Today I’m going to share with you what may be one of my weirder frugal habits.
When I have baked goods sitting around that are starting to lose their allure, I don’t throw them away. Instead, I put them in my food processor and grind them up into crumbs. Then I freeze the crumbs.
I also don’t bother to distinguish between the crumbs. The kinds of thing that are likely to get ground up are all sort of variants of the same thing, points along the chocolate chip cookie/congo bar/blondie/brownie continuum. Since they all have more or less the same ingredients, I cavalierly assume they all taste good together, and freeze all the crumbs in the same bag.
That way I’ve got them handy to make stuff like this without advance notice or planning. And they do make the crust taste better than one made with store-bought cookies, though I say it myself - particularly if you’ve browned the butter beforehand.
In researching how to make this tart, I discovered that there are two ways of getting a crumb crust to firm up: cooking it briefly, or refrigerating it. Since all the crust ingredients had already been cooked once, and the filling needs to be chilled, I opted for refrigeration. As a bonus, this is a great do-ahead dessert.
8 oz/240 g cookie or baked-good crumb of your choice
4 oz/120 g butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
Grease the inside of a cake or tart pan* (preferably one with a loose bottom) generously and set aside.
Mix the butter into the crumbs gradually; you might not need all of it, depending upon how dry or wet the crumbs are to start with. You are looking to achieve a thick, lumpy but malleable mass, somewhat like wet sand.
When the crust mix has reached the right consistency, spread evenly in the bottoms and up the sides of the prepared pan, to a thickness of about ½ inch/1 cm. Place in the refrigeration to chill for 20-30 minutes while you get on with the filling.
Chocolate ganache filling
8 oz/240 ml cream
8 oz/240 g bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and pour in chocolate. Leave mixture to sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk until cream and chocolate have combined into a thick, shiny, pourable liquid. Whisk in remaining ingredients and allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Remove prepared crust from refrigerator and pour in ganache. Tap and tilt the pan to make sure the ganache fills the crust evenly and smoothly, then return pan to refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour.
Remove tart from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before serving to take some of the chill off.
* I used an 8 in/20 cm loose-bottom cake pan for this recipe. If yours is much bigger, the filling may be too thin.