There are few things I distrust as completely as a person who professes an indifference towards chocolate. If you don’t share my passion for this incredible substance there can only be one of two explanations – either you have never tasted proper chocolate and have been subjected to commercial reproductions that feature more vegetable oil than actual cacao, or you have simply managed to misplace your soul.

by Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen & Anna-bet stemmet

Of those who share my passion for chocolate, I have to give a special tip of the hat to author J.K Rowling who reveres the stuff so much that she gave it actual magical properties in her extremely popular Harry Potter series. In her magical universe it can be used as an antidote for the lingering depression and malaise that follows exposure to the soul-sucking beings known as Dementors – the eerie, undead guards of the wizard prison of Azkaban.

I’m sure a lot of people will agree that these magical properties extend into the real world as well! To celebrate all things chocolate (and to give you a little taste of what you can expect from my new recipe book) I’ve decided to share my prized recipe for a chocolate & cassis tart that is featured in the Patisserie section of JAN-A Breath of French Air.

This tart has been known to make grown men weep with ambrosial pleasure, so do be careful how and when you serve it…


The cassis berries can be substituted with blackberries or mulberries. When soaked in the cassis, the liquor of the South of France, it adds a tangy but sweet, deep flavour.

  • Makes: 2 medium tarts
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Preparation time: 2 hours
  • Cooking time: 1 hour


For the Sweet Pastry

  • 125 g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 500 g all-purpose flour, plus extra
  • 30 ml baking powder
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 125 g icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped out
  • 1 large egg

For the Chocolate Filling

  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • 50 g butter
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 200 ml fresh cream
  • 5 ml salt 
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds removed

For the Cassis Berries

  • 450 g cassis or blackberries
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 80 ml crème de cassis
  • 80 ml water
  • 10 ml lemon zest




    1. Blend the butter, flour, baking powder, salt and icing sugar in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
    2. Add the vanilla seeds and mix again quickly.
    3. Add the egg to the mixture and gently work it together using your hands until you have a ball of dough. Don’t overwork the pastry.
    4. Sprinkle a little flour over the dough and pat the ball into a flat round about 2.5 cm thick. Sprinkle over a little more flour then wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
    5. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Use a loose-bottomed tart tin and, using a splash of vegetable oil on a piece of paper towel, lightly oil the inside.
    6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until it is about 6 mm thick.
    7. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry and place it into the tart tin. Gently press the pastry onto all the sides and trim off the excess. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. 
    8. Remove the tart shell from the freezer and place a large piece of greaseproof paper inside. Fill with raw rice or dried beans. Bake blind for 10 minutes, then remove the beans and bake a second time until lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool.


      1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or on a medium setting in the microwave. Stir regularly to prevent the chocolate from burning. Allow to stand for 10 minutes to thicken.
      2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the sugar, cream, salt, eggs and vanilla seeds until smooth.
      3. Add the chocolate and butter mixture and mix well.
      4. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake at 180 °C for 15 to 20 minutes – it should still be slightly wobbly.
      5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tart tin.


        1. Wash the berries and place half in a small saucepan with the sugar, crème de cassis, water and lemon zest.
        2. Simmer until it forms a syrup.
        3. Just before serving, mix in the remaining berries and give it a good stir.
        4. Let sit for 10 minutes before spooning on top of the chocolate tart.

        Originally published 10 March 2016