Monday, July 27, 2015
Think chocolate caramel pecan pie with an air of French sophistication - chocolate-almond pâte sablée, bittersweet chocolate cream ganache, a pecan caramel that balances on the delicate line between sauce-like and stodgy with tightrope walker perfection. Oui, s'il vous plaît.
This tart is one of familiarity. Surely we are no strangers to the tried-and-tested-and-loved combination of caramel and nuts, nuts and chocolate, caramel and chocolate, and the three altogether - in a tart, no less. It's definitely not exotic, perhaps even a little uninteresting. But if you're searching for comforting flavours in a dessert that will make you feel glamorous while eating it, this is it.
As you can possibly tell from the light brown of the crust in my pictures, I didn't use the crust recipe that is specified in the book and I'm just deeply regretful right now because I can only imagine how wonderfully the chocolate-almond dough would pair with the caramel and chocolate ganache. I was trying to use up some leftover dough from my previous tart. I'm also annoyed at myself for procrastinating about taking the pictures until it was evening and the sun was about to slip away completely because the lighting is all horribly wrong. Cue note to self to brush up on editing skills as well.
Oh and see how the caramel flows over the sliced edges of the tart? Now that is perfection in a caramel.
makes a 9 1/2 inch tart
adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
For the crust:
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
20g confectioner's sugar, sifted
35g finely ground almond powder
pinch of salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
16g Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
130g all-purpose flour
Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until creamy. One by one, add the sugar, almond powder, salt and eggs and still working on low speed, beat to blend the ingredients, scraping down the paddle and the sides of the bowl as needed. With the machine on low, add the cocoa, mixing until it is absorbed, then add the flour in three of four additions and mix only until the mixture comes together to form a soft, moist dough - a matter of seconds. Don't overdo it.
Wrap the dough in plastic and gently press into a disc. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days before rolling and baking.
Place a buttered tart ring on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roll the dough to a thickness between 2 and 4mm on a lightly floured surface or in between two sheets of plastic wrap. Lift the sheet of dough and fit it into the bottom and up the sides of the ring. Trim off the excess. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork and chill it for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 350F. Fit a circle of parchment paper or foil into the crust and fill with dried beans or rice.
Bake the crust for 23 to 25 minutes, just until it is very lightly colored. Remove parchment and beans and bake the crust for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until it is firm and uniformly browned. Transfer the crust to a rack to cool.
For the chocolate layer:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream to a full boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. While the cream is coming to a boil, work the butter with a rubber spatula until it is very soft and creamy. Set butter aside.
When the cream is at a boil, remove pan from heat and gently stir the cream into the chocolate. Start stirring in the center of the mixture and work your way out in widening concentric circles. Continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Leave the bowl on the counter for a minute or two to cool the mixture down a little before adding the butter.
Add the butter to the mixture in two additions, mixing with the spatula from the center of the mixture out in widening concentric circles. When the butter is fully incorporated the ganache should be smooth and glossy.
Pour the ganache into the cooled crust and put the tart in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set the ganache.
For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
200g pecan halves, lightly toasted and just warm
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Keep it warm and at the ready while you work with the sugar.
Set a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat and sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sugar over a small portion of the center of the pan. As soon as it starts to melt and take on color, stir the sugar with a wooden spoon or spatula until it caramelizes. Continue cooking and stirring the sugar, adding the remaining sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time, until it is a deep amber color. Still stirring, at the hot cream. Remove pan from heat.
Stir in the pecans, stirring only until the nuts are evenly coated with the caramel. Transfer the caramel to a bowl and leave the bowl on the counter until the caramel is just warm to touch.
Spoon the caramel over the tart, gently smoothing and leveling with a spatula. As soon as the caramel cools to room temperature the tart is ready to serve.
The tart can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.