Saturday, July 14, 2012

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart


My first attempt at a tart was made a couple of months ago - before I started this blog. It was a pure chocolate tart, and it was a delicious hit with my friends and family. For my second tart, I decided to try something even more ambitious – salted caramel with chocolate ganache on top. Of course, everything, even the caramel, was made completely from scratch.

It’s a fairly labor intensive recipe, but I’d go as far as to call the process exciting. Making your own caramel from scratch is a perilous and exhilarating process – like working with molten lava in a pot. The whole salty & sweet combination is one that will not necessarily appeal to everyone. After all, it is a fairly strange concept. But with just the right amount of salt on top, the flavor of the rest of the tart really explodes with every bite.

Recipe adapted from Adventures of a Season

Difficulty: Relatively Difficult
Active Prep Time: About 1 hour
Total Prep Time: 3 hours
Special Equipment: Stand Mixer, Candy Thermometer
Serves: 10 – 12

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup, plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened, Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
  • ½ cup, plus 2 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Caramel Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • ½ cup light corn syrup or golden syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoon salted butter, cubed, at room temperature


Ganache Ingredients:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon chunky salt



(Begin with the crust)

1. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.


2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and remove any lumps.

3. Add egg yolks and vanilla to butter, mix on low speed until combined.

4. Continue beating on low speed, and slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until it begins to form a ball of dough.


5. Remove dough from mixer and finish using hands. Gently press dough into a 9'' fluted tart pan with removable bottom.


6. Press evenly across bottom and up the sides of pan. Use a sharp knife to trim the edges even with the pan.

7. Refrigerate 30 minutes, and preheat the oven to 350ºF

8. Prick tart shell all over with fork, line with a circle of parchment paper, and fill with pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. If tart shell has risen a bit, gently press the crust down back into the shape of the pan. Place on wire rack to cool.


(Move onto the Caramel)

9. In a small saucepan, heat the cream, 2 tablespoons of butter, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt over medium-low heat until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat, cover to keep warm, and set aside.


10. In a medium, heavy-duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the sugar and corn syrup, stirring gently in the beginning, to ensure it melts evenly. Once sugar has dissolved, only stir or swirl pan as necessary to prevent hot spots.


11. Cook until syrup reaches 310°F. Sugar should have turned a deep, caramel color by this point.


12. Remove from heat and pour in the cream mixture. This will cause the mixture to bubble up like molten lava, so exercise caution here!


13. Return pan to heat and continue cooking until it reaches 260°F.

14. Remove pan from heat, remove thermometer, and carefully add remaining cubes of butter, stirring until completely melted and smooth.


15. Allow caramel to cool in pan for five minutes, then pour into tart shell. Refrigerate the tart for 10 minutes to allow the caramel to firm up a bit.


(Make the Ganache)

16. In a medium saucepan, slowly bring cream and butter to boil.

17. Pour chopped chocolate into a medium sized bowl.


18. When cream is ready, add chocolate. Stir slowly with rubber spatula until completely smooth.


19. Allow ganache to cool close to room temperature, then pour over caramel layer. Use a rubber spatula to spread evenly to the edges of the crust.


20. Refrigerate tart for 30 minutes, or until ganache has firmed slightly. Sprinkle with the chunky salt, and refrigerate until completely set, about 2 hours.


21. Store tart at room temperature, as the caramel can be difficult to slice through while it’s cold.

Additional Notes:

Though the recipe calls for a candy thermometer, I don’t actually have one. While it was easy enough to eyeball the first few steps of the caramel making process (just watching for it to turn the proper color), the rest was mostly guess work. The fact that it came out the right consistency in the end was more lucky than anything else, so if you can, do try to have a candy thermometer for this. Oh, and definitely be careful when working with boiling sugar just in general.

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