Chocolate Crunch Caramel Tart

Good afternoon Bakers!

This weekends’ bake is dedicated to my parents celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. Congratulations on 45 years of wedded bliss – this is quite an accomplishment and an inspiration to us all!!  To celebrate the occasion, my sister graciously offered to host dinner and I chose to bring dessert. Given my fathers sweet tooth for chocolate, I decided upon a chocolate crunch caramel tart inspired by the book: “Baking: From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan.

This recipe was definitely not something I’ve made before. It entails three parts – tart shell, caramel sauce and chocolate ganache. I had a recipe from my new baking book but I can say that my creation turned out quite differently than what was presented. First off, the recipe was for a 9 inch tart, however when I went to the store to purchase my first tart pan, I could only find an 11 inch. I was a bit apprehensive about how this would turn out given the size of the pan but thought I’ll just wing it and add a pinch extra of everything to make it work. That didn’t exactly go as planned.

The tart shell was probably the best part of this recipe. It had very few ingredients and a lovely sweet flavor. I added a pinch more flour, confectioners sugar and butter than stated and I needed to use two whole egg yolks to get it to bind. It looked like coarse sand when it was done but it bound together well when pressed into the fluted pan.

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks

Butter an 11 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.  Put aside.
Put the flour, confectioners sugar and salt into food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter butter pieces all over the top and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Whisk the yolks in a separate bowl to break them up. Add yolks a little at a time (pulsing to incorporate) to the processor. When the mixture forms granular small clumps (mine was a bit yellow-ish), turn out ingredients to a work surface and very gently combine to incorporate. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Freeze the crust at least 30 minutes before baking (Do Not skip this step).

Preheat oven to 375º F.
Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and fit the butter side down tightly against the crust. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and place in the center rack of the oven, baking for 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a metal spoon. Bake the crust for another 6-8 minutes. *Full disclosure, eight minutes was too much for me, the crust seemed overbaked and darker than what I’d like to see but my taste testers loved the taste of the crust. Set aside crust to cool.

Caramel
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons room-temperature salted butter, cut into 4 pieces

The caramel will cook quickly so have the ingredients measured out and ready before hand.

Bring heavy cream to a boil.
In the meantime, heat a medium skillet (I highly recommend a non-stick skillet) over medium heat and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of sugar. When it melts, stir sugar with wooden spoon and sprinkle over another 3 tablespoons of sugar. When that is melted, add remaining sugar to melt (this will look brown in color – it is okay). Stir in corn syrup and boil a minute or two until it reaches a caramel color. Stand away from pan and stir in butter, it will bubble furiously.  When the butter is incorporated, add in the warm cream (it will bubble again).  Lower the temperature just a bit and let the caramel boil for 2 minutes. Pour caramel into heatproof bowl and set aside.

Chocolate Ganache
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Place finely chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil. When the cream has boiled, pour half over the chocolate mixture. Whisk the chocolate and cream together very gently in small circles. Pour in the remainder of the cream and with the same motion, incorporate the rest of the cream. When the cream is all in, stir in butter piece by piece. Do not blend any more than you have to, the less you work it the more shiny and smooth it will be. Cover the ganache with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing plastic against the chocolate surface to form an air tight seal. Set aside for the moment to cool slightly.

Assembling the tart
Coarsely chop 3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts

Using a small spatula, stir peanuts into the caramel. If the caramel has cooled too much to spread, heat in microwave using 3 second heat bursts. Spread the caramel over the bottom of the tart shell to form a thin layer. Refrigerate tart for 15 minutes.

Check the ganache. If it has thickened and is no longer pour-able, warm it in the microwave using 3 second heat bursts. Pour the ganache over the caramel layer and jiggle the pan to even the layer. Refrigerate tart for 30 minutes (no longer) then store at room temperature until ready to serve.

Results
The dessert itself certainly looked very pretty. The chocolate was smooth and shiny and had an even layer. It smelled wonderful. I unfortunately covered the dessert with foil to transport it and the foil stuck to the chocolate so it lost some allure in the pictures.

Chocolate-Carmel-Crunch-Tart

The tart was just okay in my opinion for our dessert that evening. Everyone in my gracious family said the crust was the show stopper but the chocolate was way too intense to finish a whole piece. They would have liked more caramel and this may have helped with the intensity of the chocolate. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a good dessert and I will make it again with some minor modifications:

  • First, I would bake the tart shell for 2 minutes less (6 minutes total after pulling off the foil) to get a more even color.
  • I’d double the caramel recipe but use the same amount of nuts for that layer.
  • Finally, I’d make the whole tart a day beforehand to let it rest. The chocolate was just too rich on the first day. A day later, the dessert it was much less intense and more pleasing to taste. I could hardly stop going back for more. I took the remainder of the tart to work and it was gobbled up in no time.

All in all, I was pretty happy with the 11 inch tart pan for this recipe and with a few minor modifications, I think I’d serve it at another event – perhaps my parents 46th anniversary – if I can wait that long. 🙂

Chocolate-Carmel-Crunch-Tart-Piece

Until next time, Happy Baking!


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