Crunchy, buttery pastry. Creamy salty-sweet caramel. Melt-in-the-mouth dark chocolate ganache. The three elements that make up this perfectly decadent chocolate tart. Well, I say its perfect but it does have one flaw…  all the setting time required before you can actually eat a slice! So if you are planning to serve this as a show-stopping after dinner dessert, then best you get cracking with it in the morning.

This salted caramel recipe is the by far the best one I have tried. If you haven’t made caramel before then don’t be scared to give it a go. The trick is not to stir the sugar/water mixture at all, as tempting as it may be. (And don’t go sticking your fingers in for a taste! It gets incredibly hot.) Then knowing when to remove the caramel from the heat and add the cream is the other trick. You want the caramel to be a lovely golden brown but don’t let it go too far or you will be left with a burnt taste. Once you have mastered that timing, you’ll be making caramel again and again. The sauce on its own is fantastic to pour over ice-cream (*sugar coma*) or dip short bread into… (or spread it on your toast… eat it with a spoon… you get the picture.)
Just look at the gooey caramel sauce oozing onto the plate. Its begging you to eat it!
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Ingredients:
 (Makes a 36cm x 12cm rectangular tart)
Almond Chocolate Pastry:
160g flour
35g ground almonds
30g unsweetened cocoa powder
50g sugar
pinch of salt
110g cold butter, cut into small cubes
5ml vanilla extract
1 egg
15-30ml ice water

Salted Caramel:
300g white sugar
125ml water
125ml cream
70g unsalted butter
5ml salt

Chocolate Ganache:
125ml heavy cream
120g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
sea salt crystals to garnish

Method:
  • Prepare the sweet pastry. In a large bowl mix flour with ground almonds, sifted cocoa powder, sugar and salt.
  • Incorporate butter into the flour mixture, using a food processor, or rub in with your fingertips until crumbs are formed. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix them in. Add  just enough iced water to incorporate into a firm dough.
  • Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  • On a floured surface or over the plastic wrap roll the dough to a rectangle about 3cm larger than your tart pan. It should be rolled quite thinly otherwise you will end up with a thick base. Lift up the rolled dough and place it in a greased tart pan (I used a rectangular loose-bottomed tin, 36 x 12 cm and had a little pastry leftover). Remove the edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.
  • Prick the dough with a fork, line a parchment paper over the dough. Fill with dry beans, rice or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated 180°C oven. Remove the weights and the parchment paper. Return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from the tart pan.
  • Prepare the caramel (this is the fun bit!). Place the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook without stirring until sugar dissolves and gets a caramel colour.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream. It will bubble a little bit.
  • Cook for about 1 or 2 minutes stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from heat and add butter and salt. Stir well until smooth.
  • Let the caramel cool slightly and pour over the chocolate crust. Refrigerate for about 4-5 hours.
  • Prepare the chocolate ganache. Heat the cream in a small saucepan. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth.
  • Pour the chocolate ganache over the set caramel. Spread it evenly and refrigerate for another 2-3 hours before serving (the final bit of patience required!). Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve.

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