03 Jan Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart
Crunchy, buttery pastry. Creamy salty-sweet caramel. Melt-in-the-mouth dark chocolate ganache. The three elements that make up this perfectly decadent chocolate tart. Well, I say it’s perfect but it does have one flaw… all the setting time required before you can actually eat a slice! So if you are planning to serve this as a show-stopping after-dinner dessert, then best you get cracking with it in the morning.
This salted caramel recipe is by far the best one I have tried. If you haven’t made caramel before then don’t be scared to give it a go. The trick is not to stir the sugar/water mixture at all, as tempting as it may be. (And don’t go sticking your fingers in for a taste! It gets incredibly hot.) Then knowing when to remove the caramel from the heat and add the cream is the other trick. You want the caramel to be a lovely golden brown but don’t let it go too far or you will be left with a burnt taste. Once you have mastered that timing, you’ll be making caramel again and again. The sauce on its own is fantastic to pour over ice-cream (*sugar coma*) or dip shortbread into… (or spread it on your toast… eat it with a spoon… you get the picture.)
Just look at the gooey caramel sauce oozing onto the plate. It’s begging you to eat it!
(Makes a 36cm x 12cm rectangular tart)
160g flour (285ml)
35g ground almonds (5 tbsp)
30g unsweetened cocoa powder (¼ cup)
50g sugar (¼ cup)
pinch of salt
110g cold butter, cut into small cubes (7 tbsp)
5ml vanilla extract (1 tsp)
1 large egg
15-30ml ice water (1-2 tbsp)
300g white sugar (1½ cups)
125ml water (½ cup)
125ml cream (½ cup)
70g unsalted butter (⅓ cup)
5ml vanilla extract (1 tsp)
5ml salt (1 tsp)
125ml heavy cream (½ cup)
120g dark chocolate, chopped (⅔ cups)
sea salt crystals to garnish
- Start with the chocolate pastry. Add the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, and icing sugar to a food processor bowl. Blitz together until uniformly mixed.
- Add the butter cubes and blend again until the texture is like coarse crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. If necessary, add a little iced water to make into a firm dough. Do not overmix. Alternatively, do this by hand by rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients and stirring in the liquid. Refrigerate the pastry for at least 30 minutes.
- Lightly grease a rectangular tart tin (around 36 x 12cm). Roll the pastry out to 2-3mm thick on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle shape. Gently lift and transfer to the tin and press in evenly. Run a rolling pin over the top to remove the excess pastry. Refrigerate again for at least 30 minutes. (I had a little pastry leftover).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prick the dough with a fork and line the dough with baking paper. Fill with dry beans, rice or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the weights and the baking paper. Return to oven for another 10 – 15 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from the tart pan.
- Prepare the caramel (this is the fun bit!). Place the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Cook without stirring until sugar dissolves.
- Use a wet pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan. This prevents the sauce from crystallising.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and continue cooking until the syrup turns a caramel colour (this requires some patience, but keep watching it – after ages of no change in colour it all of a sudden turns!). If you have a sugar thermometer this is at around 174°C.
- Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the cream. It will bubble up!
- Cook for another 1 or 2 minutes stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla extract and salt. Stir well until smooth.
- Let the caramel cool slightly and pour over the chocolate crust. Refrigerate for about 4-5 hours.
- Prepare the chocolate ganache. Heat the cream in a small saucepan. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth.
- Pour the chocolate ganache over the set caramel. Spread it evenly and refrigerate for another 2-3 hours before serving (the final bit of patience required!). Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve.