A touch of salt is the perfect balance to the sweet-bitter caramel in this pretty tart.
- 400 g plain flour
- 50 g cocoa
- 300 g cold unsalted butter, chopped
- 150 g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 180 g sugar
- 300 ml whipping cream (35% fat)
- 200 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways and seeds scraped
- 3 g salt
- raspberries, chopped pistachios and edible gold leaf (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time: 2 hours 45 minutes
To make the shortbread, place the flour and cocoa in a mound on your work surface and make a well in the middle. Place the butter in the well and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour. This method is called “sablage” and it is designed to grease the protein in the flour (gluten) that makes a crust hard. Once the butter, flour and cocoa are mixed well, add the sugar and egg yolk and mix together by pushing the dough on the bench with the open palm of your hand until the pastry is homogeneous. Shape into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
Once the shortbread has hardened, break it up and mix it up by hand on your work surface until homogeneous. Alternatively, you can put the chunks of dough into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook with the same result. Make sure you do not over mix the dough- it will get soft very quickly and will lengthen the dough, making it tougher once cooked.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 3 mm thick. You will need to move the dough constantly to stop it from sticking. Use a fork to punch a few holes into the dough -this will allow for any air trapped at the base of your tart to escape without bubbling up the base of your tart. Line the base and sides of a 22 cm tart ring or tart tin with removable base with the pastry, trim the excess with a knife, then place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Line the tart shell with foil, then fill with uncooked rice or baking beads. Bake the tart shell for 10 minutes, the remove the rice and foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is dry. Allow to cool before removing from the ring.
To make the salted caramel ganache, place the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat until the sugar melts and turns into a blonde caramel. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until the caramel begins to foam. Add all the cream at once, keeping your hand well away from the pan as it will bubble up and create a lot of steam. Remove from the heat and stand for 15 minutes or until slightly cooled. Place the chocolate and vanilla bean seeds in heat-proof bowl, then pour over the hot caramel and stir gently until combined. Using hand held electric beaters, beat the mixture until thick and emulsified. You will notice that the ganache will go from a split, oily texture to a beautiful creamy viscosity. Fold the salt in and the ganache is ready to use.
Pour the ganache into the tart shell, allow to cool for 15 minutes or until the ganache thickens. Decorate the top with raspberries, sprinkle with pistachios and edible gold leaf if using, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove the tart from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving, and serve with crème fraiche or ice-cream. Alternatively, top with any tart or tangy fruits, such as passionfruit, rhubarb or pineapple. The tartness of the fruits and the salt will help to balance out the strong chocolate flavour.
Jean Michel Raynaud is Executive pastry chef at La Renaissance Patisserie in The Rocks, Sydney.