Dark Chocolate & Walnut Caramel Tartlets

10/29/12

Dark Chocolate & Walnut Caramel Tartlets | une gamine dans la cuisine

Happy Monday! And to my East coast friends who are about to ride out the Frankenstorm, please be careful. (And remember to stock up on the essentials...batteries, blankets, pet supplies, cookies, brownies, and rum!)

Can you believe that Halloween is this Wednesday already?! I love Halloween. I just wish that we could relish the autumn season a little bit longer instead of having to run face-first into a barrage of holiday paraphernalia. As soon as Halloween is over it's a crazy-mad race until the end of December.

I still want to be enveloped by shades of orange, and russet, and earthy browns. And I want to inhale the smoky scent of burning leaves, spiced apple cider, and warm cinnamon-sugar doughnuts. My finger-less Oliver Twist gloves are not ready for retirement. Nor is my desire to bake with pumpkin, and butterscotch, and caramel.

Yes, caramel is an ingredient for all seasons. But it's sultry-burnt flavour will always procure swirling images of falling leaves and cadet blue skies tinged with a smoldering, hazy sun.

Dark Chocolate & Walnut Caramel Tartlets | une gamine dans la cuisine

A few years ago the Tuesdays with Dorie crew made Dorie's chocolate-crunched caramel tart. It was exquisite! I used that particular recipe as a springboard for these tartlets.

I swapped the sweet tart shell with a graham cracker crust, switched from peanuts to walnuts, tossed a little bit more salt into everything, and raised the intensity of my caramel by allowing it to cook longer. The results were deadly in their decadence. ;)

The diminutive size of these tartlets is perfect. They're rich, luxurious, and seductive. Anything this indulgent should only be enjoyed in small doses. Trust me.

And please don't be intimated by the recipe. There are a lot of components, but each one is quite simple.

Dark Chocolate & Walnut Caramel Tartlets | une gamine dans la cuisine

Also, I am still planning on holding a giveaway. I know I promised that it would be in October, but with my autumn to-do list nipping at my heels, I have not been able to get around to it yet. Apologies. Keep your eyes open in November. (The cookbook has already arrived!) XO

Dark Chocolate & Walnut Caramel Tartlets | une gamine dans la cuisine

Dark Chocolate & Walnut Caramel Tartlets
makes five 4-inch tartlets

for the crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces (that's 3/4 of a stick) unsalted butter, melted

for the caramel
Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

for the ganache
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature

prepare the crust
Lightly coat five 4-inch tartlet pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and mix until well combined. (You should be left with a wet, sandy mixture.) For each tartlet pan, measure out a rounded 1/4 cup of the crumb mixture. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of each pan. If needed, use the back of a Tablespoon to help pack it down firmly. {Note: You may have some crust mixture leftover, and that's okay. You can use the extra for sprinkling on top of the ganache!}

Place the tartlet shells onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Leave the shells on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the sheet onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before filling.

prepare the caramel
Bring the heavy cream to a boil.

Meanwhile, put a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat and sprinkle in about 3 tablespoons of the sugar. When it melts, stir it with a wooden spatula or fork and sprinkle over another 3 tablespoons. When that sugar is melted, add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar – the sugar in the pan may already have started to color, and that’s fine. Stir in the corn syrup and boil the syrup until it reaches a deep caramel color – it will probably begin to smoke, and that’s normal.

Stand back and stir in the butter. The caramel will bubble furiously and may spatter, so make sure you’re away from the action. When the butter is in, add the warm cream – the caramel will bubble furiously again. Lower the temperature just a tad and let the caramel boil for just 2 minutes (226F on candy thermometer). Pour the seething caramel into the heatproof bowl and set aside while you make the ganache. {Note: As the caramel is cooling, give it stir every now and then.}

prepare the ganache
Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and have a whisk or a rubber spatula at hand.

Bring the cream to a boil. Then pour half of it over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Working with the whisk/spatula, very gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles. Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate. When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir any more than you must to blend the ingredients – the less you work it, the darker, smoother and shinier it will be.

Cover the ganache with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface to create an airtight seal. Set aside at room temperature for about 40 minutes.

Assemble!
Give the caramel a quick stir to loosen it up (it should be at room temp.). Stir in the walnuts. Divide the caramel evenly among the five baked tartlet shells. Use a small off-set spatula to gently spread it into an even layer.

When the ganache has cooled and thickened slightly, divide it among the tartlets. Spread it over the caramel-nut mixture.

Refrigerate the shells until the ganache has set, about 30 minutes. {Note: I prefer ganache while it's still soft and silky! So the tartlets can also be devoured immediately.}

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan

36 comments:

Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious said...

Amazing! You've definitely made my Monday better with these gorgeous tartlets!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Heavenly! Walnuts, caramel and chocolate: simply irresistible.

Cheers,

Rosa

Grandbabycakes said...

This looks like absolute decadence. Sinfully good!!! And perfect for Halloween or any day really.

Averie @ Averie Cooks said...

they look awesome, and I just posted a multi-stage recipe and although it can look a little daunting from the outset, once you get going, it's not bad - and love that you presented these straightfoward and in an approachable way - b/c I'd like to approach them :)

Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming said...

yumm all things that i love in one cute tarlet!

Patty said...

Pretty pictures! I agree that our Fall season passes quickly after Halloween- I don't like to let it go either...
I can imagine a bite of your heavenly mini tarts and its a good one;-)

Carol | a cup of mascarpone said...

Loving these tartlets, Val! The graham cracker crust is such a delicious compliment with the chocolate and caramel!

Beth said...

Your tartlets are adorable. I haven't made Dorie's caramel tart, but I know people swooned over that one. And caramel is perfect any time of year, but it really does fit fall, doesn't it?

Emilie said...

holy f.ck, my mouth is watering !

Laura (Tutti Dolci) said...

These tartlets look absolutely divine, I'd love to dig into one right now! Do you deliver to Italy? ;)

Jean said...

Adorable tartlets! And they look so decadent and rich. Mmm, I am so hungry for chocolate now! ;-)

Anna @ Hidden Ponies said...

Now I want some cute little tartlet pans :) Caramel is always a hit in my house.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

My favourite sweet flavours - chocolate and caramel and all together in a tart - heaven! I would have to make them even smaller - calories are my enemy right now.

Mercedes said...

These look so lovely! What a great combination of flavors and textures.

Lemons and Anchovies said...

One of my all-time favorite desserts is also a tart that has the same components of yours here--I know I would love yours. Now I need a chocolate-caramel fix!

Dani (andcute) said...

On my food bucket list, for sure. Great photos Valerie!!!

Candice said...

This looks divine!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Love how you bettered up the recipe. We don't have fall here, but I loved it while I was away, the colors truly are amazing. Way better than the OTT red and white everywhere for Christmas, though I do love it for a few days, months of it is just overkill.

Jen Laceda | Tartine and Apron Strings said...

Whatever you call these tartlets, they sure look delicious! They are perfect for fall or winter (hello, christmas - hehe). I'd love to indulge in these :)

Valerie, your food styling is absolutely gorgeous - it's warm and toasty, and an absolute delight to look at! Great job! Looking forward to more "autumn-themed" posts!

The Food Hound said...

Um, I'm kind of speechless. Every component of these is AMAZING from the crust to the ganache! Well worth the time, indeed!!

Carrian Cheney said...

oh my sweet deliciousness! The photos are beautiful!! How in the world can I create that pretty, glowy look? :(

Savory Simple said...

Such a gorgeous tart!

www.you-made-that.com said...

Love everything about this tart, I am so in love with caramel too. I think that we should relish more of Autumn and not rush into the holidays as well.

Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet } said...

This is an amazing tart! Anything with caramel is a winner. Lovely photos!!! Pinning now.

Jenn Kendall said...

these are gorgeous - simply gorgeous! absolutely perfect for fall :)

Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts said...

Girl, you are killing me here - amazing! Drooling, all that caramel and chocolate - yum!

Barbara said...

Valerie, those are dense and delicious! I love the graham cracker crust...unusual in a chocolate tart.

Angry Asian said...

happy november, can you believe october is gone already?
these are gorgeous, how do you stop at just one?

Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks said...

Valerie, these tarts are absolutely beautiful. Hope you have a great November!

A Canadian Foodie said...

OMG - Valerie!!! You are becoming - have become - quite the professional baker and photographer. I almost broke my computer screen with my face when I saw these tarts. I LOVE THESE!!
GORGEOUS!
Standing O!
:)
V

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

I'm loving this recipe so much..tarts are my weakness!

Magic of Spice said...

These tartlets are sheer exquisiteness! These would make me happy any time of year but I do love the seasonal qualities :)

Renay said...

I made these delicious tarts over the weekend to surprise my guests with individual deserts and they were a HUGE hit!! Yummy!

Valerie said...

@Renay, Thanks for letting me know! I love to hear how recipes turn out. :D

Kristy @ the wicked noodle said...

I wish you knew how many times in the past week and a half I've been to this post, intending to comment, only to be distracted by something. These are just the most gorgeous little tarts I've ever seen! Your vintage-style photography is just stunning, V.

Gazebos said...

I told my mum to try this. She will make it this weekend and I suggest her to put Piece of cherry on top. I guess it will look nice.

 

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