While the rest of us are taking a break from work to ring in the holidays, chefs can usually be found working overtime.
But since Laura Comer took the helm as executive chef at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, she’s been able to spend New Year’s Eve with her sons Donovan, 15, and Ronan, 8.
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For the past two years, Comer has hosted a cozy pajama party for her boys featuring an hors d’oeuvre-heavy dinner followed by watching vintage black-and-white holiday movies together. They end the night with the traditional ball drop in Times Square, toast the New Year (grape juice for the young ones!) and enjoy a special Chocolate Champagne Raspberry Tart for dessert.
“Both kids are chocoholics,” says Comer, whose festive tart appears on the Kauffman Center’s catering menu year-round.
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate, you can make the tart at home, or try Comer’s luxurious yet affordable three-course prix fixe dinner for $37, available before most performances.
Chef’s recipe note: Couverture, a professional quality chocolate coating, is available at most grocery stores. Get sugar pearl “bubbles” in the cake decorating aisle of a craft store.
CHOCOLATE CHAMPAGNE RASPBERRY TART
MAKES 1 (10-inch) TART
1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup raspberry jam
8 ounces heavy cream
8 ounces brut sparkling wine or champagne
12 ounces milk chocolate couverture (no substituting chocolate chips!)
4 ounces dark chocolate couverture (65%)*
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Garnish: Fresh raspberries, powdered sugar or sugar pearls* in white and gold
For the tart dough: Sift together cocoa powder, powdered sugar, flour, and salt.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter, then slowly add the dry mixture in three batches, until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix in. Wrap and chill dough for 30 minutes.
To shape: Dust counter with flour and roll dough 1/8-inch thick. Gently wrap dough around rolling pin and lay over a 10-inch tart pan loosely. Press dough to sides of pan; let excess fall over the edge. Roll rolling pin once over the top of the tart shell to cut the excess off. Chill for another 30 minutes.
To bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line shell with foil or plastic wrap and fill shell with pie weights (dry beans work well); bake for 15 minutes or until dough is completely set. Remove from tart pan and cool completely. Spread jam evenly in bottom of tart shell and set aside.
For ganache: Place both chocolates in a medium bowl. In a saucepan, combine heavy cream and champagne. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit five minutes to melt, then stir until completely combined and smooth. Pour over raspberry jam and set in refrigerator to chill, at least two hours.
For whipped cream: In a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, combine all ingredients and whip to stiff peaks. Garnish with whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and a dusting of powdered sugar or sugar pearls.
Cheers to Affordable Luxury
Champagne is often uttered in the same sentence as caviar, which may explain why it has such an over-the-top reputation.
“One of my favorite things ever is Champagne, because it usually denotes a special occasion,” says Laura Comer, executive chef of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association’s Chef of the Year.
A good Champagne (with a capital C, from the Champagne region of France) doesn’t have to break the bank. Comer will usher in 2019 with a flute of dry French Champagne in the $50 price range. Her choice for cooking and baking is typically a $10 bottle of dry “brut” (pronounced BROOT) sparkling wine. “Something good, but not expensive,” she says.
And there’s no need to worry about overindulging in Champagne with her luxurious chocolate ganache tart; the alcohol evaporates during cooking.
Comer offers this simple tip to avoid losing any bubbly when uncorking the bottle: “Keep your hand over the cork and gently twist the bottle with the other.”