I had this vision.
What if I layered my world-famous chocolate-truffle sauce over a rich and buttery hazelnut crust, then smeared on an extra chocolate glaze, followed by a blanket of darkly roasted chunks of hazelnut? How would that turn out?
Well, the answer came at the end of a very long day. And even though by the time I finished making this masterpiece, it was 11 p.m. on a weeknight, my husband and I dove in. "Wowie!" we said.
Sure, there would be some tweaking involved with the construction concept. My first run-through involved an 8-inch, square pan because I thought I was aiming for a bar-cookie sort of creation. Negotiating those servings out of the pan turned out to be too messy, but boy, could I tell this baby had promise.
Ultimately, it came down to the use of a springform pan, which made cutting far more graceful — if you're into elegance, like at a dinner party or something. Of course, if you're strictly gunning for the incredible taste experience it provides (Damn the mess, full speed ahead!) and don't have access to a springform pan (that's a two-piece arrangement involving a round pan with removable sides), then by all means, stick with the 8-inch, square pan and just hack away at this awesome confection.
When it came time to serve my tart, I asked myself what sort of beverage would be perfect. I decided there are so many choices that it's fairly impossible to go wrong. For instance, with such a rich, chocolatey confection, Grand Marnier always is a winner because the orange essence within this heavenly liqueur really sings in tune with the chocolate.
But a tawny-style port is a lovely sidekick, as well. Two Oregon favorites are Eola Hills LBV cabernet sauvignon port-style wine and David Hill's pinot noir port.
There's also Abacela's port, which is another special offering. Made in Southern Oregon from five Portuguese grape varieties grown on Abacela's property specifically to produce estate port, it's a fruity, ruby-style with an extra level of richness that makes it thrive in a chocolate environment.
Of course, because of the flavor bridge of hazelnuts in the crust, this dessert gets along very fine with a big, full-bodied Oregon pinot noir.
Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of "Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit" and four other cookbooks. Readers obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.