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Hearts of Darkness

Cultural Perspectives

By Tim Hazell

Enchanter and temptress, a femme fatale uses charm or coercion to conceal her darkest secrets. Frequently a prisoner of circumstance from which there is no sure escape, she takes maximum advantage of her wiles. Highly intelligent and independent, the “fatal woman” lures men into extreme situations where they are pushed to achieve by her superior strength of will.

The femme fatale exists in literature, opera, theater, and film. In his rendering of Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare creates a vivid and diabolical character.

Lady Macbeth cajoles her husband, flaunting her own manipulative prowess and her innate sense of gender and power. Following King Duncan’s murder, she remains a steadying influence on Macbeth’s nerves during her own arduous slide into madness. Historically, many women demanding equality have had to work clandestinely in the face of social constraints.

Seductive and sinfully rich, this heart of darkness is filled with an unctuous mixture of chocolate-cream ganache, produced by pouring boiling cream over grated chocolate. Serve it plain or topped with kiwi fruit or raspberries.

Chocolate Pie

Crust: (or use prepared)
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. flour for dusting


Using a whisk, blend together egg yolk, cream, and vanilla. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine 1-1/4 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture has a coarse meal texture. Add blended egg, cream, and vanilla. Process about a minute until dough forms. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into a six-inch disk. Cover with the wrap and chill for one to two hours. When ready to continue, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured sheet of wax paper. Place in a 9-inch pie pan. Pierce the bottom with a fork in several places. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time, until golden brown.

Ganache filling:

8 ounce block dark chocolate, coarsely grated
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Grate the chocolate into a heat-resistant bowl and set aside. Ensure that the butter is soft (not oily). Beat one tablespoon of heavy cream with the egg yolks and vanilla until the mixture is smooth. Place the rest of the cream into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate shavings. Let stand for 30 seconds. Using a whisk, delicately blend the cream into the chocolate. Allow cooling for another minute. Fold in the egg yolk mixture, followed by butter. Pour the filling into the baked pie shell. Jiggle the crust lightly to even it out. Allow to set for an hour, or store overnight in the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for two hours before serving.


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