Milk Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Hazelnuts and Espresso

They had me at caramel!

I’m trying to get used to Bon Appétit as a replacement for Gourmet and, sadly, it has not quite happened.  Every now and then, however, I am surprised by a recipe that I must try.

This month it was the Milk Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Hazelnuts and Espresso, a dessert that speaks to two of my weaknesses – caramel and coffee-flavored anything.  Check out the description:  This delicious tart has a buttery shortbread crust, a rich hazelnut-caramel filling, a creamy espresso-chocolate topping, and a sprinkling of crunchy cacao nibs (pieces of roasted cacao beans).  Amazing, right?

Instead of one large tart, however, I busted out the tartlet pans from overstock and got to work.  I halved the recipe which then yielded four mini tartlets – two for Valentine’s Day and the other two for, well, the day after Valentine’s Day.  Oh, and because I’m also crazy for Maldon salt, I added a few flakes to the top of the tartlets.

Milk Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Hazelnuts and Espresso

Milk Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Hazelnuts and Espresso

Bon Appétit, February 2009 by Rochelle Palermo

Crust:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon (or more) ice water

Filling:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted , husked, coarsely chopped

Topping:

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

4  ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt, Perugina, or Valrhona), chopped

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon cacao nibs – (bits of shell-roasted cacao beans; available at many specialty foods stores and from chocosphere.com)

Special equipment: 1 13 3/4 x 4 1/2-inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom

Instructions:

For crust:

Blend flour, powdered sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1 tablespoon ice water; process just until dough begins to clump together, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Transfer dough to 13 3/4 x 4 1/2-inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake crust until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan on rack.

For filling:

Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is medium amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble up). Place saucepan over medium heat; stir until caramel bits dissolve. Add butter, vinegar, and salt; stir until butter melts. Stir in hazelnuts. Spoon filling into crust. Chill until cold and set, about 30 minutes.

For topping:

Combine cream and espresso powder in small saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until espresso powder is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over caramel. Sprinkle with cacao nibs. Chill tart until topping is set, about 1 hour. 

Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Remove tart pan sides. Place tart on platter; cut crosswise into 8 bars and serve.

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Filed under Pies and Tarts, Sweet

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