Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tartlettes

A friend of mine ordered something for me a few months ago, and in return asked me to simply bake for him. I guess I was flattered that he held my baking skills in such high regard that he would take that over actual payment. He wanted something chocolatey. And so here it is, a little late, but nonetheless a sign of my appreciation. For you, my creme-brulee-loving friend, is Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart.

This is great in small doses, rich with chocolate, cream and butter. It's simple yet very decadent.

Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart

Sweet Tart Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick plus
1 tbsp unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and frozen)
1 large egg yolk


1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, sifted

1 tbsp light corn syrup

2 tbsp salted butter (at room temperature and cut small)

a pinch salt if using unsalted butter

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream

4 tbsp unsalted butter (at room temperature and cut small)

3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

To Make Sweet Tart Dough:
Put flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until butter is coarsely cut in. Stir the yolk and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in process in long pulses (about 10 seconds each) until the dough forms clumps. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and lightly knead to incorporate any dry ingredients. Butter a 9-inch fluted pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You should save a little piece to do patchwork with later. The crust should still be crumbly, just be sure that the edges of the pieces cling to each other. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 25 minutes (for a partially baked crust). To fully bake a crust (as in this tart), remove the foil, press down the crust slightly if it has puffed, and bake for another 8 minutes or so, until firm and golden brown.

For the Caramel:
Bring the heavy cream to boil. In another skillet over medium heat, sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of sugar. When it melts, stir with a wooden spatula or fork and sprinkle over another 3 tablespoons. When that sugar has melted, add in another 2 tablespoons. Stir in corn syrup and boil teh syrup until it reaches a deep caramel color. Don't worry if it begins to smoke. Stand back from the skillet and add in butter and salt if you are using it. The caramel will bubble and sputter. When the butter is in, add the warm cream. The caramel will bubble again. Lower the temperature a bit and let the caramel boil for 2 minutes (candy thermometer should read 226 degrees F). Let cool.

For the Ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to boil and pour half of it over the chocolate, allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Stir in concentric circles, starting in the center and working your way outward. Pour in the remaining half of the cream and blend in the chocolate until smooth. Add in the butter piece by piece, stirring just enough to blend the ingredients. The less you work it, the shinier, darker, and smoother the chocolate will be. Cover the ganache with a plastic wrap right up against the surface of the ganache. Set aside at room temperature or refrigerate if not using immediately.

To Assemble:
Stir the chopped peanuts into the caramel. If the caramel has cooled too much and turned hard, gently warm it in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Spread the caramel in a thin layer over the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Refrigerate tart for 15 minutes to set the caramel layer. Pour the ganache over the caramel, making sure there are no air bubbles. Refrigerate assembled tart for 30 minutes (no longer) and keep at room temperature until serving time.

That recipe being said, I made a few changes. I made individual tartlettes, and used a different method for making the caramel. Mine is made with caramel candy and a touch of heavy bream, melted together. The resulting caramel will harden quite quickly upon cooling, so I just keep it in the pot I made it, and heat it up briefly before use. I also used pecans instead of peanuts. As for the tart crust, it was ok. I was a little nervous making it because the crust is so crumbly. It is very short-bread like, while I like a tighter, moister crust. The tart, or rather tartlettes, got good reviews.


Deborah said...

This would definitely be a great payment for anything! Delicious!

Jaime Richardson said...

Lovely! Especially that last shot. If I didn't just scarf down the rest of the apple crisp from my blog, I would probably whip this up right now. Nothing like a glorious chocolate tart for a Sunday afternoon. Thank you!

Lara said...

I just made this recipe today. Considering you made tartlets, may I ask how many you got?