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This year, I decided to bake myself a birthday dessert. I wanted something simple to make, decadent, and filled with chocolate. I turned to Giada De Laurentiis recipe for Chocolate-Pistachio Fudge Tart and made a few changes to make it my own.


As I’ve been obsessing about Oregon hazelnuts from Trader Joe’s, I decided to replace pistachios with roasted hazelnuts. I also replaced the heavy cream with half & half to lighten up the texture and the calorie load. I was at first worried that using half&half would not set up the chocolate filling, but it worked just fine. As the chocolate was melting into the hot half&half, I added a few extra ounces of chocolate, to make the filling thicker.

The tart came out just right. A balance between the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate filling and the crunchy, slightly salty nut and graham cracker crust. The topping of dried apricots is optional. I liked the golden, slightly sour bursts of fruit. I can also see how this same recipe would work well with fresh raspberries or strawberries. Happy birthday to me!


Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart with Apricots


1 1/2 cups roasted hazelnuts
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 whole graham crackers
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups half&half
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan or springform pan with butter.
  2. Pulse hazelnuts in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add the graham crackers and pulse until finely chopped. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse until incorporated. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and lightly press the crust into the pan; cool completely.
  3. Heat half&half, vanilla extract, and salt until just beginning to simmer. Pour over the chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk together until smooth and pour into the crust. Refrigerate until set, then sprinkle with chopped apricots and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.