Saturday, December 4, 2010

(non)Turkey Day Recap: Chocolate Caramel Tart

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. I constantly waffle back and forth between bah humbug thoughts and holiday cheer. While I do enjoy the holidays to an extent, the seemingly unending extravaganza of Thanksgiving rolling into Christmas and marching on to New Year’s Eve/Day just wears me out. At a certain point, I’m ready for the whole thing to be done.

Despite my ambivalence, I really enjoy Thanksgiving. Probably because it comes at the beginning of the onslaught before the mania really sets in. I love the symbolism of the day- giving thanks and sharing a meal- but I don’t particularly like the menu. I’ve had every version of turkey- from fried to Turducken- and I’ve yet to have been bowled over by any of them. Turkey is just a dry-ass, flavorless bird, if you ask me, and I don’t have any desire to uphold a tradition just because of precedent.

I do, however, respect traditions that I enjoy- I’d be all up in arms if my mother served anything other than Shrimp Creole and crusty French bread on Christmas Eve. I suppose some people feel that strongly about turkey. Personally, I have an issue with serving food just because it’s expected. Fortunately, my husband shares this sentiment and since we were hosting (non)Turkey Day at our home this year, we ditched the bird.

When we host a meal, the division of labor is based on skill sets. Therefore, Eric made the savory dishes and I was in charge of bread and dessert. He decided on lamb chops with a sugo of lamb shoulder as the main course. We did uphold the Gulf Coast Thanksgiving tradition of serving oysters but instead of an oyster dressing or gumbo, Eric made baked oysters with a topping of beet greens, herbs, and breadcrumbs as a starter. The rest of the beet went into a delicious salad. Earlier, before the dinner menu was even set, I had decided to make a chocolate caramel tart. Fortunately, this super sumptuous tart was just the thing to pair with the rich lamb dish.

Turns out, everyone was turkeyed out from prior celebrations so the non-traditional meal went over well.  Yay! I think our new tradition will be to continue to flout tradition- at least the ones we don't like. (Don't get any ideas, Mom. I'm expecting Shrimp Creole on December 24th. No Exceptions!)
Chocolate Caramel Tart
adapted from a recipe from Marlow & Sons, published in Saveur

When I saw this recipe, I made a mental note but neglected to tear it out and set it aside. Later I couldn’t remember where I had seen it. After a week of Googling and searching websites, I finally found it at Saveur’s site. Despite the aggravation, it was worth the effort to dig up the recipe. The original recipe as published is here. I made a substitution on the caramel filling and used David Lebovitz’s rich caramel sauce recipe from Ready for Dessert because I like a darker, full-bodied caramel flavor. Also, next time I think I’ll use Dorie’s chocolate shortbread tart dough recipe for the crust. Dorie’s had a more pronounced chocolate flavor and I think it would stand up better to the caramel.

1 1⁄2 cups flour
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c (8 oz) salted or unsalted butter
2 c sugar
2 c heavy cream
1⁄2 t vanilla extract
1⁄2 t salt

1⁄2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Gray sea salt for garnish

To make the crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Butter a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
2. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and then mix in yolks and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix in.
3. Transfer dough to the buttered tart pan and press evenly into bottom and sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until done.
4. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool.

To make the caramel:
1. In a large saucepan with heavy bottom, melt butter over medium heat and then add sugar. Cook and stir occasionally until the mixture is a deep amber hue and looks and smells like it is just short of burned. It should foam a bit at this point.
2. Remove pan from heat and and carefully add in the cream (stand back as it may splatter). Stir until smooth, then add the vanilla and salt and stir to smooth again. When the mixture has cooled enough to taste, check the flavor and add more salt, if needed.
3. Pour the caramel sauce into the tart shell and place the filled tart in the refrigerator to allow the caramel to set up for a few hours before topping with ganache.

To make the ganache:
1. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. 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.
2. Pour ganache evenly over the tart. Allow to cool slightly and then sprinkle with sea salt.


  1. Feeling a little short of breath, here as I gaze speechless at that thing of remarkable beauty!

    I swear to god, woman, I'm going to run out of room on my hard drive what with all the bookmarking of your posts I'm having to do.

  2. I can tell by the look of this tart is would be absolutely delicious.


  3. I cut this out of Saveur too but still haven't made it. I have a similar tart marked in a book that I drool over every time I look at it. I think I'm procrastinating because I know I'll devour every bit of it as soon as it's done. It looks divine!

  4. Thanks ladies! This one was a winner- even if it's a bit on the heavy side. Definitely a winter dessert.