This tart is full of personality and complex chocolate flavor. Don't be mislead by the caramel, it doesn't provide a lot of sweet flavors but helps to create a more deep and complex chocolate flavor with some background notes of caramel. The hazelnut crust perfectly complements the chocolate. If you don't want to use nuts feel free to substitute with a sweet tart crust. Use your favorite chocolate because the flavor really shines. My "week of chocolate" has given me the oppportunity to revisit all of my dessert cookbooks and find all the recipes I have wanted to try and or share. Today's tart comes from The Sweet Life: Desserts From Chanterelle by Kate Zuckerman. Her book is wonderful, full of great information and interesting flavors and solid techniques, not to mention beautiful photos.
For the hazelnut crust, the following recipe will make twice as much as you need, so feel free to cut it in half or you can easily freeze the left over dough for another tart later on or you can roll out the dough and bake for wonderful cookies.
Chocolate Caramel Tart with Hazelnut Crust from The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman
Hazelnut Crust (Enough for two 8-9" tart shells)
1 cup (5 oz) hazelnuts
1 1/2 cup + 2Tbs all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
12 TBS (6 oz)butter at room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 TBS sugar
2 yolks at room temperature
Equipment: you will need an 8 or 9 inch tart shell that is about 1-2" high
Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor with 1/4 cup of flour until you have a fine meal. Add to the rest of the flour, baking powder and salt. (Alternatively if you already have hazelnut meal, you can substitute that for the whole hazelnuts and skip the grinding all together.) In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture lightens in color. Add the egg yolks, one at a time mixing until they are completely emulsified into the butter. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough into two portions (if using whole recipe) and then wrap the dough with plastic and press down so that it's about 1/2" thick. Let it chill until firm (or you can make it a day ahead and leave it in the refrigerator over night). You can freeze any leftover dough or use it to make rolled out cookies. To roll out the tart shell roll one portion of dough out so that its about 1/8" thick and in a rough circle shape. Place your tart pan over the dough and make sure the circle is big enough so when you place it in the tart pan there will be enough to go all the way up the sides as well as the bottom. Line the tart pan with the dough paying particular attention to the bottom edge, making sure the dough is pressed all the into the edge. Freeze it until solid (about 1/2 hour). Pre heat the oven to 350 F and take the tart pan out of the freezer. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill it with either pie weights or dried beans or rice. Bake for 30 minutes until the dough is almost baked through, take the shell out of the oven, remove the beans and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the bottom of the dough is a light golden brown. The baked shell can be saved for up to two days well wrapped at room temperature.
Chocolate Caramel Filling
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
8 TBS (4 oz ) butter
5 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
Turn the oven down to 325 F. In a medium saucepan combine the sugar with 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil and continue to let it boil until you see the sugar start to caramelize. For tips on cooking sugar refer to my post for caramel sauce. You want to make sure you get a nice dark amber color before taking the sugar off the heat. While the sugar is cooking heat the cream in a small saucepan or in the microwave until warm to the touch. When the sugar is at the right color take it off the heat and slowly add a little cream. You'll see the sugar bubble up quickly, so don't add too much at first. When it subsides, stream in some more cream, wait for it to finish bubbling making sure to whisk the whole time and then when those bubbles subside you can slowly pour in the rest of the cream. By this time the mixture will have cooled down slightly and won't bubble up as much. If you find that there is still hard bits of sugar in the pan you can return the pan to the heat and let the mixture come back up to a boil to melt any hardened sugar. Pour into a bowl and let it cool sightly. In another bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together over a pan of hot water (or you can melt it in the microwave). Make sure you only keep it on the heat long enough to melt chocolate and butter so the mixture doesn't get too hot. While the chocolate is melting combine the yolks and whole egg in a bowl and whisk until the mixture is light and foamy.
Starting at the top: the whipped eggs, to the right is the caramel, the bottom left is the melted chocolate and butter all right before being mixed together.
Slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture to the eggs, and once that's mixed, whisk in the caramel sauce. Pour this into the prebaked tart shell and return it to the oven to bake until it is set (about 30 minutes). To check for doneness shake the pan gently and if you see a large ripple, the custard is not set, but if it shakes together like jello take it out. Additionally you can gently touch the center of the custard and as long as nothing sticks to your finger it is ready to come out of the oven. Let the tart cool in the pan on a cooling rack before unmolding the tart. This can be served slightly warm or at room temperature with some lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream or ice cream. The tart is best served the same day, but can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because of the onslaught of dessert I have frozen this after photographing the tart, and when I pull this out of the freezer I'll let you know how it holds up!