Saturday, December 4, 2010

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Crostata

Here it is, my third and final crostata. I had so much fun with this particular Daring Bakers’ challenge! And I think that this is the best one yet. I even had a slice for breakfast! There is something about eating a decadent chocolate tart at eight o’clock in the morning. Really fuels you up for the rest of the day!


Looking at the recipe for this dessert you would expect to be in the kitchen for quite some time. In fact, I had this crostata on the plate in two hours. From flour to delicious in the time it takes to watch a movie! Don’t be scared of this recipe. The words caramel and ganache tend to do that to people. I know I was a little concerned when this idea came to my mind. I have never made caramel before. I have never made ganache before. Plus, I would have to blind bake the crust. All together this makes for one fancy-sounding dessert.


I decided to stop being such a pansy about my recipes. We’ve discussed this before, I’m a chemist. I handle chemicals on a daily basis that have the ability to spontaneously light on fire, burn through my $200 jeans or cause damage to my DNA. Making caramel should be a breeze, right? In fact, it was. And you will love it.

Look at that caramel ooze!
 Don’t worry about how fancy it sounds, you can handle it. I know, I had to talk myself into trying this, but you can do it too. Just be sure to read through the recipe before you start. Gather up your courage, put on your big-boy pants and get ready to do some chemistry. Some delicious, delicious chemistry.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Crostata


Either you can juggle all three components at one time, as I did or you can make all three components ahead of time and bring together when you have the time! Simply reheat the caramel in a saucepan and reheat the ganache over a double-boiler. If you choose to make it all in one night, you will do the following… 1. Make pasta frollo 2. Make caramel and allow to cool as you 3. Bake off the pastry 4. Make ganache as shell bakes 5. Unite all components.

Chocolate Pasta Frollo


I’ve listed the ingredients for the crust in grams (Non-Americans rejoice!). Sorry, I had a long day in the lab and it made sense at the time. If you have a food scale then simply switch the mode to grams. Just know that my volumetric measurements are a rough estimate. Again, sorry.

170 g (1 c + 3 tbsp) flour
30g (1/4 c) cocoa powder
74 g (2/3 cup) powdered sugar
Dash of salt
115 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 egg plus one egg yolk, lightly beaten

In the food processor whir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and powdered sugar. Add butter and pulse until the butter the size of peas. Pour onto your countertop and make a well in the middle. Pour eggs in the middle of the well and start to mix together with a fork. Once the eggs start to get incorporated, start kneading and mixing by hand. Wrap your completed dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Heat oven to 350 F. Remove from fridge and turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to ¼-inch thick and transfer to a tarte pan (or pie pan). Line tart pan (or pie pan) with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or dry beans or rice). Bake shell for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove parchment paper and weights from the shell. Return shell to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool, remove from the pan.

Salted Caramel

1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 tsp white vinegar
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ tsp coarse salt of your choice

In a small saucepan combine sugar, water and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Swirl the pan to dissolve the sugar. Continue boiling until sugar turns dark amber in color. Remove from the heat and slowly pour in heavy cream. Be careful, the mixture will bubble up! Return to the heat and cook for another 5 minutes, whisking the whole time. Add salt and stir. Remove from heat and allow to cool, caramel will thicken as it cools.

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp honey
¼ tsp coarse salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium pot, combine heavy cream, honey and salt. Bring to a boil (be sure not to forget about it and let it boil over, like some people did…). Pour heavy cream mixture over chocolate pieces and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk and whisk until smooth, add vanilla and whisk to combine. Allow to cool until it is slightly thickened.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Crostata


Pour cooled caramel into pastry shell. Place in the freezer for ten minutes to set the caramel. Pour chocolate ganache over caramel. Put your crostata in the fridge and allow ganache to set completely. I let mine chill overnight. Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve!
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