For pastry and dessert cooks, Dorie Greenspan’s name might be familiar. New York Times called her a “culinary guru” and she’s collaborated with Julia Child to co-author an excellent baking bible titled “From My Home to Yours”. This recipe is from this book, although I have modified it a little. First off, the sweet crust is my tried and test favourite by Pierre Herme – click here for the recipe. The second change was to thicken the dark chocolate layer at the base to balance out the sweet caramel filling.
The best part of this sweet short crust pastry (which I use pretty much for every dessert tart recipe) is that it’s easy to roll the pastry really thin and make it really crisp. For a professional finish, after blind baking, the crust trim off the edges with a sharp knife. Greenspan uses a “wet method” to make the caramel, in which the sugar is mixed with the water before caramelising, so I have followed the same. However, you could make caramel using the “dry method” as outlined in this creme caramel recipe.
I served the tart with a whisky crème fraiche (crème fraiche mixed with a tad bit of honey & the nicest Scotch from the drinks cupboard). It was perfect.
Chocolate & Caramel Tart
As recommended by Greenspan, don’t let the sugar colour too much, to avoid the caramel becoming bitter.
Melting chocolate in the microwave is failsafe, and I always use this method even when a recipe calls for using a double boiler method. For the pastry, use the link above for the recipe and make 1 1/2 times the recipe for an 11" tart crust.
Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Line an 11” tart tin (with a removable bottom) with the sweet pastry (follow sweet pastry recipe for directions on rolling and lining the tin) and allow a little overhang (to trim later). Prick the pastry all over with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with baking beans or any dried beans. Bake in the hot oven about 20 minutes, until the pastry, is set and lightly browned at the edge. Remove the parchment paper and beans and bake the pastry for 5 minutes more, until lightly browned on the bottom.
Once cool enough to touch, trim off the excess pastry around the edges to get a neat finish. Let cool whilst you make the filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160C (140C fan).
Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave at high power in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, just until melted. Let cool slightly.
In a small pan, stir a third of the sugar with the lemon juice and 1⁄4 cup of water over moderately high heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture starts to colour, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until a light golden caramel forms, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Stir in the cream and salt, and then let the caramel cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, pour the melted chocolate into the baked tart shell, spreading it evenly over the bottom.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until smooth. Stir the cooled caramel into the egg yolk mixture, and then pour the custard evenly over the chocolate in the tart shell.
Transfer the tart to a baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is still slightly wobbly in the middle. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until set and thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Carefully take out tart and serve with creme fraiche (see above).