Tuesday, September 29, 2009

{TWD} Salted Pecan Caramel Chocolate Tart

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is the Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart, which combines chocolate, caramel and peanuts. Despite the fact that Snickers bar is the most popular candy bar around, I've learned long ago that I'm not one of those millions who like chocolate and peanuts together. The peanuts' crunch seemed to be an integral part of the tart (it's in the name after all) so I wanted a worthy substitute.


n.o.e.'s notes:

- We've used the combination of those three flavors once before since I've been in TWD, for brownie caramel cake that was chosen almost exactly a year ago. That time I substituted macadamia nuts and toffee bits for the peanuts.

- I wanted to emphasize the salted edge of the caramel, so I decided to use roasted salted pecans from Trader Joe's. The best part is that they are already chopped in tiny pieces, just perfect for adding crunch to the tart.

- There are several components in this tart, all of which need to be prepared and chilled in advance of assembling the tart.

- I was a little bit wary about over-handling the tart dough, and unsure about how high to press the dough in my tall tart pan, so I think my crust could have been thinner/tall, thus holding more filling.

- I don't have a ton of caramel-making experience (and truth be told the idea of making caramel is still pretty scary to me) so this skillet method was new and different for me. Because there is a relatively small quantity of sugar in the skillet I had to tilt the pan to measure the temperature, even though my digital thermometer has the sensor in the tip. One thing I did that really helped: I held my skillet in the air above the burner, checking the temperature – and lowered it to the burner at intervals to better control the heat.

- In the recipe Dorie gives both time and temperature for the last step of the caramel. I was glad to have the thermometer; mine reached the correct temp in half the time – just over a minute.

- My caramel cooked to a deep amber, producing a very strong toffee flavor

- When I assembled the tart, I had too much ganache. I filled the tart shell as high as I dared, then froze the leftover ganache. I've learned that ganache in the freezer will never go to waste.

- For some reason the recipe is very specific: "refrigerate the tart for 30 minutes - no longer". I followed that exactly (I was afraid not to!) but my ganache ended up a bit soft. That just wasn't enough time for it to set properly. I was much happier with the texture of the piece I left in the fridge overnight:

the verdict:

The entire book group was enamored with this tart, and all the members were quite vocal (and quotable) in their reactions:

SF: "You taste this and it makes your toes tingle"

JT: "This is the taste of love"

AT: "The toffee notes are my favorite flavor"

HY: "This might be the best thing you've ever made"

Thanks to Carla of Chocolate Moosey for choosing this week's deliciousness! You can find the recipe for the Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart, on Carla's tart post, or on pages 355-357 of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

41 comments:

pinkstripes said...

Your tart looks wonderful. I like the pecan sub. I'm glad it was a success with the book group. How could it not be?

mike said...

That's about the most perfect tart shell I've seen... and I'm loving it that you did "dark" caramel (my favorite flavor)! It's like a dark, smokey toffee - and trust me, in another batch of caramel-making, you'll be hooked. It looks fantastic Nancy! I'm so glad everyone loved it - it WAS pretty phenomenal. AND worth a second batch!

Audrey said...

I'm sure your book group has tingly toes almost every week! How funny about the 30 minutes and no longer...it almost makes we want to leave it in there for 31 minutes just to see what happens.:) Looks wonderful!

Flourchild said...

Your tart crust looks perfect! Im glad you liked the recipe!

Sarah said...

Your tart is gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I love the shot with the caramel oozing out, it looks so inviting. What wonderful comments by your tasters - I have to agree with them!

jillbert said...

It looks great, and the pecans sound like a great combination with the caramel. The thick crust looks good to me, but it is hard to judge when you're using a different pan.

Jessica said...

I'll be honest, I don't think that I would have made this had it not been for your tweets about the book club's strong (amorous?) feelings about this tart. I'm so glad I did make it, though. Your tart is just lovely (the cake stand, too!!). I really like the idea of using pecans rather than peanuts. I pondered doing that, but went with the peanuts this time.

natalia said...

Ciao ! Yours friends comment are much nicer then the last wish .... faboulous photo !!

Kayte said...

Your whole tart looks perfect, especially that shell. I need lessons on that tart shell thing. I had to let the ganache sit in frig for a longer time as well. I am wondering if it b/c Dorie might have a 0 frig...I don't, so that might make a difference in timing. I did let it get to room temp b/f trying to slice, it was difficult getting through the caramel layer otherwise. This was a big big hit here...Top 5...LOL. Yours looks absolutely perfect.

Amanda said...

Of course your photos are gorgeous Nancy, they always are :) Looks fabulous! I actually added the extra ganache to the top of mine 15-20 minutes into the chilling time, worked perfectly. I have to do that with my French Silk Pie too, otherwise it would never fit!

vibi said...

I'm not sure it makes my toes tingle, but they sure curled! LOL LOL

Very nice alternative to have switched to pecan... think I would have enjoyed it even more that way!

Beautiful.

myfamousrecipe said...

Yes, this deserves rave reviews. I'm getting more comfortable with caramel these days, but it was so helpful to have the temperature reading. I loved the salt, caramel, nuts, and chocolate combination!

Mary Ann said...

I love your pictures! So pretty- they make me wish I had made the full tart. I bet it tasted great with pecans. Yum.
Your taster comments are the best.
absolutely lovely, Nancy!

spike. said...

Great reviews from the book group! Looks beautiful

Tracey said...

Great pictures Nancy! Your tart is gorgeous, especially your perfect shell! It seems that a number of us are still wary of making caramel (me included) so I was really glad Dorie's method was not too fussy. I'm glad the tart was such a hit with the book club. Your substitutions sound delicious - salted caramel and chocolate are an amazing combo!

TeaLady said...

Fantastic looking tart. I like the idea of maca nuts and toffee bits.

This one is definitely a keeper and yes, I do have extra ganache in the fridge, just waiting....

Kim said...

It looks perfect and delicious. I must agree with your book group. This made the toes tingle.

chocolatechic said...

Beauiful.

Megan said...

Lucky you - high praise all around!

Didn't quite happen that way at my house, but oh well.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Gorgeous! The pecans were a great idea, I love the photo with the dripping caramel. Mmmm...

Jeannette said...

absolutely beautiful!! i was wanting to sub pecans and i'm glad it worked well!!

my ganache was a bit soft as well... even after an 8 hour chill. but that might be baker error. *shrugs* and my caramel was dark and barely there. i feel like the ganache overpowered it.

Valerie said...

Wish I were in your book group!!! Too perfect with that combo of pecans, chocolate AND caramel.

Leslie said...

Fabulous! I did a caramel tutorial a couple weeks back, but you sure don't need any help! I wish I hadn't added as much ganache as I did because the chocolate flavor won out over the caramel. I agree with Mike, your tart shell is perfection!

Shandy said...

Your tart looks delicious and perfect! The pecans are a great alternative and I am glad that I was not the only one thinking the caramel tasted more of smokey toffee.

Jules Someone said...

Yours looks amazing! I might just have to try the caramel now...

Cathy said...

Every component of your tart looks fabulous! So glad thus was such a runaway hit with book group! Love that enthusiastic praise. Sadly, my tart did not make my toes tingle, but yours sure looks like it would!

Pamela said...

Nancy, I just love your very helpful and informative posts. When I had lots of left over ganache, I thought of you and tossed it in the freezer! Thanks for your help! I'm glad this gorgeous tart was such a big success for you!

jillbert said...

Hi again Nancy - thank you for the information on the mini tart pans!

Katrina said...

Ooh, the pecans sound de-lish! And your tart looks so good! I wasn't able to make this--YET! Trying for a two for 1 next week. Thanks for all your notes on it, always so helpful!

margot said...

Beautiful job, Nancy; your tart looks amazing. I'm glad you and your tasters liked it as much as I did. I really liked the skillet method for making caramel too, maybe one day it won't be a totally intimidating task.

Rachel said...

Wow - congrats! Your caramel looks beautiful!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

looks fabulous...from the beautiful fluted crust to the caramel-covered pecans!

Eliana said...

This art looks awesome. I especially love the photo of the single slice with the oozing caramel.

Karen said...

mmmm love the thought of toffee in this. maybe next time. Glad everyone liked it! :) Beautiful photos!

Carol Peterman said...

I loved this one too! Yours looks so fantastic. I never even put mine in the fridge. When I read your comment about Dorie being specific about chilling for 30 minutes, I remembered reading that in the recipe, but obviously forgot all about during assembly. Thankfully mine set without the chill time.

doughmesstic said...

I can't for the life of me make a tart shell that perfect...you did a great job! And the caramel? Good gravy.

Debinhawaii said...

What a gorgeous tart--love the salted pecans--I'm sure it made it extra decadent.

Maria said...

Looks like a winner to me!

AmyRuth said...

Sounds like your tasters just loved your magic. Way to go. I was thinking about your pan comment. You can candy coat nuts the same way. You probably already do this, but when the sugar is sort of melted throw in your fav salad nuts and stir them around a bit til they are coated. Then pour out on waxed paper til cool, break them up and sprinkle on your fav salad. yummo I think your tart is fab. I loved it too.
AmyRuth

Di said...

Sounds like this was quite a hit! I really enjoyed the cashews in mine, but I'd like to try it again with pecans. They're one of my favorites, too.

Sara Tea said...

this looks to die for!!! how wonderful!