In general, I’m pretty good at sharing. In fact, I think I could be called generous in most respects. But not when it comes to dessert. Particularly when that dessert involves chocolate. Whenever my husband and I go out to dinner and decide to indulge in dessert, we usually split something. But the more chocolate it involves, the less inclined I am to share. When it’s chocolate mousse, I don’t even try to pretend. I’m ordering that all on my own.

But there is definitely something to be said for sharing desserts. The obvious is at least some semblance of portion control, but also the joy in the experience of sharing with someone you love. Joking over who will get the last bite (he always leaves it for me…he’s a good one). These chocolate caramel tartlets are a great dessert for sharing because one is definitely too much to eat solo but when split with someone else, it’s just right.

If you’re making a special Valentine meal rather than going out, this is a fabulous dessert option because it can be made in advance and keeps very well. The recipe as written here makes enough for six tarlets, so consider sharing the tartlet love amongst your friends so they can enjoy with their special someone. I think a set of tartlet pans is a second-tier kitchen must-have. Like, you don’t really have to have it, but I promise if you have them, you’ll find tons of uses for them. If you would rather make this as a full size tart, you may need to scale back the ingredients slightly, though I haven’t tested a full size version so I can’t say for sure.

Here’s to chocolate and to sharing!

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
By Annie
Makes 6 tartlets

Ingredients:

For dough:

1½ cups flour
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For caramel layers:
12 ounces soft caramel candies, unwrapped, divided
2½ tablespoons heavy cream, divided
For chocolate filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:

To make dough, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt in medium bowl; stir with fork to blend. Add cubes of butter to bowl with dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients using pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal and small pieces of butter remain. Add egg yolk, vanilla and heavy cream, and stir with a fork until dough comes together. Knead very briefly, handling as little as possible, until dough has an even consistency. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to about ¼-inch thickness or slightly thinner. Cut rounds large enough to fully line mini tart pans (4-inches in diameter, at least 1 inch high), about 6 inches in diameter. Line pans with dough, pressing into edges of pans to fill fluted portions. Trim away excess dough. Line each crust with small piece of foil and fill with baking beads (dry rice or beans will also work).

Place tart pans on baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake about 18 minutes, until mostly set. Reduce oven temperature to 375˚F, remove foil and baking beads. Return tart shells to oven and bake for 5 minutes more. Transfer tart shells to wire rack to cool completely (leave in pans).

To make bottom caramel layer, combine 9 ounces of caramels with 2 tablespoons cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between, until mixture is fully melted and smooth. (Alternatively, this can be done in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.) Divide caramel mixture between tart shells, pouring an even layer to cover the bottom of each shell. Transfer pans to refrigerator or freezer and chill until caramel layer is set, about 30 minutes.

Place chocolate in heatproof bowl. Bring cream to simmer in microwave or saucepan. Pour hot cream and corn syrup over chopped chocolate and let stand about 2 minutes. Whisk together until smooth ganache forms. Whisk in butter until completely incorporated and mixture is totally smooth. In another small bowl, combine remaining 3 ounces of caramels and remaining 1½ teaspoons cream. Microwave in short intervals (it may only take one) until fully melted and smooth. Divide chocolate mixture between tartlet shells, pouring an even layer over caramel. Immediately top each with three small dots of caramel. Use toothpick or skewer to marble in heart pattern. Refrigerate until fully set, at least 2 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel.

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