If you follow me on Instagram, you might have picked up on the fact that I'm a Donna Hay fangirl.
I got my first DH cookbook in 2002, when I was 15. I now have 8 of her big cookbooks, and 2 of her little 'Simple Essential' ones. I've told D that if he's ever stuck for a gift idea, I'm always stoked to increase my collection. I really should do an inventory for him...
Anyway, recently I treated myself to her 2014 release: The New Easy.
So of course I've been slowly cooking my way through it over the past two months.
Except I haven't. As with most of the cookbooks I own, I've made one recipe from this book, 3 times in the past month. Because I'm logical like that.
The recipe that caught my eye was her Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart on page 183. It's a rework of her Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart recipe, which you can find on her website.
As I'm such a huge fan, I do hope she'll forgive me for potentially breaching copyright and reproducing one of her recipes here. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery Donna, so please just know that I want to be you when I grow up.
Anyway, I actually have a few tips on how to execute this tart. Yes, it's easy, but it's not impossible to stuff up. As I found out on attempt number 2. My notes are in brackets and bold.
So here goes.
150g unsalted butter, softened
110g icing sugar
1/3 cup dutch cocoa powder
225g plain flour
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I like Queens vanilla bean paste from Coles/Woolworths).
sea salt, to serve
180ml of pouring cream
90g unsalted butter
330g caster sugar
125ml of water
125 ml pouring cream
125g dark chocolate, chopped. (I like Lindt dark cooking chocolate, Green & Blacks of Lindt 70% eating chocolate for this recipe).
Preheat oven to 180C. Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and process until pale and creamy. Add the cocoa, flour, egg and vanilla, process to a smooth dough.
Press into the base and sides of a 26cm loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin to 5mm thick. (I like to spray the tart tin with cooking spray for an easy removal!) Trim the edges and refrigerate until firm (I stuck mine in the freezer for 5 - 10 minutes, because I'm impatient).
Prick the dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked. (The second time I baked this, I undercooked the pastry and it had no 'snap'. Underwhelming. Make sure that it is smelling toasty, but hasn't burnt. This took about 20 minutes in my oven). Set aside the tart shell.
To make the caramel filling, put the butter and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until melted. (I nuked mine on medium heat in the microwave in a Pyrex jug). Set aside.
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over low head and stir until the sugar has dissolved. (Scrape down the sugar off the sides of the saucepan as you go so it doesn't stick and crystallise). Increase the heat and boil without stirring until dark golden and the mixture reaches 170C on a sugar thermometer. (I don't have a sugar thermometer, so I lived on the edge and watched it like a helicopter Mum, terrified it would burn. It didn't, and all 3 times it's been dead easy and fab).
Take the golden sugar mixture off the head and pour in the cream and butter mixture. (Whisk like hell as it bubbles up). Return the pan to low heat and stir for 5 minutes or until thickened. (I like to time this as otherwise I end up doing it for 10 minutes plus as I can never be quite sure it's thick enough).
Pour into pastry shell and refrigerate until firm. (If you're short on time, whack it in the freezer, worked for me!)
To make the glaze, place the cream in a saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and refrigerate until firm. Sprinkle with salt and cut into wedges to serve.
Ironically, the glaze and salting are the stages I've stuffed up the most. Yup, the easiest part. The first time I made this for a friend's birthday in April, I whisked the crap out of the glaze and it split. There's a video of it on my Instagram. The fat from the chocolate rose to the surface, and although I sorta thought it would be fine, it really wasn't. I made the error of pouring it on to the caramel filling, and as it set in the fridge, there were ribbons of solidified fat sitting on top of the tart. Gross! Luckily it scraped off really easily without distrubing the caramel and I was able to do it again.
My tips are to be gentle with the chocolate and cream. Especially if you are using high quality eating chocolate. I actually have been doing the glaze over a double boiler since this incident and it works out perfectly, with little room for error. So, chop your chocolate as fine as you can be bothered to, and gently heat the cream in a glass bowl over simmering water in a saucepan. Do not let the bowl touch the water. If you don't have a compatible pyrex bowl and saucepan, you can use a glass quiche dish to sit on top of the simmering water saucepan. Looks weird, but the heat is totally sealed off and gently heats the cream. Once the cream is hot, you can pour your chocolate shards in and stir gently. You can even turn off the heat at this stage, as the residual heat in the cream should be sufficient. This can also help you avoid overworking the ganache.
The OTHER way I stuffed this tart was by oversalting. This version of the recipe calls for just a sprinkle of sea salt flakes right before serving. Being the smartarse I am, I thought it'd be better if I salted the caramel too. Which would have been okay, except I sprinkled salt on top of the ganache HOURS prior to serving. The salt all melted away as the tart sat at room temperature and lost the decorative element.
So after umpteen champagnes and a few espresso martinis at my girlfriend's 30th, I re-salted the damn tart before I presented it, didn't I!?!?
NOTE: SALT IS NOT A DECORATION.
It was too salty. We were mostly too drunk to care, and a good quality vanilla ice-cream to accompany would certainly help if you accidentally do this...but it's far from ideal. Avoid my mistakes and salt JUST before you plan to serve this baby.
And that's it! Beautiful Donna's Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart. Enjoy, and if you make it please upload to instagram with the hashtags #donnahay and tag me @brisbane_foodie!
My first attempt at the tart was better than the second!
You know you've made it when Donna Hay likes your photo of your attempt at her tart on Instagram! How cool is that?