Orange Chocolate Tart

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Oh, baby. Last week I was an emotional and professional doozy. Without getting into specifics, I can honestly say that I have never felt more tested to dig deep, set my ego on the shelf, and be the person of (strength, character, restraint, kindness) I’d like to think I’ve been practicing for since I joined the human race on December 26, 1989.

On Wednesday the kitchen had no appeal whatsoever, so we headed out for dinner at a restaurant that was probably a bit indulgent for two kids in Nikes, bad hair, and puffy jackets but, it’s Colorado, and the rising full moon begged us to release a bit of hardness and practice self care.   On this night, care came in the form of fancy kohlrabi salad, grilled octopus, and two glasses of wine… all of which we probably couldn’t quite afford at the moment but felt so necessary to our existence that it didn’t even matter. At one point I looked at Shaun and said, I love this. “This” not being eating out, but the day, the moment, the fact that we were laughing and crying and so full and so empty all at the once. I started to well up with happy tears because of how ridiculously good everything felt (being alive, earning a right to sit across from each other at the table like this) despite the enormity of my exhaustion and general feelings of sweet-baby-jesus-this-life-business-ain’t-for the birds that hovered about.

As we age I imagine our daily struggles will wear different shoes, and the lessons we’re served will get harder and and somehow easier… but I also have to believe that in those future years we will look back on days like these and think: they were everything. These early days reaching and scraping and believing we can make something good of our lives are so brutal sometimes, but also so intensely rich. I can only hope that in ten, twenty, forty years we’ll be this resilient, this passionate. I can only hope we’ll be this feisty, foolish, and humbled in our smallness. I can only hope we’ll love how deeply we loved, how bad we royally fucked things up, how hard we tried, and how explicit we were in our search for opportunities to be better.

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”
Kurt Vonnegut

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Late Winter Chocolate and Orange Tart

A few disclaimers before you make a go of it. I’ll call this a “special occasion” recipe because it does take a bit longer than most of the recipes I share. Not that it should be reserved only for special occasions, but, you get what I mean. Also, for aesthetics, I did not remove the peel or pith of the oranges. Some people aren’t into the bitterness, so I’d suggest supreming or removing the rind of your fruit before dressing the tart.

The tart shell is the exact recipe from Yossy Arefi’s mascarpone tart last year, which she adapted from Dorie Greenspan. Please visit her site for the instructions. Ingredients listed below:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons cold, cubed butter
  • 1 egg yolk

Pastry Cream 

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses



  • 2 large blood oranges
  • 3 large cara cara oranges
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 1 bar high-quality dark chocolate


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For the tart shell preparation, see here. Set aside to cool while you prepare the pastry cream.

Warm the milk in a saucepan until it begins to steam, not boil. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add egg yolks. Whisking them together will create a crumbly-paste like mixture. This is totally normal. Pour warm milk from the saucepan into the bowl of egg-flour paste and store together. Once everything has combined, return mixture to the saucepan over medium heat. WHISK CONSISTENTLY. You will feel like you’re creating a ton of froth, but that’s okay, it will begin to thicken after a few minutes. Pause whisking after three minutes and see if it begins to boil, if so, remove from heat.

Stir vanilla into the cream and pour into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl in the sink. Push cream through the strainer to catch tiny bits of cooked egg. Place bowl in the fridge and let chill completely for 2 hours. To expedite the process, surround the bowl of cream in another bowl of ice. When the cream is cooled, stir in pomegranate molasses and lemon juice.

Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or water bath method. Spread melted chocolate over tart shell evenly. Pop in the fridge for 5 minutes. To prepare the oranges for garnish, hold the orange in your left or non-knife hand so that the navel is touching your thumb. Slice at your desired thickness, mine are about 1/4 inch. Retrieve tart shell with hardened chocolate from the fridge. Pour 3 cups of pastry cream into the center and spread as needed to cover. Arrange the oranges in concentric circles.

Happyolks | Orange Chocolate Tart Happyolks | Orange Chocolate Tart

  1. Pang

    I know what you mean. Life is precious, and simple moments usually are the ones that you love the most. I’m glad that some of us take the time to cherish them.

    Anyway, your pics are gorgeous, and I will be sure to try this recipe as well. :)


  2. Belinda@themoonblushbaker

    This is so pretty; the combination of blood orange and normal orange make this look like a giant flower. I actually could make this today if I had time; the ingredients are so humble but you have turned them into something amazing.


  3. Kristen

    This looks absolutely divine.


  4. Katie

    “As we age I imagine our daily struggles will wear different shoes…”

    Could not agree more. And at every stage, those struggles test our current vulnerabilities, which also continually change and challenge us. I try and take your lead- you seem to bring such honesty and humility to these things- it is inspiring! Also, to know that the whole world is going through “these” struggles, whatever they might be for each individual, is somewhat of a relief.


  5. Sini | my blue&white kitchen

    This tart is pure sunshine. A slice of this and I’m sure everything feels a little easier and just a bit lighter to bear. I sit here, in a dark room, and smile. Because of this tart as well as your beautiful words.


  6. molly yeh

    i am like sitting here, shaking my head, my jaw has dropped straight the floor, everything about this is gorgeous (i feel like i say that about all of your posts, i’m sorry if it’s getting repetitive!)

    i love your approach to life so much. it is so inspiring. i feel like during these dark winter months if ever i’m blue, i just need to ask myself… what would kelsey do?


  7. Stacy

    You know I am with you 100 percent. So full and so empty…that’s something I’ve surely felt more than ever before in these last couple years, and it’s a strange juxtaposition. But I really do think you’re right – this stuff, the intensity, the perseverance, the learning – it’s everything. I hope we never lose the feeling.

    Also: THIS TART. Crazy beautiful, lady.


  8. ileana

    Absolutely gorgeous!


  9. Joyti

    Such a beautiful post. Both the words and the images. I’ll probably end up reading it a dozen times, as I do with all of your posts. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing.


  10. Maryea {happy healthy mama}

    This is absolutely stunning. And yes, those days are everything.


  11. Katrina @ WVS

    This tart? My heart. LOVE!


  12. ashley | bloom & nourish

    your words get me. every. time.
    and that tart! looks amazing!


  13. Anita

    Beautiful tart and stunning pictures


  14. Ashley

    All I can say is that I so relate to the words in this post…especially, “These early days reaching and scraping and believing we can make something good of our lives are so brutal sometimes, but also so intensely rich.” I am right there with you. — This tart is absolutely beautiful.


  15. Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday

    Such a gorgeous tart! All of my favourite flavours together, and such beautiful and insightful words.


  16. sara forte

    what a gorgeous tart. I love all the rustic rind on there, bitterness or not. Big hugs to you, my friend. I felt so many of the exact things within this past week but am always unable to articulate them as well. So much, but so much goodness at the same time. “Intensely rich” is exactly it. So glad you two celebrated in the midst of it all. I respect you two a great deal.


  17. Erin

    My mouth is watering. The baby in my belly is kicking. I need this, right now:) I am pretty sure thoughts of this will keep me up at night. I am not kidding. It’s on my ‘must make soon’ list!


  18. Jade Sheldon-Burnsed

    Oh, girl, I more than relate to all those feelings you are experiencing. I was just telling my husband last night how hypocritical my feelings felt to me: all at once being so full of passion and so full of pointlessness. Life is strange and wonderful and tragic and beautiful.

    And, holy gorgeousness, these photographs. Citrus is just so captivating…


  19. Christine

    Oh my goodness gracious. I cannot believe how beautiful this post is. The writing alone is so vulnerable and real, and I truly admire you! Thank you for sharing this.


  20. sarah

    amazing post. i am in love with your writing and photography!


  21. sarah

    So lovely. Chocolate and orange is one of my most favorite combinations.
    And, sending much love to you. We are all striving for balance in this life! But some days there is just the bittersweet. At least it comes chocolate flavored. 😉


  22. Grace

    Absolutely stunning! Often it does feel that the life lessons get tougher but the learning gets easier.


  23. Kathryn

    Those moments of intense richness always seem to take me by surprise; they’ve never when I expect or plan them but they’re all the richer for that.


  24. thefolia

    You had me with the first photo! Bring on the special occasions…here’s to hoping. Happy Nesting.


  25. Juliette

    It must be delicious, but it looks absolutely amazing!


  26. shelly@ohshellsbells

    man oh man, do i know about the doozy times, i can’t wait for mine to be over. but ya know, those times of struggle will make a great story one day.


  27. Marta

    It looks so much better when citruses are not peeled. It looks amazing.


  28. Todd@HonestlyYUM

    no matter how hard i try to look away, i just keep staring….

    truly beautiful post!


  29. Emilie@TheCleverCarrot

    What a gorgeous tart! The colors are just stunning- I bet it was amazing 😉


  30. Sarah

    looks beautiful, but did you bake the oranges?


  31. Kaitlyn

    I so enjoy reading your pieces. I am always excited when I find you have written something new. At times I feel very alone and your words always have a way of making me feel that the community I seek is out there.


  32. Lindsey

    “…all of which we probably couldn’t quite afford at the moment but felt so necessary to our existence that it didn’t even matter.”

    My husband and I fight about money more than almost anything else. My understanding is that this is in no way unusual. I am always the one demanding that we be practical, careful, stingy. He is always the one who reminds me that we are alive now, that sometimes that second glass of wine or the weekend getaway is more important to our long term stability than any amount of financial planning or saving. That we are alive NOW, that this is it, is so difficult to remember. Thank you for, once again, reminding me to wake up to the present moment and savor it.

    I send all the positively charged particles I have in your direction. I hope you catch a break so that you can integrate all the things you have learned and the ways you have grown.


  33. kelly

    You’ve made me remember when I felt this way so many years ago in each of the stages I now think of my life as having passed through. Motherhood, marriage, friendships, work — they all have left me feeling both exhausted, yet exhilarated. What I understand is that now is what matters because of those earlier years. My life wouldn’t be what it is without having had them and I am thankful. Beautiful words, beautiful images — oh, that tart.


  34. Kristallo

    Even as a more seasoned being – able to relate…..forever learning on this journey of life…
    Bravo to you for finding happiness even in times of despair…you certainly are destined for great things.


  35. Winnie

    I too have had kind of a tough go at life lately. Love this post and this tart…just wow.


  36. Perry @ Restaurants ketchum idaho

    Such a mouth watering and savoring dessert. I don’t know how to describe it. All I know is I wan’t to have bite of it. I just can’t resist!


  37. Brian

    I’m starting to realize that age… Experience, actually… Has changed the way I react to situations. I used to freak out. Cry. Think the world was ending. When all I needed to do was to remain calm and be thoughtful. I have no idea if you relate to this… But I just felt compelled to share my own experience.

    And of course this tart looks absolutely divine. Totally stunning.


  38. Julie

    Hi there! I love this tart recipe, thank you. I’ve made a similar orange tart before…I used a cookie cutter to cut the oranges into flower shapes. This easily removed the rind (leaving pith) and made it a little easier to eat! Just a thought…
    Thank you for this blog. I love reading it.
    You are fantastic!


  39. Daisy

    Beautiful post!

    How do you edit your photos?



  40. Lily @ Live, Love, and Cupcakes

    This is absolutely gorgeous! As is the whole post!


  41. Irina @ wandercrush

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and celebrations alike, as they are both beautifully expressed…

    Also, YES for Kurt Vonnegut and celebrating winter citrus.


  42. erin

    Kelsey, it may sound old-timey of me to say, but it does get easier. I remember my twenties and feeling like I was supposed to feel so free, so agile, and maybe even so successful. But in fact it was hard, really hard.
    Now that I’m 42 ( yikes!), life is no less intense, but it is SO much easier. I don’t feel the same pressures, I’m more comfortable in my skin, and I’m grateful to have survived my 20s and 30s.
    Good for you for laughing despite it all and for making such beauty for the rest of us to enjoy. That tart of yours is a stunner and you’ll definitely look back on this blog with awe.


  43. Kasey

    I can relate to this post in so many ways (as I often do!). It’s hard to wrap our heads around the present, and its significance, or to understand why events happen as they do. I try to remind myself that one day, this will all make sense. The puzzle pieces will come together, and I will look back at the grandness of things….everything that felt so messy. This cake. Girrrrrllll.


  44. becca

    everything about this is perfect loveliness and I have to admit that sometimes reading your words and seeing the photos together just comes together to make me feel so deeply about life. thank you for that.


  45. Ashley

    What a beautiful and resonant post, and a delicious recipe! Thank you for sharing.


  46. Erin

    A gorgeous tart with equally gorgeous words to accompany. Anything with a tag by Vonnegut is good in my book, too.

    Everyone is commenting on how pretty those blood oranges are, but I’m most struck by the egg yolks — pure gold, baby!


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  48. Abby

    This the the most unbelievably beautiful thing I’ve seen.


  49. Judy

    Speaking as a grandma, don’t the cuffs of your top get dirty?


  50. Trisha (Stew or a Story)

    This tart is stunning and your words are beautiful. So happy to have discovered your blog this Sunday morning.


  51. Jourdie

    I’m catching up on your posts while sitting in revisions for a Buddhist philosophy course. And you know what, it doesn’t feel like distraction at all. It feels like a perfectly appropriate and complementary support to learning how to do and be good, how to nurture others and myself too. Thanks, as always, for caring and sharing and taking pretty pictures of it all too!


  52. Sabrina

    Thank you for your words. Honesty pierces the heart and I am encouraged.


  53. Laurel

    I made this tart for Valentine’s day desert tonight and it was a hit. Delicious, hands down.


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    so yummy!


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  57. Melanie

    Absolutely stunning. Wow.


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  60. Nosher

    your photography is stunning! glad I found you.


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  63. Olivia

    How true – it’s the simple things in life that remain with you as lovely memories – the picnic of bread, cheese and wine eaten in a field in France, watching the sunset or a rainbow after rain, a baby’s first smile, the ‘welcome home’ wag of my dog’s tail – not captured in a photograph but captured in my memory.


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