Nutty Chocolate Caramel Tart
A rich shortcrust pastry topped with layers of caramel, chocolate ganache and caramelized nuts. An all-occasion dessert that simply owns the rest.
First of all hi.
Second of of all Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, I have a couple things to share with you before I share possibly the best chocolate caramel tart recipe on the entire planet.
I spend A LOT of time on the internet. Partially because of school work and partially because of my baking obsession. Part of that time is spent scrolling through the food lists on Buzzfeed. It’s sort of been a dream to get up there with all of my favorite bloggers, and it happened last week. Please do check it out if you get the time.
2nd thing to share- writing is another one of my hobbies. I currently write for two publications: Warsaw Business Journal and Warsaw Insider.
This month, I published a food review about a Belgian bistro for the Insider, a review about one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Pomidoro, and a piece about 10 Polish language films worth watching. It was all great fun. So here’s the answer, in case you’ve been wondering about the lack of posts this month.
I’m done. Let’s move on to the tart.
This tart is the epitome of desserts. A layer of crisp, buttery shortcrust pastry topped with caramel, dark chocolate ganache and caramelized peanuts and hazelnuts. If Europeans celebrated Thanksgiving, this would be a must on their table. My mom said it was the best dessert I have ever made. I’ve been baking for a while now, and she’s tested just about everything, so if she says it’s good, it’s good. This tart is sort of likemy Millionaire’s Tart– in that, it combines the flavors of caramel and chocolate.
I know the recipe is lengthy. It isn’t very difficult, there’s just a bunch of steps involved. I would suggest making the tart shell and caramelized nuts on one day and doing the caramel layer and ganache the next. That way you’ll be in the kitchen for 30 minutes maximum on both days. In the video, I started by making the crust, then the nuts, then the caramel and finally the ganache. This is the best and most efficient way to go.
A couple things to remember when making this tart:
For the shell, the butter HAS TO BE COLD! No exceptions. Cold butter will result in a flaky and soft texture as opposed to a tough and leathery one. I like using a pastry cutter to make the crust but use a food processor if you have one for faster results. At one point, you will need to use your hands to combine the mixture- do this QUICKLY. The less you touch the dough, the better.
For the caramel, follow the instructions to a T. It is very easy for caramel to go from perfect to burnt in seconds. Be careful! Also, this method of making caramel is a little unorthodox because you don’t typically stir caramel due to crystallization. However, it works- if you do fret stirring, just try to swirl the pan so that the sugar browns evenly. Towards the end, sometimes when you add the cream and butter to the caramel, the mixture separates- ESPECIALLY if you let it cool too long. I find that placing the pan back on low heat and string gently solves the problem. Just keep stirring until the mixture comes together again.
For the caramelized nuts, these are great as a snack or garnish for a cake. You can use any nuts you like (dried fruit doesn’t count). Halfway through making these, your sugar may crystallize but don’t worry because it will melt and continue to caramelize as time goes by. The nuts have to be skin-free. For hazelnuts, I blanched them using this tutorial – so easy.
You will love the combination of the salty-sweet caramel flavor, with the bitterness of chocolate and the crunchy nut mixture. Your fork will glide right through. The tart definitely has a wow-factor- it not only looks delicious, it tastes just as good. I was going to post this before Thanksgiving, I apologize for not doing so as I fell a bit behind- but honestly, you can make this tart for all occasions and everyone will be just as thankful.
- For the shortcrust pastry:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 9 tbsp (about 125 g, or 1 stick and 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, COLD! even frozen if possible!
- 1 large egg yolk
- For the caramel filling:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp corn syrup (maple syrup is fine)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp sea salt
- For the ganache:
- 125 g (5 oz) bittersweet chocolate, broken
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- For the caramelized nuts:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup blanched nuts (I like a combination of hazelnuts and peanuts, but you can use walnuts, pecans- whatever nut you like)
- 1 tbsp butter
- Add in the butter and work with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. You can also do this step in a food processor.
- Stir in the egg yolk and work it in to combine.
- When the egg yolk is incorporated and the dough is clumpy, turn it onto a work surface knead quickly to incorporate. Don’t work it for too long as that defeats the purpose of having cold butter.
- Press the dough onto the bottom of a 9 inch tart shell with a removable bottom. You can also wrap it up into a ball and refrigerate, then roll.
- Place the tart into the freezer for 30 minutes, or chill for 3 hours or up to 2 days. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 F or 200 C.
- Butter a side of foil and fit it tightly against the chilled crust. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil, press down any puffed up bits and place back into the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown.
- Cool before filling.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the granulated sugar and corn syrup. Keep stirring till the mixture turns a dark amber color.
- Quickly add the butter and heavy cream- it will bubble furiously, so be careful. Once incorporated, take the pan off the heat, add in the salt, and pour onto the crust. Let it set completely before topping with the ganache and nuts.
- Place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.
- Heat the heavy cream in the microwave or in the saucepan until it comes to a boil.
- Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for several minutes before stirring.
- Stir with a whisk to combine.
- Pour the ganache over the caramel mixture.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the granulated sugar and water, stirring with a wooden spoon just until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add in the nuts and swirl the pan as opposed to stirring, until the mixture turns an amber color and the nuts are toasted, about 10 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, the mixture may start to crystalize and the sugar will get hard. But don’t worry as the crystals will melt, the mixture will begin to caramelize and the nuts will toast.
- When the nuts reach a caramel color, take the mixture off the heat and stir in the butter.
- As soon as the butter is melted, spread the mixture into an even layer onto a pre-prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Work quickly as the nuts harden immediately.
- After around 20 minutes, peal the caramelized nuts and break them into chunks.
- Sprinkle these chunks onto the chocolate ganache and refrigerate the tart for 3 hours or until ready to serve.