On Saturday I added another tally mark to my age – another year older and hopefully with a dusting of more wisdom. Amidst the birthday cards, text messages and celebrations, my mind continued to wander back to how grateful I was for the last year of life and the opportunity to add another year to my age. While society screams that I should stay youthful and look forever twenty-one, I am slowly gaining appreciation for the beauty that comes with each year of life. With each day I age, I feel a little more settled with myself; a comfort in knowing myself well. The many quirks I loathed when I was younger, I’ve come to embrace with open arms. I’ve learned to appreciate the freckles that overwhelm my face and arms dismissing the thought that beauty only comes in one standard mold. My sensitive heart is no longer something to hide as it has given me opportunities to love others deeper. And I have fully embraced the nerdy side of me – that I love politics, intricate brain science, discussing big ideas rather than the weather.
The many life questions that hang over my head don’t taunt me the way they once did. I know that as soon I pull one down marking it off as solved, five more will pop up there. The surety of having the right answer for every question has faded because I am even more confident that things are rarely black and white. I am willing to risk looking stupid by asking a lot of questions if it means I gain a deeper understanding of the situation at hand.
I am beginning to understand the importance of surrounding myself with people that inspire and motivate me to dream and love bigger. Finding friends that have you rolling on the floor with laughter has topped my list of important qualities in another human.
As I have aged, my eyes have been pried open to the brokenness of our world and the cruelness that lies just outside our doors. But they have also been opened to abounding beauty and goodness that often causes me to tear up. I am understanding that when you love without hesitation, you open yourself up to be unbearable hurt but you also allow yourself understand love in depths never imagined.
Even though I have had the first gray hairs begin to pop up (already!), I hope that I will continue to value the wisdom, confidence and grace that comes with living each year with open eyes and a full heart. As wrinkles begin to multiply on my face and my body begins to show the many years of life, I hope that I continue to hold fast to the notion that beauty only multiplies as you age.
I love a well crafted cake but what makes me swoon is chocolate. I requested this tart as an alternative to birthday cake this year. The layers of dark chocolate shine with the slightly salty chocolate crust. Pistachios are embedded in every part of this dessert, making it nearly the perfect dessert in my eyes.
Dark Chocolate Pistachio Tart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweeetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), chopped into small cubes
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of canola or safflower oil
5 ounces of dark chocolate (60-70%)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Finely chopped pistachios (for garnish)
Butter and coat with cocoa a 9 inch tart pan. Tap out the extra cocoa powder. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter until fluffy. Add in the sugar and mix until pale. Add in the vanilla. Mix well. Add in the flour mixture until stir until a dough forms. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Roll out the crust and place in a tart pan. Place tart in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the crust until firm.
While the crust is baking, add the 1/2 cup of pistachios, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt to a food processor. Finely grind the mixture. Add in the oil and pulse until it forms a thick paste. Once the crust has cooked and cooled, spread the paste evenly over the bottom.
Finely chop the chocolate and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and milk almost to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate, until smooth. Let the mixture cool until barely warm, 10-15 minutes. Whisk in the egg and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan and cook on 300 degrees until the middle is set, approximately 30 minutes. Let it cool completely before serving. Garnish with finely chopped pistachios. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.