Um. Look at this tart I just made:
Chocolate crust. Caramel. Toasted pecans. Chocolate ganache. Sea salt.
That is one sexy tart.
In general, I would say that I could be categorized as a “low maintenance” type of girl. I like football and beer; I’m not a fan of pink, sparkly things, I’d rather go to a dive bar than an expensive restaurant, and when it comes to getting ready, I need very little primping time. I can get ready for work in 25 minutes or less – it’s actually a skill I’m very proud of.
But sometimes, I play the girl card and I take my time. I take an extravagant 30 minute shower, use a scented lotion, try one of those fancy face masks, and sit around in my bathrobe painting my nails. I straighten my crazy hair, use an expensive anti-frizz spray, and take a ridiculous amount of time to apply my make-up. This past Friday was one of those nights. I didn’t have enough time for all of that, but I did what I could. My hair was extra straight and shiny, I put lipstick on, and shimmied my way into a little black dress. The dress was perhaps a little va va voom for the event I was going to, but the point is that I felt great. I felt pretty and sexy and sassy and fun. I didn’t find Prince Charming that night or fall in love, or even get a date, but I did feel beautiful. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
My trusty dictionary defines the phrase, “tart up” as: to adorn, dress, or decorate, especially in a flamboyant manner.
So, take a little extra time and feel beautiful. It’s worth it. So is this caramel tart.
Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart
Adapted from Saveur.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sour cream
Plus about 3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Sea salt to sprinkle on top
crust: Heat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Press dough into a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once chilled, prick the crust all over with a fork and bake 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
caramel: While reading the comments on the Saveur post, I noticed there seemed to be a pretty heated debate on the right temperature to heat the caramel to. It also seems like a good candy thermometer is key here. I have a pretty cheap one, but it worked just fine. I took my caramel off the heat at 340˚ as the recipe indicated, but ended up having to put it back on the heat once I added the cream until it reached about 360˚ to make it thicker and caramel in color. That ended up being perfect. So, it seems like that as long you have a reliable thermometer, 350-360˚ will give you the right consistency.
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 Tbsp. water. Bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 350-360°. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, and sour cream until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool.
Toast pecans on a baking sheet in the oven at 425˚ for about 5 minutes (watch to make sure they don’t burn) Pour pecans on top of caramel and press down slightly. I set aside a couple pecan halves for the top of the tart. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Ganache: Bring cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Then, stir slowly until smooth. Pour over tart and refrigerate until set, 4-5 hours or overnight. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, add pecan halves if desired. Slice and serve chilled.