Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart with Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts
So the other day I had some free time on my hands, which is typically the case when you’re fun-employed in Italy…
Like most days, I started my morning by going to CrossFit, drinking a coffee, showering, and making a trip to the Mercato Centrale… Which, by the way, has become quite an enjoyable experience. Louie and I made friends with our butcher and whenever we see him, he gives Louie free scraps and bones and cheers me on when I ask or say something in Italian… I would imagine his name is Enzo, but one could never be too sure. Once I got home at around 2:00PM, I was contemplating what to do for the next three hours until I had to start preparing dinner. Like a respectable citizen of society, I could use those next few hours to practice my Italian OR I could pick up some hazelnuts and bamboo skewers and master the art of Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts… I think we all know what the obvious choice was here.
I feel like my desserts sometimes lack the “WOW” decorative factor and these little hazelnuts definitely add some “WOW.” Once I made the caramel, the rest was pretty fool-proof– poke, dip, and dry. Thanks to Martha Stewart, bless that woman. But afterwards I was left with 25+ Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts and no dessert to add some “WOW” to.
Now my wheels were really turning and I started to brainstorm which showstopper dessert I could waste the afternoon with… Since these are Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts, there obviously had to be caramel involved and something that goes well with hazelnuts… Chocolate, yes. But, a chocolate, caramel, and hazelnut what?
Cue in tarts. A crispy cookie crust with layers of salted caramel, smooth and creamy chocolate ganache, and toasted hazelnuts for an additional crunch factor. It’s decadent, silky, gooey, salty, crispy, and crunchy all in one bite. It’s prettttty much every food adjective you could want in a dessert, hence making it a showstopper dessert on its own… And then you add Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts?! Wow is the word.
I wish I could say I only had one bite of this rich and decadent dessert and then I was done with it… But that would be a flat out lie. I was feeling very proud of myself after I only had one bite during my little photo shoot, but then later that day I ate about a quarter of the tart… all the while standing up in my kitchen and adding the extra Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts to every bite… Nothing goes to waste in this kitchen!
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons water
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
10 hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
- To make the tart shell, cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt. On low speed, add in flour mixture, ¼ cup at a time, and mix until dough comes together. Shape dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a ¼-inch thick. Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Freeze for 30 minutes. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes.
- To make the caramel, heat the heavy cream over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil and set aside. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted in the syrup reads 375 degrees F. Remove man from heat and slowly whisk in cream until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell, sprinkle hazelnuts over caramel, and refrigerate until firm.
- To make the chocolate ganache, place chocolate morsels in a large non-reactive bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat cream until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let chocolate and cream mixture sit for 3 minutes. With a wooden spoon, begin stirring small circles in the middle of the bowl. As the smooth mixture begins to form in the middle, slowly expand the size of the circle until the cream and chocolate is fully incorporated. Let ganache cool for 5 minutes and slowly pour the ganache over the caramel and refrigerate until firm.
- To make the caramel-dipped hazelnuts, gently insert pointed end of a long wooden skewer into the side of each hazelnut. Place a cutting board along the edge of a countertop; place newspaper on the floor, directly under cutting board.
- Prepare an ice-water bath. Heat sugar and the water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Stop stirring; cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Continue to boil, gently swirling occasionally, until medium amber. Plunge pan into ice bath to stop the cooking; let stand until thickened, about 10 minutes. (To test: Dip a skewer in caramel and lift a few inches; if a thick drip slowly forms and holds a string, the caramel is ready.)
- Dip a skewered hazelnut into caramel, letting excess drip back into pan. When dripping syrup becomes a thin string, secure opposite end of skewer under cutting board. Repeat with remaining hazelnuts. (If caramel hardens before all hazelnuts have been dipped, rewarm it over low heat.) Let stand until caramel string has hardened, about 5 minutes; break each string to desired length. Carefully remove skewers. Candied hazelnuts should be used the same day; store, uncovered, at room temperature until ready to serve tart.
- To serve tart, sprinkle with sea salt and garnish with candied hazelnuts prior to serving.