Childhood Candy Becomes a Grown-Up Tart

28 Aug

When I was growing up, I spent nearly every day of the summer at our community pool. In part, this was because I was on the swimming and synchronized swimming teams, but it was mostly because I just loved being there. My friends and I would swim for hours and then play long card games while we ate snacks in the warm sun. It was a pretty sweet life.

One of the best treats at the pool snack bar was the frozen candy. Especially frozen Twix bars. There was a treat worth digging through your bag for 50 cents. I didn’t get them very often since weekly allowance was a precious thing, but when I did I savored every last crunchy bite (well, as much as one could before the chocolate started getting all melt-y).

I was asked to make a dessert for a recent dinner party and thought fondly of that summer treat, so I decided to play with those flavors. I came up with a decadent tart that most certainly tasted like that childhood favorite got all dressed up. Get out your tart pans people, this one’s most definitely worth the effort.

Chocolate-Caramel Tart

Super-duper no-fail tart crust:

No shrinking, no cracking, no problem!

  • 6 oz. unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks)
  • 2 cups flour 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Chocolate filling:

  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 70% dark and the sweetness was spot on.)

Caramel filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt the butter for the crust over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt, stirring until smooth.

Blend the butter mixture into the flour with a rubber spatula and then press the dough into a 10 in. tart pan with a removable bottom.

Freeze the crust for 15 minutes and then bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Bring the cream for the chocolate filling to a boil and then remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Spread one cup of filling into the prepared crust, reserving the rest. I put the remaining chocolate in a piping bag and stored it in the refrigerator.

Refrigerate the tart until the chocolate is firm, about 45 minutes.

Stir the sugar and water for the caramel in a heavy saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Then increase the heat and boil until the syrup turns amber, swirling the pan occasionally (do not stir!) and brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. This will take about 10 minutes, and the syrup will register at about 300 degrees when it is ready.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream, butter, vanilla and salt. The mixture will bubble up. Return the pan to very low heat and stir until the caramel is smooth and the color deepens (see the finished picture) to a rich brown. This will take no more than 5 minutes.

Refrigerate the caramel until cold, but not firm, about 20 minutes.

Spoon the caramel over the chocolate layer in the tart and smooth with an offset spatula. Pipe the reserved chocolate over the caramel to decorate and return the tart to the refrigerator until the caramel is firm. It should firm up within an hour or two, and can be made up to two days in advance (cover once the caramel has firmed up).  Serve chilled.

The crust has a nice crunchy bite, the chocolate is firm but melts in your mouth, and the caramel is creamy and rich. That little bit of lemon in the crust adds a little zing to offset all of the richness. Share with friends and be merry.

Ciao for now,

Neen

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