This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s book packed full of wonderful dessert recipes. This is not a dessert I would typically make because it is a bit labor intensive and time consuming. There are three components to the recipe, the tart shell, caramel layer and the chocolate ganache. Each component comes together fairly quickly and if you have experience making caramel this recipe will be a breeze for you.
This dessert is great for those who love a good Snickers bar, basically this is a Snickers in a tart form (minus the nougat). The tart dough was so good and is reason enough to make this recipe! Slightly sweet, great texture, just wonderful!
If, however, you are like me and would rather have a root canal than use a candy thermometer, this recipe can be a bit intimidating and nerve wracking. All in all in turned out well. I did have trouble with the caramel layer even though Dorie gives very clear directions. It was definitely not the recipe’s fault but baker-error that caused the issues. My caramel layer turned out a bit thicker than I would have liked because I let it cook too long for fear of it being too runny (this has happened to me in the past when I have tried making caramels).
Because my caramel layer was a bit thick, once I added the nuts to it it kind of clumped up into clusters making it VERY hard to spread evenly over the tart shell.
Next time I will A) not cook as long, B) may double the caramel layer and C) spread the caramel over the tart shell and then sprinkle the nuts on top since I think it would be hard to spread even if it was thinner just because the nuts liked to cling to the back of my spatula and dug into the shell. You can tell in the pictures the caramel layer is quite thin.
Despite the error, this turned out very well. I was fearful we would break a tooth (and thus requiring a root canal, the irony in that would not be lost on me) after it set up and chilled. We were surprised when we took our first bite and while the caramel was firm (ok, it was hard) it was not tooth-breaking hard. Yeah! Minor success!
This tasted great and we really enjoyed it. It is not something I will be whipping up again soon, but will be using the tart shell for some Berry Tarts this spring!
I rate this recipe an 8
Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart
by Dorie Greenspan
For the tart shell:
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. very cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
For the caramel layer:
Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 tbsp. salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
For the ganache:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 4 oz bittersweet and 4oz semi sweet chocolate)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
To make the tart shell, in a small bowl stir together the egg yolk, water and vanilla; set aside. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. When you are ready to roll out the dough, unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured work surface.
Roll out with a floured rolling pin, lifting and turning the dough occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.
Roll it out evenly until it is large enough to line a 9-inch tart pan and is about 1/8-inch thick.
Carefully transfer the dough to the tart pan, pressing it into the sides, and trim to remove the excess. Cover the dough with foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads. Bake for 5 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Remove the foil and baking beads and using a fork, gently poke holes in the bottom and sides of the crust. Bake until the crust is golden, 15-20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.Before making the caramel, make sure that you have all the ingredients measured out and ready to go because you have to work quickly once the sugar caramelizes. Also have a medium heatproof bowl at hand to hold the hot caramel.
To make the caramel, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, to medium heat and sprinkle in about 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
When it melts, stir it with a wooden spatula or a fork and sprinkle over another 3 tablespoons. When that sugar is melted, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
The sugar in the pan may already have started to color and that is fine. Stir in the corn syrup and boil the syrup until it reaches a deep caramel color – it will probably begin to smoke, and that is normal.
Bring the simmering cream to a full boil. Stand back from the skillet and stir in the butter and salt, if you’re using it. The caramel will bubble furiously and may spatter, so be careful. When the butter is in, add the warm cream – the caramel will bubble furiously again.
Lower the temperature just a tad and let the caramel boil for just 2 minutes. (If you check the temperature with a thermometer, the caramel should be at 226 degrees F.) Pour the seething caramel into the heatproof bowl and set it aside while you make the ganache.
To make the ganache, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and have a whisk or rubber spatula at hand. Bring the cream to a boil, then pour half of it over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds.
Working with the whisk or spatula, very gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at center of the bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles. Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate, using the same circular motion.
When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir the ganache any more than you must to blend the ingredients – the less you work it, the darker, smoother and shinier it will be.
Cover the ganache with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface of the chocolate to create an airtight seal. Set aside at room temperature for the moment. To assemble the tart, stir the peanuts into the caramel using a rubber spatula. If the caramel is too thick to stir or spread easily, gently warm it in the microwave in 3-second spurts. (You can also hold the heatproof bowl about 10 inches above the burner on your range. Check the consistency after a couple of seconds and repeat if necessary.) Spread the caramel over the bottom of the tart shell in a thin layer. Refrigerate the tart for 15 minutes to set the caramel.
Check the ganache. If it has thickened and is no longer pourable, warm it in the same way as instructed for the caramel above. Pour the ganache over the caramel and jiggle the tart pan to even it. Refrigerate the tart for 30 minutes but no longer, and then keep it at room temperature until serving time.