While most chocolate in the 18th century was consumed as a drink (and most often for breakfast), it began to show up in a few period dessert recipes as well. Chocolate’s introduction to the dessert table was fairly subtle. It wasn’t until after the Industrial Revolution of the mid 19th century, when the chocolate manufacturing process was mechanized, that chocolate would eventually take the final course by storm.
One early 18th century chocolate dessert recipe can be found in the 1737 book, The Whole Duty of a Woman.
This recipe likely served as inspiration for later versions, including the one found in Hannah Glasse’s 1800 cookbook, The Complete Confectioner, (edited by Maria Wilson):
A few other old chocolate tart recipes exist. Some use wheat flour instead of rice flour. I believe rice flour was used in these particular recipes, not for structure necessarily as it would in bread, but rather as a thickening agent. While the chocolate tart pictured above looks very much like a modern brownie, its internal texture was quite different. Unlike the “bready” or gooey structure of a brownie, this tart is firm yet silky smooth.
Rice flour was used in many 18th century recipes. If you don’t have any in your cupboard, you may be able to find it in your local grocery store under the brand label “Bob’s Red Mill” or you can order it online here.
Recently, the Mars corporation introduced a line of authentic 18th century chocolate products. These products are available on our website. The folks at Mars adjusted Glasse’s recipe for the modern kitchen. We made a video.
A Chocolate Tart
1 T Rice Flour
5 med egg yolks or 4 large
1T whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
5 oz chocolate, grated
1 prepared pastry shell
pinch of salt
Combine the salt, egg yolks, rice flour, and milk in a bowl and set aside.
Combine the cream and chocolate in a pan and gently bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the sugar until both the sugar and the chocolate are completely melted.
Take ¼ c of the warm mixture and add to the egg yolks, stirring continuously to prevent scrambling.
Stir the warmed egg mixture into the saucepan and bring all the ingredients to a boil for about a minute. Set aside and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 350-degrees (F). Pour mixture into a pie shell and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until set. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight (it is absolutely best if you allow it to set overnight).
To finish this recipe in an authentic 18th century fashion, sprinkle the top of the tart with sugar and toast it carefully with a hot iron salamander or ember shovel. If you don’t have a salamander, you can use the overhead broiler in your oven — just be very careful to avoid burning the tart. A kitchen torch, like one used for Crème brûlée, will work as well.
This recipe happens to work perfectly with our handmade 8″ tart tin.