Monday, June 23, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Tarts

Chocolate Caramel Tarts - made June 17, 2014 from My Baking Addiction
I doubled up on a baking day so I could bring these tarts into work along with the Coconut Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Actually, I had made the dough the night before and shaped them into the tart pans, planning to bake and fill them when I got home from work the next day but I woke up insanely early that morning so I decided I had time to bake them then, let them cool, then fill them. Especially since I didn't actually make my own caramel (I never do), although I did leave it in the original recipe below.

Instead, I went with several different fillings. The tart dough recipe stretched to 4 individual-sized tarts plus 2 mini tart pans. I filled one shell with chocolate peanut butter, another with nutella, the third with salted caramel and the fourth with salted caramel topped with nutella. To signal which filling was which, I topped the chocolate peanut butter one with chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups, the plain nutella with chocolate chips and sprinkles of fleur de sel, and both salted caramels with toffee bits.
The tart dough was easy to make and easy to work with to shape into the tart pans. Don't let your butter get too soft or the dough will be more moist and sticky than it should be. Time how long you bake these since it's harder to tell by looks when a chocolate shell is done and you don't want to overbake these or they'll be dry.
I like making tart shells and filling them with my own filling because you can essentially present different desserts just by changing up the filling. The nutella and the chocolate peanut butter worked really well because they had the perfect consistency for filling. If you fill them when the tart shells are still warm (not too hot), they'll melt a little into the shell, just enough to be gooey and easy to smooth but not enough to turn liquid. The salted caramel was harder to work with. I used the one from a jar from Trader Joe's and it was just a bit too liquid. Once you cut the tart, the filling flows out more than it should. I recommend chilling the caramel first and filling the shell when it's lukewarm, not hot.
The individual-size tart pans I used were a trifle too big to consider single serving. If you have the time and patience, I'd make these as mini tarts. Then they would be the perfect size for individual desserts and you can really vary the fillings and toppings. I hadn't woken up that early to make all of the dough as mini tarts so I made do.
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks, room temperatue
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Prepare the crust: in a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in yolks and vanilla.
  3. Add in dry ingredients.
  4. Divide dough into 6 equal portions and evenly press each portion into the bottoms and sides of 6 3.5" tartlet pans with removeable bottoms. Refrigerate tartlet shells for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prick the tart shells all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 13-15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Prepare the Caramel: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil. 
  2. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°. 
  3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, sour cream and vanilla (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tartlet shells and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, about 3-4 hours.
Ganache (if desired, I skipped it)
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
fleur de sel for ganish, optional
  1. Prepare the Ganache: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil. 
  2. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth. 
  3. Spoon ganache evenly over tartlets and refrigerate until set, 3-4 hours. If desired, sprinkle tart with sea salt and slice. Serve cold.

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