I'd been craving a really good chocolate dessert, and this certainly fit the bill. Smooth chocolate ganache, decadent caramel with nuts, and a crisp, buttery crust to hold everything in place.
First thing I did today was to make the crust. The recipe calls for one 9-inch tart shell made with Dorie's Sweet Tart Dough. I doubled that and made an 8-inch tart shell and a dozen little tarts in muffin tins. I was thinking Bill and Alex could bring them to work/school in their lunches, so that's why I made some little mini-tarts.
Funny thing is, we don't have any more of the mini tarts. I gave 6 to my friends across the street, and Alex and Bill at the rest. Okay, I had half of one. Julia had a part of a half of one:
She was only in it for the ganache, apparently.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I made the tart shells this morning, and I'm sorry – no pictures of that part. My mini tarts (as you can see in the image above) weren't all that tidy around the edges, but the larger tart, in the fluted-edge tart pan, looked nicer.
The filling is comprised of two components. First is a lovely caramel filled with chopped, honey-roasted nuts. The recipe as written calls for peanuts, but I bought a can of Planters Honey-Roasted Mixed Nuts. Yum. Couldn't decide between peanuts or pecans or cashews…so I decided there was really no need to decide, if I could have everything in one can. Phew!
Second component is the silky, creamy chocolate ganache. Simplicity itself: chocolate, heavy cream, and butter.
But again I am leaping ahead of myself.
Back to the caramel.
Well, no, back to the nuts.
Here's a picture of them. I may have put in a tad more than 3/4 of a cup. No one has complained.
I chopped them up and put them in a bowl.
I set those aside and gathered together the caramel ingredients:
Cream, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt. Oh, yes, and it called for a tablespoon of corn syrup, which I didn't have, so I used honey instead.
And since I was being all organized, I figured I'd get the ganache ingredients set up as well.
Sorry for the blindingly bright cream there, but it's the only picture I have, and it's just soooooooooooooooo critical for me to have photographs of every little thing.
Okay, for the caramel.
In one small pan I brought the cream to a boil and then shut off the heat there.
I used a larger pan to melt the sugar…sprinkling, as Dorie suggests, 3 tablespoons of the half cup of sugar first, and letting that melt before adding more sugar. So the sugar is added in three stages. This goes fairly quickly – when you're cooking sugar, it's good to have everything ready to go; there won't be time to scurry over there and measure something.
Also – and I've said this before but it cannot be stressed enough – cooked sugar is VERY VERY HOT AND WILL MAKE YOU WRITHE IN AGONY IF YOU DRIP IT ON YOUR TENDER SKIN. And if you should be so unfortunate (or sloppy) (or distracted) and you end up with hot molten sugar on some part of you, immediately plunge that part of you that's BEEN SMOTHERED IN LAVA into cold water and try to keep the whimipering to a minimum. You'll frighten the neighbors.
Anyway, PSA is over, let's watch some sugar melt….
Once your sugar is all melted and bubbling and your resulting caramel is a gorgeous golden brown, add in your salt and butter. Be careful – if you're using a shallow pan, the caramel will bubble up when you put the butter in.
After that, add the cream, and again – be careful, as it will bubble up.
Once the cream is stirred in, you cook the caramel about 2 more minutes and then pour it all (CAREFULLY) into a heat-proof bowl. Just let it sit for a while – it's too hot to mess with.
Instead, let's turn to the ganache portion of our program.
First – bring the cream to a boil.
Then, pour half the cream over your chopped chocolate (or chips, if you're using them instead) in another heat-proof bowl. Let that sit a bit and then start whisking or stirring gently. You don't want to whip a bunch of air into this, you just want to melt the chocolate.
Add the rest of the hot cream and continue stirring until all the chocolate is melted. Then you add in your 4 pieces of butter, one at a time, stirring until the butter is completely incorporated into the ganache before adding the next piece.
(This is why, when the recipe says "room temperature," it really means "the temperature of the room and not the least bit cold and hard or it won't melt nicely into your ganache.")
Cover this with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing down on the plastic so there are no air bubbles, and set aside.
Okay, you've been very patient.
Yes, we can stir the nuts into the caramel now.
I know. I know. Forget the crust, just get a spoon. But really, trust me, it's worth the wait.
So go get your tart shell (or shells) and – oh, yeah. The recipe is for a single tart. I did a slightly smaller tart and a dozen mini tarts. Well, I spooned a little of the caramel nut mixture into each of the mini tarts and then poured what was left over into the larger tart shell.
They looked like this:
The tarts went into the fridge for fifteen minutes so the caramel could set.
Then it was time to add the ganache.
I did the same thing I'd done with the caramel - spooned some onto the mini tarts first, and then poured the remainder onto the larger tart.
Well they look good enough to eat, don't they?
But before you grab one of them, you need to put the whole tray back in the refrigerator for a final 30 minutes, just to encourage the ganache to set up a bit.
Then you can take the tray back out and dive in.
Although, if you're weird like me, you might have to take a picture of the big tart and the way it was catching the light when you took it out of the fridge and put it on the counter, and aren't the funny little squiggled lines on the surface of the ganache interesting?
Isn't that kind of cool?
Okay fine, go get a plate.
Alex was eager to try one of these, so I shared this one with him.
And then I got some more mini tarts and built a little pyramid.
And finally I stopped playing with my food and put it away for later.
Thanks again to Carla at Chocolate Moosey for choosing this recipe, and thanks eternally to Dorie for sharing this one with us. If you'd like to make this (and why wouldn't you?), you can find the recipe here at Carla's site or in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. And if you'd like to gaze droolingly longingly at more versions of this luscious tart, visit all the other bakers on the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll.