To me, keeping life simple is important. That’s why it’s been interesting to watch my neighbors make their lives extremely complex. Over the past two years, I’ve watched them tear down a solid, respectable house and replace it with a nearly 10,000 square foot monstrosity that fits neither the neighborhood nor the land it occupies. Once completed, they proceeded to fill their 4 garages with BMWs and SUVs, outfit the yard with a humongous outdoor kitchen and build an enormous play house for their only child.
Driving past their house at night, we’re able to see straight into the window. There, affixed to their wall, is a giant sign paying homage to Henry David Thoreau’s immortal words: “Simplify…Simplify.” I’m not kidding.
Recently I heard a news commentator ask Warren Buffet, one of the worlds wealthiest men (net worth 62 billion dollars), why he still lives in the same house in Omaha he’s had since 1950, why he still drives himself to work in his regular car and why he gives 85% of his salary to charity. His response: “because I’m happy with what I have. I love my wife. I’m healthy. My car runs well. I could have yachts, but they would require a crew and maintaining them would be stressful. I could have a fleet of cars. But would I be happier? I don’t think so.”
I don’t know anyone from any culture who doesn’t like nice things but is there a point at which it becomes too much? Is bigger better? What do you think? I’m genuinely curious to hear your take on this subject.
It’s in the spirit of simplicity that I baked this chocolate tart. Pure, simple, fudgey goodness.
4 egg yolks
55 g. caster sugar ( or put regular sugar in a blender and turn it on for 30 seconds)
85 g. creme fraiche
330 g. melted dark chocolate, cooled slightly.
1 tsp. vanilla
cocoa powder for dusting
Whisk together egg yolks, eggs and sugar, about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Incorporate the creme fraiche and the vanilla. Temper in the melted chocolate.
185 g. flour
25 g. cocoa powder
55 g. icing sugar
150 g. cold butter cut into pieces
2 egg yolks
1 tsp of ice water
Add flour, the cocoa and the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend on low. Blend in the butter until small pieces form then add the egg yolks and water. Beat on medium until the mixture comes together. When it is smooth and supple, flatten, wrap in plastic and place in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 355 degrees (180 Celsius). Butter a tart pan and either roll out or press the dough into the pan. Cut the edges and refrigerate 30 minutes. Add pie weights. Pre-bake for 10 minutes.
Lower the thermostat to 320 degrees (160 Celsius). Add chocolate filling. Bake for 20- 30 minutes or just until the top sets. If you allow it to completely puff up it will get dry and crumbly. Do not overbake. Sprinkle with sifted cocoa powder. Store in refrigerator and serve and room temperature.
Finally, you may be wondering, what happened to the neighbors. In short, they can no longer afford the house, they can’t sell it and they’re trying unsuccessfully to rent it out for colossal sum of money.
Wishing you a wonderful, simple and meaningful holiday!