Thursday, 16 August 2012

An Apology and a Sensational Salted Caramel & Chocolate Tart

Before I start talking about the amazing tart I cooked...I have to start with an apology. I got an awesome NY recommendation from a friend, James, and I totally didn't give him the credit for the recommendation. So I'd like to officially say, James recommended I go to the Meatball Shop in NY, and he was totally right. Thanks James!!

Now...onto the recipe. Nine out of ten times when my friends and I get together for a meal, we each pick a dish and share the load. We all love to cook, so everyone's happy to pick something and bring it along. The tradition started years ago when we started doing hot pot (pick a date, a theme...everyone brings a dish and the person with the best dish gets a prize). It has meant that often, even when I'm not out with that group of friends, I'll often bring something along as well. I love doing it. For better or for worse though, I usually end up picking something that will challenge me, something I've never cooked before as I love trying new recipes. Like for Christmas in July, I cooked pulled pork (shout out if anyone wants me to put that recipe on the blog).

So when I was asked to bring desert last Saturday night, I decided to give Tina's great suggestion of a Salted Caramel & Chocolate Tart a go, along with her sugar tips. Of course, I had to pick a relatively complicated recipe when I had slept in (and was slightly hungover), didn't have all the ingredients at home, and didn't have long to cook it. Oh well, always up for a challenge.
I did some research and combined recipes from a couple of blogs. I took the base and the caramel from Sweetapolita, but I didn't want to do a ganache topping so I grabbed the cake topping from Le Delicieux. The result wasn't perfect, the crust was a little too think, and the cake batter probably could have been smoothed down, but I was still totally happy with it. I conquered caramel, and that really was the aim. So here's how it went.

For the crust:
1 1/2 C plain flour
35g cocoa powder (it's worth getting the good stuff)
1/4 tsp salt (the recipe called for kosher, but I just used table salt)
150g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
70g icing sugar
2 egg yolks, at room temperature (tip: if you separate them when they are cold, they're easier to separate)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (again, the good stuff)

For the caramel:
1 1/2 C sugar...I listened to Tina and used granulated sugar, and IT WORKED!
6 tbs water
3 tbs light corn syrup or liquid glucose (Not hard to find, I bought it in Woolworths)
1/4 tsp salt (again, I used table salt even though the recipe asked for kosher salt)
90g unsalted butter
105ml 35% whipping cream, or heavy cream

For the cake:
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
250g dark (70%) chocolate
150g butter, cut into cubes

Tip before you start...This is a bit of a tricky recipe that a) will take you a good few hours and b) has a few steps where getting things done fast is important (especially with the sugar). So, my suggestion is, only do this when you have time on your hands, and be super prepared. I had everything out and measured before I started and that was a big help. Also, a candy thermometer was pretty key with the sugar. You can cook the caramel without it, but I'm not very experienced, or good, with sugar so I relied on it. They aren't expensive. Maybe $20 from a semi-decent cooking store. Also, I actually don't think the caramel was salty enough, so if I was to cook it again, I'd add more salt.

So first you start with the crust. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Sift and mix together the 1 1/2 C plain flour, 35g cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp salt and set it aside.
Sift the 70g of icing sugar.
Then, using a hand held mixer, cream the 150g unsalted butter and icing sugar until they are lovely and pale and fluffy. So maybe 2 - 3 minutes.
Mix in the 2 egg yolks, one at a time, and then 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Finally, mix in the dry ingredients a bit at a time.
Some people do this section in a food processer, but I did it with the hand held mixer, and it seemed to work fine, but you may need to do the final bit of mixing by hand. Go on, get your hands chocolaty and dirty!!
The tin's you'll need to put the dough into is either a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (something like this) or up to 8 mini tart tins with removable bottoms. Either I didn't spread my dough thinly enough or my tins weren't mini enough, so the recipe only worked for 4 mini tins, so if you're trying to feed a particular amount of people, be careful of this.

Grease the baking trays. Transfer the dough into whichever tin/s you're using, and press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan.
Stick the tins in the fridge for 30mins. One they are nice and chilled, prick the shell with a fork a heap of times, lay a strip of foil on top and put some pie weights (or rice like I did) on top.
Bake it for around 15min. Then take the foil and rice/weights off and bake it for another 5mins. Once it's done, pull it out of the oven and leave it in the tin to rest. Leave the oven on, as you'll need it again. Phew, part one done.
Now onto the caramel. Before you start cooking anything, don't make the mistake I did and pick a saucepan that's too big. There's not heaps of liquid, so if you're using the thermometer, make sure the liquid will cover the thermometer before you start. Rookie error on my part!

So, over a medium heat in your not so large saucepan, whisk together the 1 1/2 C sugar, 6 tbs water, 3 tbs corn syrup or liquid glucose and 1/4 tsp salt.
Bring it to the boil and stick in the thermometer. As soon as it starts to boil DO NOT TOUCH IT. Don't be tempted, don't stir it just a little bit. Don't touch it.
Cook it uninterrupted until the temp reaches 171 degrees celsius. If you don't have a thermometer, you're looking for it to turn a rich, amber colour. It will take a little while, so don't stress if it doesn't happen immediately. Once it's amber, or reached 171 degrees, take it off the stove and whisk in the 90g unsalted butter and 105ml whipping cream. Be careful, the mixture bubbles up.
Once it's lovely and caramely leave it to cool. Then pour it into the cooled tart shells and let it cool slightly. The caramel recipe says to leave it for 4 - 5hrs, or overnight but I didn't, and mine were still delicious. OK, so we're getting there. That's part two done, one more to go.
Now for the cake. Start by gently melting the 250g dark chocolate and 150g butter in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Once it's melted and all glossy, mix it together and set it aside.
Next, combine the 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks in an electric mixer or with a hand held mixer until they are light and creamy. If you want, you can also add a splash of vanilla essence here as well.
Add a little bit of the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk it to combine it. This tempers the eggs so they don't curdle. Then, whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture until it's smooth and all combined.
Divide the cake mixture onto the top of the cases with the caramel in them. Although I didn't, it might be worth smoothing out the cake mixture a bit.
 Stick the tins onto a baking tray, so any overflowing caramel doesn't make a mess, and put it in the oven for 20mins for one big tart, or 10 - 15mins for lots of little tarts. You're wanting it to be set, but with a wobbly, gooey centre.
Let them cool a bit, and then all you have left to do is enjoy. And don't be afraid of left overs. These are just as delicious slightly warmed up in the oven the next day.


  1. pulled pork recipe please! :)

    1. Cos you asked so nicely Ed, I'll put it up :-)