiny, to 1 inch sized pieces.

-In a suitable mixing bowl, add the cooled mashed pumpkin, and slowly add the syrup, until you get a nice smooth mixture, a bit like a firm mash potato mixture.  BE CAREFUL not to add to much syrup, almost always, you will have some left over (save it for sweetening drinks, or for next time).  Certainly you want to avoid the mixture looking anywhere near runny!

-Now add the broken chocolate into the pumpkin mixture, and carefully using a spatula add the contents into the tart case, fill to the top. Not following my own instructions I actually mixed the ingredients while the pumpkin was hot, and the chocolate melted, so looked rather untidy, bordering ugly, before being baked to the finish. However yours, will look much better than mine im quite sure. Also don't worry the finishing step of dusting with icing sugar, will make it look pwettty!  Honest!

-Carefully place the tart case into the center of a pre-heated moderate oven, and bake for around 15-20 minutes, until the top has browned. You will find it becomes a nice even medium brown colour. Remove the from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled dust the tart with icing sugar, and serve with a nice vanilla ice cream, or some whipped cream.  Enjoy!


Mari said...

Wow as I was reading this post, my mouth was watering more and more lol..that sounds so freaking amazing

Kim said...

I certainly agree with you that pastry is tricky, but well worth it. I love the idea of pumpkin with chocolate - sounds delicious!

chow and chatter said...

oh wow what a cool recipe love it

Alma said...

Thanks for the nice words you've said about my blog. Im still planning to make your tiramisu once I have a real mascarpone cheese on hand ;-)

Micaela said...

ottima davvero, ho già provato l'abbinamento zucca e cioccolato e mi piace molto! a presto.

Velva said...

This looks fabulous! I had to smile when you wrote about making pastry...I feel the same way. As always, a great blog post.

Mari said...

HAHA I love that my eats scare you...thanks for the love on your page!!! I feel so honored =) (((blushing))))

AND yup I heart PB...I think I go through 2 jars a week ((((shhhh)))) lol

Joanne said...

I don't know if you've noticed, but I absolutely LOVE pumpkin. Homemade pastry is hard to make, but I think the delicious taste at the end makes it all worth it.

This dessert sounds fabulous!

Donna said...

Do you have any recipes for making artisan bread?

rosasdolcevita said...

Love your post! The tart sounds sooooo yummy. Living in Germany I have no choice but to make my own pastry (not that I mind), but using an already made one saves lots of time.

The only thing I would probably do different in your recipe to save some time is to bake the pumpkin first for 30-40 minutes and then as that comes out of the oven, then I would bake the pastry. In the meantime, I peel and cut/mash the pumpkin. Hope that helps. :-)

Thanks for stopping by the other day! Looking forward to reading more of your posts.


Luigi said...

Your welcome Mari, as scary as it is, I do enjoy reading your exploits with Peanut butter. lol.

Thanks all, and Donna next time I make a Ciabatta, or a Foccacia I will photograph it, and blog it. That is about as "artisan" as I get though. Sorry. lol.

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