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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

I just wasn’t in the mood for the standard red, white, and blue dessert for the fourth of July.  I must say, this tart was a lovely substitution.  My family devoured (almost) the entire thing (with a side of vanilla bean ice cream); the remainder was delivered to my grandma.  This is a MUST-BAKE!

Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart – Dorie Greenspan (Baking: From My Home to Yours)

For the caramel :

scant 1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar, sifted

1 T light corn syrup

2 T salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

Pinch of salt if you are not using salted butter

For the ganache:

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup plus 2 T heavy cream

1/2 stick (4 T) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

3/4 c honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1 9-inch tart shell, fully baked and cooled (*I used a larger tart shell, and it worked out fine.  I also used Nick Malgeri’s Press-In Cookie Crust)

Getting ready: Because you have to work quickly once the sugar caramelizes, you should have all the ingredients for the caramel measured oout and at hand before you start. Also have a medium heatproof bowl at hand to hold the hot caramel.

To make the caramel: Bring the heavy cream to a boil.

Meanwhile, put a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat and sprinkle in about 3 T of the sugar. When it melts, stir it with a wooden spatula or a fork and sprinkle over another 3 T. When that sugar is melted, add the remaining 2 T sugar — the sugar in the pan may already have started to color, and that’s fine. Stir in the corn syrup and boil the syrup until it reaches a deep caramel color — it will probably begin to smoke, and that’s normal.

Stand back from the skillet and stir in the butter and salt, if you’re using it. The caramel will bubble furiously and may spatter, so make sure you’re away from the action. When the butter is in, add the warm cream — the caramel will bubble furiously again. Lower the temperature just a tad and let the caramel boil for just 2 mins. (If you want to check on a thermometer, the caramel should be at 226 degrees F.).

Pour the seething caramel into the heatproof bowl and set it aside while you make the ganache.

To make the ganache: Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and have a whisk or a rubber spatula at hand.

Bring the cream to a boil, then pour half of it over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 secons. Working with the whisk or spatula, very gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at the center of the bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles. Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate, using the same circular motion. When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir the ganache any more than you must to blen the ingredients — the less you work it, the darker, smoother and shinier it will be.

Cover the ganache with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface of the chocolate to create an airtight seal. Set aside at room temperature for the moment. (If it’s more convenient, the ganache can be refrigerated or even frozen for future use.)

To assemble the tart: Using a small rubber spatula, stir the peanuts into the caramel. If the caramel has cooled and is too thick to spread easily, gently warm it in a microwave oven using 3-second heat spurts. (Or you can just hold the heatproof bowl about 10 inches above the burner on your range — keep it over the heat for a couple of seconds, then check the caramel’s consistency and repeat if necessary.)

Spread the caramel over the bottom of the tart shell; you’ll have a thin layer. refrigerate the tart for 15 minutes to set the caramel.

Check the ganache. If it has thickened and is no longer pourable, warm it in 3-second spurts in a microwave oven or over direct heat (see the hints for warming caramel, above). Rap the bowl to break any surface bubbles, pour the ganache over the caramel and jiggle the tart pan to even it.

Refrigerate the tart for 30 minutes — no longer — then keep it at room temperature until serving time.

*Press-In Cookie Dough – Nick Malgieri (The Modern Baker)

– makes one 10- or 11-inch tart crust –

Ingredients

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

One 10- or 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, buttered

Procedure

1. Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the paddle of medium speed until whitened, about 5 minutes. Beating the butter and sugar aerates the mixture, and the air helps the dough to bake a light texture.

2. Add the egg yolk and continue beating until it is absorbed and the mixture is smooth. Use a large rubber spatula to incorporate the flour.

3. Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface and shape the dough into a rough circle. Transfer dough to tart pan and press into bottom and up sides.

4. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or slide it into a plastic bag and seal securely. Refrigerate the formed crust for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

5. About 20 minutes before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Use a fork to pierce the chilled tart crust at 1-inch intervals to keep it from puffing up and distorting while it’s baking.

6. Bake the tart shell until it is evenly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Check occasionally after it has been baking for about 5 minutes. If large bubbles appear on the bottom of the crust, slide out the pan on the oven rack and quickly pierce the bubbles with a fork to flatten them. Cool the tart crust on a rack.

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