Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Desserts: Chocolate Caramel Tart

Caramel Chocolate Tart
For the crust:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 egg yolk
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups flour

For the caramel:
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons crème fraiche

For the Chocolate Glaze:
3 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate
½ cup cream

· Cream together butter, sugar, and cocoa in a bowl
· Mix in egg yolk and vanilla
· Sift over flour and mix in
· Wrap dough in plastic and chill 30 minutes to an hour
· Preheat oven to 350 degrees
· Roll out dough and transfer to tart pan
· Blind bake crust for 15 minutes, remove weights and liner and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes
· Remove crust from oven and allow to cool

· Combine sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan
· Cook over medium heat until golden brown
· Off the heat, add in butter, cream, and crème fraiche
· Once butter is melted, pour into cooled crust
· Allow to set up for 30 minutes (refrigerate if possible)

· Heat cream over medium heat
· Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth
· Pour over tart and tilt pan to distribute evenly over caramel
· Let set 1 hour (refrigerate if possible)

Detailed Instructions

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or on a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and cocoa powder. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, and beat in. Sift in flour and mix to combine. Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, pat into a circle, and wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” or 10” tart pan with a removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 10-11” circle (depending on the size of your pan). Transfer the dough to the tart pan (the easiest way to do this is to set your rolling pin at one end of your dough, then roll the dough up on the pin, just as though you were rerolling an unrolled length of paper towel. Position the “loaded” rolling pin over the tart pan at the edge, then unroll the dough and drape it over the pan. Press the dough gently into the pan, letting the excess hang over the side. When the dough is fitted in, roll the pin over the top of the pan and let the edge of the pan “cut” the dough. If there are places that are in any way uneven—the dough tears before you can pat it into the pan, etc—just use some of the scraps to “patch” those places). Gently line the dough with parchment paper or aluminum foil, and fill with either ceramic pie weights or dried rice or beans, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the filling, return to the oven, and bake for 10-15 minutes more. It’s hard to tell with a chocolate crust when it’s truly brown, but when you start to smell that chocolaty smell, it’s time to take it out.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool, about 20-30 minutes. This is about how long it will take to make the filling.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup. Bring sugar mixture to a boil over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. This will look strange at first, until the sugar starts to melt, but it will eventually all be liquid. Keep cooking until the sugar mixture is the color of dark honey. Watch it carefully—sugar goes from perfect to burnt in a twinkling. Just when you think, “Maybe ten more seconds…” pull it off. Off the heat, carefully add the butter and cream (mixture will foam up), then the crème fraiche (don’t wait for the butter to melt, just add it and stir to combine and melt the butter). Once the butter is melted, pour into the tart shell and let set, at least 30 minutes. If you can refrigerate it, this will help.

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour glaze over set caramel, tip pan to distribute chocolate evenly, and let glaze set, 1 hour. Again, refrigeration is helpful here.

Serve in slivers, each scattered with a few grains of fleur de sel. Makes 10-12 servings.


Have you ever had the feeling that certain aspects of your life were jinxed? I've often heard people say they have "bad luck" with this or that. They go through three DVD players in two years, or they keep buying travel mugs that keep breaking, or every time they have the battery changed in a watch, it dies within two months. You know what I mean.

When I decided to make this tart, I had one of those moments when I was convinced I was just cursed. Rather than use my stand mixer to make this, I decided to use a hand mixer. I was feeling lazy, and the clean up would be easier, I reasoned. Years ago we bought (or were given, I sort of forget now) a hand mixer. It was just your basic hand mixer, nothing remarkable. Then one day, about three years ago, the beaters vanished. I mean they disappeared into thin air. One day I used them for something, and ran them through the dishwasher, and the next time I went to look for them, they were gone. My kids were too little to have put them in a weird place, we hadn't had any houseguests (often after we have guests, I discover things in odd places--well, odd to us, obviously not odd to them), and my husband didn't know where they were either.

We looked everywhere those things could be, and in three years they have yet to materialize. Every so often (usually when I had the bright idea to use the hand mixer) we'd say, "Really, we should just buy a replacement set--this is silly!" but it was never a priority except in the 10 or so minutes around the time during which I wanted to use the mixer. Then it was gone from my mind until the next time I wanted to use it.

Flash forward to maybe a month ago, when my grandmother was moving out of her condo and getting rid of things she no longer used on a regular basis. I asked if I could have her hand mixer, and she gave it to me. I wanted it for two reasons: first, it was a 1950-something Westinghouse (my grandparents always bought either Westinghouse or GE appliances--my grandfather worked on the Westinghouse and GE accounts when he was in advertising in the 1950s and 60s, and he was a firm believer that if you were going to tell other people to buy the products, you should use them yourself) and after 50+ years it was still going strong, and second, it had beaters.

So, to make a long story short (too late), I now have a mixer with two beaters, and this great tart recipe to make. I get out the ingredients. I get out a bowl. I get out the mixer. I get out the...wait, where are the beaters? Where are the beaters? You're never going to believe this. I couldn't believe this. I could not find those beaters for love or money. I looked everywhere. I could only stand there in bewilderment, and assume that when it came to mixers (or, more accurately, beaters for mixers), I was simply doomed. Going forward I would be one of those people who says, "I have terrible luck with..." and would finish that sentence with, "hand mixer attachments." I was completely floored. I checked every drawer, every cabinet. Could. Not. Find. Argh!

Finally, after doing what anyone in this day and age does when something utterly maddening happens (which is to say, I posted about it on Facebook), I looked one more time. And I did find them. Not in any bizarre or unreasonable place. Just toward the back of a drawer. Now I've put them in the drawer with the whisks (which I think makes sense, since that's essentially their function). We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, this tart is amazing. I've made it twice now, and the first time it was a bit overly gooey (but really, overly gooey caramel--so what?) and the second time the consistency was perfect, but I decided that the chocolate glaze constitutes lily gilding, and I'd skip it next time. In fact, I think it would be better without the glaze, but with some chocolate whipped cream (cream with a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder and some powdered sugar beaten into it, then whipped).

Lately my recipes have been my own. I shamelessly admit that I got this directly out of Amanda Hesser's new New York Times Cookbook (and she got it from the pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern who developed it in the first place). I wrote up the detailed instructions from my own execution. It's very rich, so a little goes a long way, but this is truly an amazing dessert. Assuming you can find the attachments to your mixer.

1 comment:

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