Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Chocolate and Caramel Tart

Sat 14 April 2007

This month's Australian Gourmet Traveller has arrived and features a huge feature on chocolate recipes. The chocolate and caramel tart looked stunning and since I had some dinner guests and I wasn't experimenting on them in any of the other courses I thought ... why not?

The recipe is to serve 16, and kindly the recipe suggests halving the mix if you don't need to feed that many. Quite how I was supposed to halve the three eggs in the ganache we'll get to later.

The pastry is a basic short short crust which turned out really quite well. It got a good long rest in the fridge (over night) and I was able to roll it out very thinly and it made a lovely, biscuity crust. More biscuit than short pastry but delicious none the less. My recipe was not exactly half the given recipe - I ended up using about 200g of plain flour, 50g of icing sugar, 50g butter and 1 egg. I was tempted to add some vanilla essence but the mixture definitely didn't need any extra liquid. The pastry case (23 cm) was baked blind for 10 minutes with baking beans and 10 minutes without in a 180C oven. Allow to cool.

About a year ago I made millionaire shortbread, which, for some reason I didn't write about, but which used evaporated milk in the caramel. This recipe doesn't, is very easy and tasted just fine. Take 150g (ish - 275g is pretty hard to halve!) of caster sugar and mix with 1/6 of a cup of water (I know - some of the halved values were just ridiculous!) over a low heat. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat, bring to the boil and allow to caramelise. The AGT recipe didn't specify to wash the sides of the pan down with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallisation and I forgot about that trick until it was too late! When the sugar is a lovely caramel colour, remove from the heat and beat in one egg, 50mL of cream and 65g of unsalted butter. Return to the heat and beat until smooth (harder work if you haven't been careful with the crystallising sugar to start off with!). Pour the caramel into the pastry tart and allow to set in the fridge.

Once set, make the ganache. Melt 100g of dark chocolate (I used Green and Blacks, and I'm really sorry, but I think this is incredibly overrated chocolate) with 1/2 cup of cream, over a double boiler. Stir to ensure the cream and chocolate are well combined. Then, also over a double boiler, whisk together 10g of caster sugar and one egg yolk, until light and foamy, and then add this to the chocolate and cream, beating all the time (you don't want chocolate ganache with scrambled egg!). Beat until cool.

Remove the set caramel tart base from the fridge and top with the ganache. You can prepare this ahead, just make sure you serve with lots of cream, coffee and grappa!

I appreciate that a lot of people might find this all a bit fiddly (try making that ganache after a couple of glasses of wine!), but if you're a competent dessert cook it's not that much hassle. Having said that, the end result is a kind of glorified millionaire shortbread and I'm not sure I'd serve it at a dinner party again. I think this would be a brilliant dessert for some kind of casual lunch, where you're laying on a lot of dishes and people can pick and choose. And it would be a great hit at a BBQ or picnic. However, I did really like both the biscuit like pastry and the caramel, and I'm sure I'll be using them again. Andy felt the final dish could have been improved by using a smaller tart dish and having a deeper fill. In short- absolutely nothing wrong with this recipe, but nothing outstanding either!

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Many thanks to Housemate for the full photo of the finished tart!
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