Have you ever noticed the blogging conundrum about celebratory meals? I have quite a few dishes in my head right now and who knows when or if I will ever get a chance to share them with you. Prime rib, sweet rolls, pureed broccoli with creme fraiche, apple and beet salad with blue cheese, chocolate caramel hazelnut tart….
What? You want the tart the most? I’m shocked.
Seriously, some of those I will get around to eventually, but this tart deserves to go first. It was knock ’em dead good–and a great choice for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner. Providing it does not violate any dietary laws I am unaware of, I’ll throw in Hanukah and Ramadan too. Fabulously rich and striking in appearance (especially if you are handier with decorating things than I am), it is the perfect end to a festive meal. I even think it would be good without the nuts for anyone with allergies, although I would recommend reducing the caramel in that case.
Other than using 62% cacao bittersweet chocolate with a teaspoon of sugar and subbing in toasted skinned hazelnuts, I made the recipe as written. Next time I would try increasing the size of the ganache recipe and set aside 4-5 tablespoons instead of just 3, but I have left that part of the recipe as written.
Chocolate Caramel Hazelnut Tart
Very closely adapted from Bon Appetit
1 cup (126 g) AP
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 t salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 T (or more) ice waterGanache:
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao; see my note above), chopped
1 1/2 cups unsalted macadamia nuts (about 7 1/2 ounces), toasted , coarsely chopped (I used hazelnuts)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
coarse salt for sprinkling on the tart, optional (this was my sister’s and my addition)
Set aside a 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.
For crust:Place the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a processor and pulse several times to blend. Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1 tablespoon ice water and blend just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Dump the moist crumbs out onto the tart pan. Using lightly floured fingers, press dough firmly and evenly onto bottom and up sides of pan. Chill the crust 1 hour.
Position a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 375 F. Line the crust gently with foil, and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake the crust until it is pale golden around the edges and the sides are set, about 20 minutes. Gently remove the foil and beans; bake until the crust is golden and cooked through, about 14 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool crust completely in pan.
For ganache: Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir until smooth–if it is not completely melted and smooth, microwave in 30 second increments on 50% power until it can be whisked smooth (should not take much).
Spoon 3 tablespoons ganache into 1 corner of a small resealable plastic bag and seal; set aside at room temperature for piping. Pour the remaining ganache evenly over bottom of crust and gently spread it out. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts or macadamia nuts evenly over the ganache layer in the crust. Freeze the crust while preparing caramel filling.
For the caramel filling: Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and increase the heat to boil without stirring until syrup is golden amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes. The thermometer should read about 340 F (this is my addition–Bon Appetit just said 8 minutes, which made me nervous so I did some research). Remove the pan from the heat and remove the theromemeter, setting it aside within reach. Add the cream and butter; stir until any caramel bits dissolve and the mixture is smooth. Re-attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pan and bring the caramel to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil without stirring until thermometer registers 240°F, about 2 1/2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Whisk in the vanilla and salt.
Remove the prepared crust from the freezer. Working quickly, pour the caramel filling slowly into the crust (I had too much caramel and it overflowed the crust–this was not the end of the world but it would have been better had I stopped when the caramel was level with the edges of the pan). Gently shake the tart pan to allow the filling to settle evenly in the crust. Cool completely at room temperature, about 3 hours.
Place reserved resealable plastic bag with chocolate ganache in microwave and heat in 5-second intervals just until smooth and pourable. Using scissors, cut off very small tip (I cut mine too large on accident–hence the odd jail pattern on my tart!) from the corner of the bag with the ganache. Pipe the ganache decoratively over caramel filling in crosshatch pattern. Chill until chocolate is set, about 20 minutes.The tart can be made 2 days ahead, just cover and keep chilled. Bring tart to room temperature before serving. Sprinkle with coarse salt before serving if desired. To serve, remove the sides from the tart pan. Place tart on platter. Cut into wedges.
Bon Appetit recommended ice cream, I tried whipped cream. Half of us strongly preferred the tart plain and half of us strongly preferred the whipped cream.