It’s so insanely chocolatey, I suggest you help yourself to just a small slice.

Nigella Lawson was on late night TV and I was having a case of insomnia brought about by that last cup of Nespresso I just had to have after dinner.  This tart stood out because it was so beautiful. It looked like chocolate madness -a round of satin dark chocolate sitting on an even darker base.  It warrant a closer look.  I sat up on the bed and shimmied by pyjamaed bottom closer to the google box. Oh yes, the tart looked even better up close. The wonders of high resolution TV.  There and then I decided I had to make this tart and that says a lot because I am not a chocoholic by any stretch. Instead, I would call myself a selective chocolate eater. The only chocolate praline I would eat are the Belgian, Leonidas and then again I am very particular and will only eat the gold foil wrapped Gianduja.  Leonidas describes them as “delicate and full of chocolate and hazelnut flavour” and how right they are.  Is it no wonder that “it has been a Leonidas’ signature piece for decades”. I digress. Back to the tart.

For her chocolate tart base, Ms Lawson uses a bag of Oreos which I am not keen on.  I much prefer the Italian bag of chocolate biscuits, Pan di Stelle. Have you tried them?  They are awesome.  You know how good Nutella is?  You do know Nutella is a mix of chocolate and hazelnuts don’t you?  The Italians got their bag of chocolate cookies right too! And like Nutella, these cookies have hazelnuts in them.  Imagine Nutella cookies. Pan di Stelle might be the closest ‘Nutella-tasting cookie’ that is available off supermarket shelves. Nothing beats home baked full-on chocolate cookies but Pan di Stelle biscuits are perfect for my tart base. Unlike Oreos, there are no cream centres, just plain Nutella-tasting chocolate cookies. The Pan di Stelle biscuits make such a chocolatey base, I am already thinking of rolling them into truffle balls to be then covered in melted Valrhona chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder.

With regard to the chocolate filling, I learnt something new from the domestic goddess -eggs are redundant, at least for the filling.  Corn flour can set the chocolate filling so nicely you could slice through the tart and the slice will keep its shape as long as you have the ratio of ingredients right  Nigella reaches for double cream to make her chocolate filling.  It’s so much easier for me to use a can of evaporated milk and I even use up the entire can so there is no leftover or wastage to deal with.  If you are wondering if using that interferes with the taste of the chocolate, the answer is no, not at all.  The 70% bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder are the only flavours that will hit your tastebuds.  I always use French brand, Valrhona here for the best chocolate flavour.

Other benefits of evaporated milk over double cream?  Cost and a longer shelf life!  Should I get caught up with work, I can postpone tart making almost indefinitely whereas those double cream have a relatively short shelf life. The last thing I need is to worry over how I must use the double cream before it expires. Thanks to my late night cup of Nespresso and Nigella, I have a Nigella-inspired no-bake crazily intense chocolate tart that the die-hard chocoholics I have fed it, as rich as it is, can’t get enough of.  

No-bake Intensely Chocolate Tart

Prep: 25 minutes 
Cook: 10 minutes
Inactive: ~12 hours to overnight in refrigerator
Level: Moderately easy
Makes: 9″  or 10″  (22.8 cm or 25.4 cm) tart
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? No
Make ahead? 3 days ahead


Tart base
(12.34oz) (350g) bag of Pan di Stelle OR similar chocolatey/hazelnut tasting chocolate biscuits/cookies*
(2.11oz)(60g) unsalted butter
(2.11oz)(60g) 70% bittersweet  chocolate
1/4 teaspoon smoked salt*
3 and 1/2 Tablespoons from 1 can (13.35oz) (395ml) evaporated milk (remaining to be used in tart filling)**
Tart filling
(3.52oz)(100g) 70% bittersweet chocolate*** 
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
Remaining volume of evaporated milk leftover from making tart base
4 Tablespoons (~1.58oz)(~45g) brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon smoked salt*
4 Tablespoons (~1.26oz)(~36g) cornflour
*Pan di Stelle are Italian crisp chocolate biscuits/cookies made with cocoa and hazelnuts. I bought my bag from a better stocked supermarket. If you choose to substitute with Oreos, you need 12.34oz (350g) in weight without the cream centers as we don’t use the cream centres.
** Remove  ~3 and 1/2 Tablespoons or so of this to bind the biscuit base. Whatever is left in the can you would be using for the tart filling. NOTE: Cans of evaporated milk come in varying volumes. So please ensure you use the volume indicated in this recipe. Should you have any excess evaporated milk, scroll down to ‘Tips‘ to find out how you can use those up.
*** I use Valrhona. I have used their 60% too and it works just as well.
Ordinary salt works just as well but I happen to have smoked salt.


Melt unsalted butter and chocolate

1. It is easiest to do this in a microwave in progressive bursts of 20 – 30 seconds of power until it is 3/4 melted. Stirring and checking each time.
2. Add the salt, let the butter and chocolate complete dissolve in the residual heat. If you overheat the chocolate, it will congeal and you cannot salvage it.

1. Fill a saucepan with ~ 1.5″ (3.81cm)  of water. Fit a heatproof bowl over the saucepan. The bottom of the saucepan should not touch the water.
2. Add the butter and chocolate into the heatproof bowl, turn on heat to medium. When the butter and chocolate is 3/4 melted, add the salt, turn off the heat and let the mix continue to melt in the residual heat.

Assembling the tart base
1. Crush the biscuits into a powder with a rolling pin but it is easiest to use a food processor.
2. If you are using Pan Di Stelle, Mix 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons of evaporated milk into the melted butter and chocolate. Stir that into the crushed biscuits. It should look and feel like a drier version of wet sand. Refer to the picture below. Add more evaporated milk if you think it is necessary but 3.5 Tablespoons has always worked for me.
3. If you are using Oreos, remember to remove the cream centres. Mix 2 and 1/2 to 3 Tablespoons of evaporated milk into the melted butter and chocolate. Stir that into the crushed biscuits. It should look and feel like a drier version of wet sand. Refer to the picture below. Add more evaporated milk if you think it is necessary but 3.5 Tablespoons has always worked for me.

4. Press the mix into the tart pan. The ends of my rolling pin has a flat base so I use that to pack crumbs down. Pack it in tightly. Set the tart on a flat tray for stability and leave to set for at least 4 – 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Cover loosely with aluminium foil.

Tart filling
1. Mix 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons evaporated milk with 4 Tablespoons corn flour. Alternatively, use 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons milk instead for a softer set custard. Then, just incorporate the 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons evaporated milk you would have otherwise used with the rest of the tart filling (step 2 below).
2. In a saucepan, add the remaining evaporated milk, bittersweet chocolate, instant coffee powder, brown sugar and smoked salt. Heat over medium heat and whisk to dissolve.

3. When the chocolate has been dissolved, sift in cocoa powder and continue to whisk to incorporate. If you think the chocolate mixture is heating up too much, either reduce the temperature of the burner or remove the pot from the stove and whisk the mixture away from the burner. Then, return pot back to the burner. In fact, I move my pot back and forth from the burner quite often to prevent anything burning.
4. Once the cocoa powder has been well incorporated (and do not let the chocolate mixture boil at any time), give your corn flour and evaporated milk slurry a good mix before adding it in a steady stream whilst whisking it in with whisk in your other hand.
5. Once the corn flour is added, you have to whisk continuously so that the mixture can thicken evenly. If it doesn’t seem to be thickening fast enough, increase the temperature a little. Remember, if the mixture starts to thicken too fast for you to control, remove from the burner and whisk away and return it back to the burner.  The mixture needs to thicken up to a consistency similar to an American pancake batter -perhaps a little less thick. Another example, it has to be a little thicker than the consistency of double/thickened/heavy cream.
6. Transfer into a cereal bowl and cover with a plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the thickened chocolate to avoid it forming a skin. Do not leave it in the pot. It might burn. Do not cool the chocolate completely, instead just wait for ~10 minutes. The chocolate should be still hot-warm when you pour it into the tart base. Your finger should not ‘burn’ when you touch the chocolate mix.

Time to pour chocolate into prepared base tart
1. When the chocolate is no longer piping hot (between hot to warm), pour it into the prepared tart base. NOTE: You can’t pour the thickened chocolate in whilst it is still hot or the tart might start to disintegrate. Leave it too long to cool and the chocolate mixed would have set.
2. Cover loosely with aluminium foil. Refrigerate immediately and wait at least 8 hours before serving. It’s best to leave it overnight.
3. This tart is intensely chocolatey and rich. I suggest you be modest with serving slices. Do not let the tart sit indefinitely outside of the refrigerator, as it will start to soften.


Should you have any leftover evaporated milk, here are some ways to use them up

(1) Very mango-tasting and an easy recipe using just 5 ingredients, my Dim Sum Mango Pudding.

(2) Then there is my Mexican Inspired Lime and Lemongrass Infused Caramel Flan. It’s rich and satisfying like how a good caramel flan should taste but I have cut the cloying richness with a little lime and lemongrass.

(3) Evaporated milk makes a Quick Mac And Cheese that is never chalky tasting.

(4) If you only have a little evaporated milk left, it would be just the right amount for the following: The ultimate icy chocolate drink, Milo Dinosaur!

(5) and Masala Tea or Chai Tea, milky Indian tea flavoured with freshly cracked cardamon pods and a touch of cloves.