Chocolate tarts tend to be dark, decadent and as rich as Croesus. For something sweeter and more delicate, a milk chocolate custard is the way to go, but the risk is to veer towards cloying. The reason this recipe works is that nutmeg’s fragrant astringency both cuts the sweetness and enhances the choc. Be generous with it.

SERVES: 8-10


For the nutmeg pastry:
170g (6oz) plain flour
45g (1/2oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon grated nutmeg Pinch of fine sea salt
85g (3oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 tablespoon ice cold water 1 egg, beaten

For the milk chocolate filling:
350g (12oz) best milk chocolate, at least 30%
50g (1%oz) best dark chocolate, at least 70%
100ml (scant 1⁄2 cup) whole milk 300ml (1/4 cups) double (heavy) cream
3 eggs Pinch of fine sea salt Nutmeg, for grating


First make the pastry. Combine the flour, icing sugar, nutmeg, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse the mixture to crumbs. Add the water and half of the beaten egg and pulse again just until the pastry starts to clump together. Tum the pastry out onto a work surface and form into a flat disc, working it as little as possible. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour (or overnight). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a circle about 2mm (1/16 inch) thick. Use it to line a 23cm (8 inch) loose-bottomed tart tin with high sides. Tuck it into the edges and leave an overhang of pastry. Put in the freezer to chill briefly. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan (350°F). Put a baking sheet in the oven. Line the tart case with tin foil, shiny side up, and weigh down with baking beans. Blind bake for 25 minutes then remove the foil and trim the overhang. Brush the remaining egg over the pastry and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Whilst the pastry is baking, make the filling. Break the chocolates into pieces and put in a heatproof bowl. Bring the milk and cream to a simmer, then pour over the chocolate and stir to melt. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then beat in the eggs and salt. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug. When the pastry is golden, tum down the oven to 140°C/120°C fan (275°F). Pull out the oven rack with the tart case on it and pour the mixture into the shell. Sprinkle the grated nutmeg liberally over the top then put back into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. The chocolate custard should be set with a slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool fully before removing from the tin. Add a final flourish of nutmeg before serving.

Spice switch:
Cinnamon and milk chocolate are lovely together, but it is a combination to be reserved for those with a sweet tooth as it will amplify rather than temper the sweetness. Or use exclusively dark chocolate (400g/14oz).

Images and text from A Whisper of Cardamom by Eleanor Ford, photography by Ola O. Smit. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.”