While Claudia Fleming was the pastry chef at the Gramercy Tavern in New York City, she was one of the pioneers of using flaked sea salt to finish her chocolate caramel tart. These days, the use of a finishing salt on desserts is fairly common, but Fleming was among those who started the trend two decades ago.
Amanda Hesser wrote an article in. The New York Times (August 30, 2000) https://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/30/dining/there-s-new-flavor-town-it-s-salt-dessert-traditions-go-over-shoulder.html about the use of salt in unconventional ways as a flavor enhancer. In this chocolate tart recipe, a light dusting of flour de sel elevates the contrast between the chocolate crust, the smooth caramel, and the top for dark chocolate ganache.
chocolate caramel tart
FOR THE CHOCOLATE DOUGH:
- ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
FOR THE CARAMEL FILLING:
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup corn syrup
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons creme fraiche (available at specialty food markets)
- PInch of salt
FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
- 3 ½ ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate (70 to 85%), chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Fleur de sel
- Prepare chocolate dough: In bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. Beat until smooth. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until blended.
- Sift flour into dough mixture. Beat on low speed until combined. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan. (You can use a 9-inch pan, but the crust will be thicker and the caramel may take longer to set in step 4.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line tart with foil, and fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, and bake until pastry is dry and set, another 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Prepare caramel filling: In a large saucepan, bring sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil. Stir or swirl the pan occasionally, until mixture is a medium amber color, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat. Caramel will continue to cook and darken off of the heat. Carefully but quickly whisk in the butter, cream, creme fraiche and salt until smooth (mixture will bubble up). Pour hot caramel into tart, and allow to cool and set, at least 1 hour.
- Prepare chocolate glaze: Place chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate and whisk until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Pour glaze over tart, tilting tart for even coverage. Refrigerate until tart is set, at least one hour, then sprinkle with a few granules of fleur de sel. Keep refrigerated until serving.
The recipe is Amanda Hester’s adaptation of the original Gramercy Tavern tart. Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen) has also published this tart. Now, I know that making of anything with a caramel can be a challenge sometimes. It can frighten people, but with a little care, it is a lot easier than most realize. In a past posts, I detailed caramel preparation: https://trustforce.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=234&action=edit, but more to the point, my post on Cupcake Jemma’s techniques on caramel making https://trustforce.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=850&action=edit
The caramel needed for the tart is in between a wet and a dry caramel. The secrets to making it perfect every time are:
- Use a heavy saucepan; I use an All-Clad D5 or my heavy copper/nickel lined saucepan. Don’t use a dark interior pan as it is difficult to ascertain the color developing as the caramel cooks.
- Don’t rush things. Use medium heat and be patient. If the temperature is too high, it is very easy to push passed the point of perfect to burnt in seconds. You are looking for a medium amber color, not deep brown. I used an infrared thermometer and pulled the pan off heat at 348F.
- Have the butter, cream, creme fraiche (or sour cream) and salt arranged as a mise en place ready to use as soon as the caramel is at temperature. Whisk each addition in carefully so none gets splattered.
- Cool the tart after the hot caramel in the tart cools a bit. This will make the glazing of the gananche easier without the caramel layer moving.
This dessert is very rich, so small slices are just right. Serve with raspberries or strawberries, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side. Yum!