I was invited to a friend's dinner party a couple of weeks ago (as a side note, she promised a "homecooked Chinese feast" and seriously delivered!! The food was delicious) and I offered to bring dessert. She requested something involving chocolate - her boyfriend is not a fan of fruit-based sweets. I've mostly been baking fruity tarts and cakes for the last few months, so I had to dig into my pile of "to-do" recipes to find something appropriate. Last time I made dessert for them, it was the super delicious Chocolate Stout Cake. Not wanting to do another chocolate cake, but seeking something fancier than cookies or brownies, I settled on Saveur's Chocolate Caramel Tart.
My main concern with this tart was that it was going to be more tooth-achingly sweet than sophisticated. Now, I'm not one who is generally afraid of sweets. I occasionally snuck candy into my bedroom and SLEPT with it in my mouth when I was a young girl! (horrifying, I know...) In any case, as I've gotten older, my sugar cravings have mellowed into a longing for more complex desserts - I love cakes or pastries with olive oil, buttermilk, a sprinkling of salt, rosemary or thyme, etc. So, I was a little concerned that this tart would be too candy-bar-like and "simply" sweet. Eventually, though, I was won over by a huge number of positive reviews from people's previous attempts, and concluded that it would be a fun project. How bad could caramel and chocolate be, anyway?
I sought out the best possible ingredients for this tart, as it is fairly straightforward and the quality of the chocolate, sugar, butter, and cream really shine through (in my opinion, at least)... It went over very well with the dinner crowd! It certainly will satisfy any sweets-lover but has added complexity from the crème fraîche and final sprinkling of fleur de sel (not pictured below - I waited until right before serving to add it and didn't bring my camera to the dinner!)
Chocolate Caramel Tart, adapted from Lottie & Doof >> Saveur (orig. from Brooklyn's Marlow and Sons)
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 c + 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 c unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 c water
2 c granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar here)
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/2 c heavy cream
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1/2 c heavy cream
3 1/2 oz extra-bittersweet chocolate
Making the tart dough:
Cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined. Add egg yolk and vanilla, beat until smooth. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, and beat slowly until just combined (do not overwork the dough). Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk, and wrap tightly. Chill until firm (I waited about 2 hours).
Preheat oven to 325°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough into a large, flat circle with a diameter approximately 1 inch larger than the tart pan. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press into pan. If the dough tears, simply press the pieces back into the tart pan. Chill the tart shell in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Prick the shell all over with a fork. Line with parchment paper or aluminum foil filled with dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper/foil and beans, and continue to bake until the pastry looks dry and set, around 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.
Making the filling:
Place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan with high sides (mixture will boil up later on). Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes a dark-amber caramel, 10-20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and and slowly add the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble up here, so be careful!), followed by the butter and crème fraîche. Stir until smooth. Pour caramel into the cooled tart shell and allow to set, first at room temp and then in the refrigerator.
Making the ganache:
Place chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Bring cream to boil in a small saucepan, then pour over the chocolate. Wait 5 minutes, then stir mixture until smooth. Pour the ganache over the tart (you must wait until the caramel has at least partially set to get distinct layers). Refrigerate until set.
Keep the tart refridgerated until a few minutes before service. Cut into wedges and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Enjoy!!