Each Friday, I will share a recipe for weekend kitchen warriors, those of us who love to cook but find more time to do so on the weekends. These recipes may take more time but are worth the effort.
Today, I wanted to share a dessert recipe that is sure to wow any dinner guests: Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate Caramel Tart. (My friends request this dessert so that tells you how popular it will be.) Dusoulier writes the Chocolate & Zuchinni blog. This recipe comes from her first book. Her book is charming but this recipe is a standout.
Chocolate and Caramel Tart
For the pastry:
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced, plus a pat to grease the pan
1 to 2 tablespoons cold milk
For the caramel:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon good-quality honey
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt) or kosher salt
1/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, plus a pat for greasing the pan
For the ganache:
10 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
To make the pastry, grease a 10-inch tart pan.
If working with a food processor, combine the sugar, flour and salt in the food processor. Add the butter and process in short pulses, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add a tablespoon of milk and process again, in short pulses, until the milk is absorbed. The dough should still be crumbly, but it should clump if you gently squeeze a handful in your hand. If it doesn't, add a little more milk, teaspoon by teaspoon, and give the dough a few more pulses, until it reaches the desired consistency.
If working by hand, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Add the butter and rub it int the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers or with a wire pastry blender, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add a tablespoon of milk and blend it in, handling the dough as lightly as you can. The dough should still be crumbly, but it should clump if you gently
squeeze a handful in your hand. If it doesn't, add a little more milk,
teaspoon by teaspoon, and blend again, still working lightly, until it
reaches the desired consistency.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan and use the back of a tablespoon to spread it evenly over the bottom. Using the heels of your hands and your fingers, press down on the dough to form a thin layer, covering the surface of the pan and creaing a rim all around. Don't worry if the dough feels a little dry, this is normal. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a day.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden, keeping an eye on it. Transfer to a rack to cool.
To prepare the caramel filling, make sure you have all the ingredients measured out before you start. Combine the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt the sugar slowly over medium-low heat. Swish the pan around from time to time to ensure even melting, but don't stir. As soon as bubbles form on the surface, add the honey and stir to combine. Add the salt and cream and stir until blended. Remove from heat, add the butter, and stir to combine. Pour the caramel into the tart shel and tilt the pan slowly in a circular motion to coat the bottom of the shell evenly. Let set in the fridge for 40 minutes.
To prepare the ganache filling, put the chocolate in a medium mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel. Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Pour half of the cream on the chocolate (cover the saucepan to keep the remaining cream warm), let stand for 20 seconds, and stir gently in the center with a whisk, gradually blending the cream into the chocolate until smooth. Add half of the remaining cream, and stir again until combined. Repeat with the remaining cream. Remove the tart pan from the fridge, pour chocolate filling into the shell, and level the surface with a spatula. Return to the fridge to set for one hour.
Remove the tart from the fridge 15 minutes before serving. Cut in small slices. It is quite rich. Serve on its own or with fresh berries. The leftovers will keep for 2 days, tightly wrapped and refrigerated.
Makes 12 to 16 servings.