Saturday, December 5, 2009

chocolate crunched caramel tart - for the birthday girl

chocolate crunched caramel tart - 36My friend's birthday was nearing, so I asked her what her favorite flavors/ingredients were so I could bake her something special. From what I got out of her text messages, she liked chocolate, caramel, and nuts. Luckily for me, typing those three things into Google I got TWD's Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart. Looking through others' pictures of this pie, I immediately fell in love. It was a pie crust made in a tart pan (giving it the cute fluted edges), with a layer of caramel and nuts, and then with a final layer of thick chocolate ganache on top. It looked so decadent and delicious that I couldn't help but have to make it. (Also, since my boyfriend doesn't care for chocolate that much- this was another excuse to bake something he wouldn't eat otherwise.)

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The first layer is obviously the crust. I didn't use Dorie's crust recipe- as it was a typical crust which needed cold butter, cold water, etc. I just wasn't ready to make something this temperamental, especially when it is for someone's birthday and I obviously couldn't chance a mishap. So I used Joy of Baking's Sweet Pastry Crust which I used for the Strawberry Tart I made for Thanksgiving. It was an easy recipe with easy directions. BUT- as I was rushing and attempting to get my other ingredients ready for the caramel, I clumsily forgot to line it with aluminum foil and add the pie weights. I was so angry once I realized this. The pie obviously shrunk, and the edges were slightly burned. Also, there were some craters and bulges on the bottom, although they weren't too bad since I poked it with the fork first.

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The next layer was the caramel- homemade caramel nonetheless. Being that I'm terrified of hot and bubbly things, my handy boyfriend replaced me for the stirring part. I poured all the ingredients and followed the recipe thoroughly, while he stood in front of me and protected me from the scorching caramel. For my first try, it came out surprisingly good. I've heard scary stories about peoples' first tries at making caramel- which has always made me hesitant to try. It turned out much better than I thought, and I even caught my boyfriend dipping his finger in for a taste.

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Now time to add the nuts. While Dorie used roasted peanuts, all I had on hand were walnuts. Pouring it into the pie crust was a little hard, mostly because the nuts made it hard to spread.

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And then the chocolate ganache layer- my absolute favorite. I kept eating all the morsels that I had to re-measure the chocolate a few times.

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Although this looks gross and yellowish, it was absolutely delicious (blame the yellow shade on the lighting). After I poured it into the pan to firm up, I licked the entire bowl and the spatula.

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The following morning, this was the beautiful tart I pulled out from the fridge!

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Look at the shiny gloss on this bad boy.

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Yeah the edges are still burnt, the tart is uneven, some of the chocolate spilled over, and I still have no idea what it looked like in the middle- But I was still proud of my baby.

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What to do with leftover royal icing? Write!

So we went to the city for her birthday dinner- a double date of course. The dinner was great, so was the dessert- but we still somehow had room for the tart when we reached home. The lighting is once again erking me, but I have no other photos.

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See how the ganache is firm enough that it doesn't fall, yet soft enough that it drips over the caramel. Yumm.. and the specks of nuts in the caramel were the right amount of crunch.

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TWD, from Chocolate Moosey, recipe here.

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