When it comes to desserts my feet are both firmly planted in the chocolate category. Fruit pies, ice cream, souffles and flans don't stand a chance when there is something deep, rich and satisfying like chocolate on the menu. Autumn is naturally the time when apples, pears and other harvest fruits take centre stage but I'd much rather show up to a party with a chocolate caramel tart than a pumpkin pie which is exactly what I did last Thanksgiving weekend.
I tracked down the recipe for this tart on Saveur and made a few adjustments. The majority of ingredients you can probably find in your pantry with the exception of the light corn syrup which you need for the caramel. A note on the caramel: if you haven't made it before the thought can be a little terrifying however it is really quite easy. A few pointers...
- Be careful! Boiling sugar is hot and sticky and you don't want to get any on you.
- Don't step away from the stove. Use all of your senses and be aware of what the boiling sugar and water is doing. You will both see with your eyes and smell with your nose when the sugar is starting to caramelize.
- The moment you start to see the sugar turn a warm amber colour pay close attention. You might even want to pull your saucepan off the stove and swirl the sugar around (very carefully). The sugar will continue cook off the stove.
- Once the sugar is a medium amber colour add your cream and butter. It will bubble up so make sure you have a big enough saucepan.
- If you caramel is too light you will know next time to leave it a bit longer. If it is too dark then it might be a bit bitter. You can always start again!
FOR THE CRUST: 1 ½ cups all purpose flour ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder ¼ tsp. kosher salt 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. icing sugar 2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature ½ tsp. vanilla extract
FOR THE CARAMEL: 1 ½ cups sugar 3 tbsp. light corn syrup ¼ tsp. kosher salt 6 tbsp. unsalted butter 6 tbsp. heavy cream
FOR THE GANACHE: ½ cup heavy cream 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped Fleur de Sel for garnish
1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Transfer dough to a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
2. Make the caramel: In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter and cream (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours.
3. Make the ganache: Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.
This tart does take some time to make primarily because it has to set between each layer. However, I found a couple of hours was all that was needed unlike the suggested 4-5 hours. Regardless we were rushing to get this made before we headed out the door to our Thanksgiving party. Of course, I had to take some photos (we literally had our coats on when I was like WAIT we need to take photos NOW!) Henry has become quite interested in my "photoshoots" and was a big help in getting these pictures taken.