On a whim, I entered the My Best Ghiradelli Chocolate Dessert Contest at our County Fair.
Last night I made a chocolate ganache tart, put it in the refrigerator, made whipped cream this morning and then put the whipped cream, fruit and mint on top of the tart in the fair parking lot.
We bought tickets to the fair and then wandered around for awhile until we found the Beer Tent, the site of the contest.
I checked my tart in, gave them a copy of my recipe and the label from the Ghiradelli chocolate chips I used -- to prove I'd actually used a Ghiradelli product.
And then we waited.
There were three judges. One owns a candy company, one is the food editor for one of the Chicago newspapers and is also a professional pastry chef, and the third was the winner of this competition last year.
They took an hour to methodically review recipes and taste desserts while a woman on a microphone told us, in excruciating detail, every possible thing she could think of about the fair so we couldn't hear what the judges were saying. I've honestly never heard anyone talk for 60 straight minutes about nothing in particular. She had to be completely exhausted.
They finally announced the winners and -- drum roll please -- I won first place! I jumped up when the called my name like I'd just won the lottery. I received a snazzy Ghiradelli apron, a basket of Ghiradelli chocolate, $150 and a big ol' blue ribbon!
(Michal and I are looking into the sun hence the squinty-eyed looks on our faces.)
Eric described it as the quintessential Midwest moment.
I couldn't agree more.
And just in case you'd like to make a "prize-winning" chocolate ganache tart of your own, here's the recipe.
It really is so good!
Chocolate Ganache Tart with Pecan Crust
3 cups pecans
1 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons of melted butter, cooled
Run nuts with sugar through a food processor until coarse like sand, stream in melted butter with motor still going, until moistened. Press firmly into an 11-inch tart pan and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly toasted. Be careful to not over bake the crust.
Once the crust has cooled completely, make the ganache.
16 ounces of Ghiradelli Bittersweet Premium Baking Chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
Heat the cream in a double boiler over medium heat. Don't let it boil. Add the chocolate and stir gently until mixture is thick and the chocolate is melted. As soon as the chocolate is combined with the cream, remove from the heat and pour into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least two hours. (May be refrigerated longer.) Remove from refrigerator and carefully remove the tart from the pan. Allow to soften slightly before serving.
Best served with lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream. Garnish with berries and mint if desired.