November 23, 2012

Sea Salt Chocolate and Pecan Tart

Are you ready for a gourmet dessert?  Because this is it.  It took an evening to prepare start to finish, and aside from a slip on my end with ingredient substitution, was amazingly worth the effort.  As you can see I left a portion of mine plain because a couple of my holiday guests don't like nuts.  Plain or topped, this was such a tasty dessert and the crust was really good.  I'm happy I had some left over chocolate crust dough; I fully intend to make some mini tarts in the next week!
While not pictured, I definitely recommend serving the tart slices with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. It makes the perfect pairing with the rich tart, and makes it a bit more approachable for people who are overwhelmed by the dense, strong flavors.

For the Crust
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • About 2 cups dried beans, lentils, or rice to fill the crust while it bakes (will not actually be eaten as part of the recipe)
For the Filling
  • 7 ounces 60% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup light muscovado sugar, packed (I could only find dark, so I used about 3/4 cup dark muscovado sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar to cut the stronger flavor of the dark sugar)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (unfortunately I couldn't find flaky sea salt, so I used regular coarse sea salt.  My warning is that if you do the same, only use about 1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of the coarse sea salt; the full tablespoon of that stronger flavor was too much salt for this recipe; served plain it was just too salty and rich.)
For the Topping
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Crust
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Add the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons water, and mix well until all the liquid has been incorporated.
  2. Gradually add the flour and cocoa powder until a dough is formed.
  3. Wrap the pastry dough in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and refrigerate for 1 hour.  The pastry can be made up to 2 days ahead, or even frozen in advance.  If frozen, thaw and knead the pastry to soften it before rolling.
  4. Roll out pastry dough between 2 sheets of wax paper until it is about 2 inches bigger than your tart pan.  The original recipe recommends using a 10 inch tart pan that is 1 inch deep.
  5. Carefully line the pan with the rolled out dough, pressing the pastry well into the bottom edges and folding the excess over the top.  Gently tear or trim off the excess.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes to relax the pastry and to help prevent it from shrinking during cooking.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line the tart with a sheet of parchment paper (scrunch it up first and then spread out a couple times to soften it), then fill with dried beans, lentils, or raw rice.  Don't make my mistake of thinking you can use that ingredient later; being in the oven certainly puffed up all of my rice!  Bake the pastry blind (meaning without filling) for 20 minutes.
  7. Lift out the parchment paper and beans/rice/lentils and bake the shell for 5-8 minutes more, until dry.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.
For the Filling
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a heatproof mixing bowl, and place it over a pan of very hot water.  Slowly stir the ingredients at intervals until they melt together and appear glossy and thick.
  2. Pour the filling into the cooled, baked crust and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight (which I did).
For the Topping
  1. Heat a saucepan over medium high heat until warm, and gradually add the sugar.  Watch the sugar closely until it begins to melt around the edges.  Stir gently until you have a golden liquid caramel.  Some caramel recipes require adding water, but this one does not; be patient as the water in the sugar crystals takes time to dissolve over the high heat.  This is a great tutorial to help you out.
  2. When the caramel is formed, add the salt and mix well.  Pour in the pecans, and mix thoroughly.  Quickly pour the mixture onto parchment paper and spread out with a spatula.
  3. Allow to cool thoroughly, then break or chop up into shards or chunky pieces to sprinkle over the tart.

When ready to serve, lift the tart out of the metal ring (usually the bottom disc is separate and lifts out of the ring).  Quickly cut the tart with a hot, wet knife for perfect, restaurant-quality slices.

Look at how beautiful and golden that topping is!

No comments:

Post a Comment

You want to comment? Awesome! Have at it, rock star.