Love and Olive Oil

Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart

Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart from

I just got back from Food Blog Forum in Asheville, North Carolina (full recap coming as soon as I can wade through all my photos), and by just I mean nearly two weeks ago (my how time flies). Overall an amazing event, one to remember, but without a doubt one of the highlights of the trip was getting to know Asheville’s French Broad Chocolates, a bean-to-bar chocolate company dedicated to having a positive impact on their community and chocolate world at large.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Asheville, NC

Owner Jael Rattigan attended the conference and provided plenty of tasty treats along the way, from one-bite chocolate espresso cupcakes to decadent salted honey caramels to strawberry balsamic truffles and blueberry beet macarons (I die). I enjoyed speaking with her over the course of the two-day event, her passion and dedication to her craft apparent in everything she said.

But the thing that made my heart flutter more than anything was the Lindsay-sized bar of baking chocolate she so generously provided to all of the attendees. It reminded me of the “Pound Plus” bars from Trader Joe’s, except so much better.

Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart from

But just what to DO with a gigantic bar of beautiful chocolate? The decision was harder than I thought. I have a tendency to ‘hoard’ the good stuff, opting for decent but lesser-expensive chocolate and ingredients for my everyday baking. The problem is that I’m always saving the good stuff for something special, and my definition of “special” is, apparently, too lofty. I’ll admit, I’ve let some amazing ingredients expire, and for that I should be ashamed (believe me, I am).

Not wanting to let one of Jael’s chef tablets to go to waste, I immediately started scouring recipes for the perfect use for this gorgeous chocolate. The 68% bar is sustainably sourced from Nicaraguan cacao beans, and has a bright, fruity flavor, and sultry molasses undertones that left me perplexed until I finally figured out what I was tasting. It’s definitely not your ordinary chocolate baking bar, and I knew it deserved something special. After an exhaustive search, I stumbled upon this Chocolate Bourbon Tart from Food & Wine and, given my penchant for boozy baking, it seemed like the perfect recipe.

Perhaps the recipe was doomed from the get-go. The crust failed in a stupendous manner, leaving me skeptical for the recipe’s success as a whole. The pastry dough was way too soft, making it almost impossible to roll and transfer to the tart pan (I ended up pressing it in instead). Then, the foil stuck to the crust during the par-bake (no mention of buttering, alas) and the crust rose in almost cookie-like pillows, spilling out over the edge of the tart pan.

It was not pretty. Or tasty.

French Broad Chocolate made in Asheville, NC

Luckily, the crust failed before I wasted any of my precious chocolate. So I simply started over with a different crust recipe (courtesy of the lovely Laura, who apparently knows her pastry better than Food & Wine). That crust worked perfectly.

With my crust cooling, I hesitantly moved on to the filling, crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t follow the same pattern as the crust.

I’ll tell you this: it’s not how I would have written a recipe. First of all? The sugar, which is supposed to dissolve into the hot bourbon without ever boiling, never really did. After about 10 minutes with sugar granules still visible I finally gave up and moved on and dumped the hot sugary booze into the bowl with my chocoalte. The chocolate, the beautiful bittersweet chocolate, seized up as soon as it began to melt and mix with the bourbon. It was one of those “WHAT HAVE I JUST DONE” moments, thinking of the 10 ounces of my precious chocolate that I had just wasted. I moved on nonetheless (if it’s ruined I may as well keep going, such was my skewed logic at the time), and luckily the filling came together once the eggs and butter were added.

The result? It’s good. Rich, decadent chocolate. Basically a brownie gussied-up in a chocolate crust. We enjoyed it, sure, devouring it with ice cream or whipped cream to cut the richness of the chocolate. But is it worthy of your best block of bittersweet chocolate? Probably not. I hate to say that about recipes but in this case, it’s the truth.

Oh, you can’t really taste the bourbon. Despite using a full 1/3 cup in the filling. That alone was disappointing. But hey, it was pretty, and decadent, and maybe a gussied up brownie sounds like your ideal dessert. So I figured I’d post it anyway.

Maybe in the future I need to save my good chocolate for tried and true recipes. Or use the cheap stuff to test a new recipe, and only when it’s proved itself in my kitchen is it deemed worthy of the good stuff.

Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart from

I scaled the original recipe down to fit my 9-inch tart pan (that high school Algebra class is actually paying off, go figure!) If you happen to have a 10 inch tart pan please refer to the original recipe (although I’d recommend finding an alternative crust).

If you had half a bar of beautiful artisan chocolate just waiting to be used, what would YOU make? I’m totally open to suggestions since this chocolate deserves SO much more.

Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Tart

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For Crust:

  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ounce (1/4 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 8 1/2 ounces (1 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour

For Filling:

  • 10 ounces bittersweet (60-70%) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 13 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature


  1. To prepare the crust, ccream butter in a stand mixer on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and salt and mix on low speed until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add sifted cocoa powder and mix until just incorporated. Add flour, a little bit at a time, until just combined. Knead a few times until dough comes together in a ball; flatten into a disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  Chill for 1 to 2 hours or until firm.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough from fridge and let sit for 5 minutes to soften slightly.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thick round, about 10 inches in diameter. Transfer the pastry to a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently ease the pastry into the pan, taking care not to stretch it. Run your rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim off excess gouh. Chill for 15 minutes or just until firm.
  4. Line the pastry with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 15 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and weights. Return the shell to the oven and bake for about about 10 minutes longer or until dry. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
  5. For the filling, place finely chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  6. In a small saucepan, heat the bourbon and sugar over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved; try not to let the mixture boil. Pour the warm bourbon mixture over the chocolate. Turn the mixer on and add the pieces of butter, a few pieces at a time, along with the eggs, and mix on medium speed until shiny and smooth.
  7. Pour filling into tart shell, taking care not to overfill (it should come to within 1/4-inch of the top of the shell, you may have some batter leftover). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is puffed and begins to crack. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. Cut into wedges with a sharp knife and serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Crust recipe from Blogging over Thyme. Filling adapted from Food & Wine.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. The crust did NOT come out as it should, it was grainy, crumbly, and there’s no way after the two different times I attempted it, would it roll out or even knead properly. That crust recipe as written has to be missing something. I’ve been making pie for years and never struggled with such a thing. This is more like a cookie crust than real pie dough.

  2. Flourless chocolate cake! 

  3. This sounds to die for and the photos are flawless! Pinning this for later! Anything with bourbon and/or chocolate is welcome in my kitchen!

  4. Yum yum yum! This looks fantastic. :)

  5. Came here via How Sweet It Is. (love her!) Anyway, I know exactly what you mean (about hoarding – which I do – and regretting using the *good* stuff in a recipe that just doesn’t come together). I have a suggestion – I recently found an older recipe for chocolate cream pie on Pinterest, oh my, it is decadent! I made it first with the *good* stuff from our own wonderful & local chocolate store. Next time I made it with regular stuff from the grocery store (no time to get to the next town :( ). Honestly, I liked the one with the good stuff better – it almost wasn’t even sweet, just very very rich. The chocolate flavor *shone* in this version. Hubby & dad liked the second (it was a little sweeter, not quite as rich tasting). The chocolate didn’t shine as much here, but then it was an inferior chocolate. ;) Anyway, I hope you get a chance to enjoy this recipe!

  6. Looks so incredibly rich and yummy!

  7. This looks so delicious! I would love it with some fresh berries!

  8. Thank you for your honest commentary!  I’m looking at the recipe and I see what you mean — it just doesn’t make sense.  (And of course 3/4 cup sugar won’t dissolve in 1/3 cup bourbon!  You’d have trouble making it dissolve in that much hot water, and sugar dissolves more easily in water than in alcohol.)  The problem, of course, is that now I’m sitting here thinking about how I’d do it differently.

    I’m thinking the bourbon problem could be the easiest to solve: using 2/3 cup bourbon and reducing it by half.  That should get you far more concentrated flavor without throwing proportions off.

    As for the rest of the recipe, I’m thinking that I might melt the chocolate in the microwave, alternate adding the butter and bourbon-sugar mixture in, let it cool just a bit and then temper in the eggs.  Unless there’s some magic to the way F&W did things, this seems a much more traditional method.  Of course, now I’m wanting to try it and see if my method and change would work!

  9. I understand where you’re coming from on hording the chocolate from French Broad. I looked at mine and looked at mine and finally broke into it, using just two bars to make chocolate chili and now can’t decide what to do next.

    This looks delicious though! :)

  10. What a yummy looking treat!

  11. Hmm maybe try a soufflé? Custard? A rich hot chocolate?

  12. This looks incredible. The last time I tried to make a chocolate cake of sorts my springform pan wasn’t fully snapped in place and BOOM! Chocolate all over my oven. Sigh…

  13. LOVE French Broad! Asheville is just an hour away so I pick up a big box of truffles every time I go. I’m obsessed with their Mexican chocolate drinks too. 

  14. With prized chocolate, I break off small bits and let them slowly melt in my mouth while I sip an excellent coffee. 

  15. I always end up hoarding my “good” food stuff, and then forget about it, and find it years later:(  this tart looks amazing, even if it caused a wee bit of trouble 

  16. This tart looks divine!  I’ve been wanting to try that chocolate crust recipe.

  17. A giant chocolate bar as a gift?  Those are the best of friends, does it get any better than that? haha

  18. oh my this sounds HEAVENLY!! Pinning this because I WILL make it soon!

  19. I want to smash this in my face so bad!! Holy heck!

  20. The last thing I need on my Pinterest board is another recipe for a rich, chocolate dessert, but I couldn’t resist! This looks too perfect and tasty. I have some pecan bourbon that would be perfect in this recipe, I just need to find a giant chocolate bar!

  21. You’ve created a beautiful, and I’m sure tasty brownie tart, so don’t think you’ve totally wasted your French Broad Chocolate Chef’s Bar! It is too bad that the bourbon flavor didn’t come through — have you ever tried making a bourbon-infused whipped cream? That might do the trick! P.S. I’m still deciding what to do with MY huge French Broad Chef’s Bar, too! Maybe truffles?

  22. You have my complete, undivided attention here!
    And, ugh, I hoard the good stuff too. Usually to my detriment.

  23. I’ve recently gotten addicted to adding bourbon to most of my desserts so i was excited to make this, until you mentioned that you couldn’t taste it. Of course, you could always serve it with bourbon whipped cream! 
    As for that chocolate, it would be so hard to decide. Maybe go simple and add some chopped to a simple cookie or ice cream base? Then you get to savor all those chunks of chocolate! 

  24. Oh my, this look so good!! x

  25. It sucks that this recipe didn’t come out as  you hoped. The picture is beautiful though.  I have had some real winners with Food and Wine but also some pretty big FAILS too.  Blah!

  26. Such a bummer when recipes don’t turn out! I hate feeling I wasted good ingredients too! But this sure looks pretty fantastic!

  27. I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one who has disasters in the kitchen! That seems to happen to me every time I attempt to make a dad blame pie crust. Every time I see your gorgeous pies with all of their beautiful lattice work I get so jealous. If I had a 10 lb block of chocolate I’d be putting it in everything I could possibly think of, but more times than not, I’d melt it down for avocado pudding/mousse because I frickin’ love the stuff. 

  28. Thank you for this honest post!

    “opting for decent but lesser-expensive chocolate and ingredients for my everyday baking” = this is so me!!

    And being willing to admit a certain dessert may not be quite worthy of one’s total best top shelf ingredients is bold but so appreciated! (and to save the good stuff for the tried and true, but as bloggers we don’t really remake things over and over, at least I don’t, so it’s hard to always know when to use stuff and when to hoard…I could have written this post!)

    And not really being able to taste the bourbon – what a shame but it looks pretty at least! Pinned :)

    Loved your story telling here!

  29. Hi! 
    Your baks look great! I was wondering can we substitute the bourbon in the bittersweet chocolate bourbon tart with something else?
    Thank you!

  30. Ooohhhh this looks absolutely fantastic! Also love your photography!

  31. I think gussied up brownie is understatement. This is mighty fine, girl. I hear you about saving the best waaaaaaaaaaay too long. My latest in doing that was some shelled hazelnuts, which are I love cooking with. Sigh.

  32. I love the “Linsday-sized” bar of chocolate line. Ha! Chocolate lovers for life! This tart looks incredible. Anything with chocolate and booze is a WIN for me! I’m going to be on the lookout for French Broad Chocolates now!

  33. I know just what you mean! I’m always hoarding that special item, never wanting to waste the spectacular olive oil / chocolate / heirloom tomatoes on a dish that less-than-spectacular. This looks amazing though. Bookmarking it to try soon! 

  34. I want a giant bar of chocolate… Oh the possibilities!

  35. I thought that I was the only one who got excited over good chocolate! ha!
    The tart still looks prettttttty delicious!!

  36. oh WOW…that looks amazing! would love to have a piece with my coffee now :)

  37. I would love to try this, it looks so good. My problem is I’m allergic to eggs,. Is there something I can substitute?

  38. Aww, thank you!!! So glad to hear the crust turned out, but that sucks about the filling :( Maybe this calls for a shot of bourbon to make up for it! ;) 

  39. Your writing and photography are captivating. Thank you for your honesty in posting this recipe and the fails. I agree that you should either use your best chocolate in a tried and true recipe, which may kick it up to that next level, or experiment with “grocery store” chocolate first. I am now interested in looking at the original recipe also. Too bad you couldn’t taste the bourbon….that would have been really a nice extra.

  40. I’m sorry you felt the chocolate was somewhat ‘wasted’ in this recipe. I tend to save up my good chocolates for the perfect recipe, and then never know what recipes deem worthy of using it. For what it’s worth, the tart looks gorgeous and rich. 

    As for the pressing question of what to use the remaining chocolate with, the best chocolate ice cream I’ve made is when I’ve splurged in high quality chocolate in making homemade ice cream. Or what about a pudding? Sometimes the simplest recipes are where the ingredients really shine. 

    I’ve been to Asheville several times, but have never heard of this place. It really makes me want to go back to try a chocolate.. And a biscuit from Tupelo Honey Cafe! 

  41. This recipe does look good, although it is too bad that you can’t taste the bourbon… oh well.  I usually save my best chocolates for things like chocolate mousse since I feel that’s where you really taste it the most!

  42. I know what you mean about guarding precious chocolate with your life! I’m sorry this was such a nightmare, but it still looks like an ideal bite for my chocolate-loving heart. I’ll take a slice with a shot of bourbon on the side for the extra oomph :)

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