It’s been a while since I have posted something. My last post was in the middle of summer and as I’m writing today’s post I feel very autumnal indeed. We actually had a mini heat wave in August so my free time was spent making the most of all the gorgeous rays. As much as I love summer though, I have a particular soft spot for autumn. It’s such a glorious season. The colours of the leaves, the golden mornings with everything drenched in caramel hues ….bliss. And what a great feeling it is being all cozy in a soft jumper. I don’t think I could ever live anywhere without seasons.
Once the weather cools I also start getting into the mood to bake things. Gone are the days where it seems acceptable to offer fruit salad as dessert option. Whole fruit, with its fibre intact is great stuff. But it is not dessert. Ever. And the only thing worse than fruit for dessert is fruit served with yoghurt for dessert. It just breaks my heart. So, bring on the cinnamon laced apple cakes, the creamy cheesecakes and the buttery pastries. Autumn calls for a steamy mug of coffee and a slice of something rich and delicious. And this wonderful tart recipe hits the spot: short crust pastry, layered with divine rosemary-infused caramel and topped with dark chocolate mousse. Yum!
I have had this recipe for years, and I don’t even remember where I first found it. It’s a favourite of mine, as it’s relatively easy to make and is a hit with everybody I serve it to.
I will warn you now that butter will be mentioned. A lot. The faint hearted will have to stop reading now. For the rest of you, here’s what you will need to create this delight:
For the sweet short crust pastry
225g all purpose/plain flour (I used type 00 pasta flour)
110g cold butter, cubed
25g fine or caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
A little milk to bind
For the rosemary caramel
175g unsalted butter
1 x 397 tin sweetened condensed milk
4 tbsp golden syrup
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tsp sea salt
For the chocolate topping
140g unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)
8 tbsp cocoa powder
200g golden caster sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
3 tbsp crème fraîche
Pinch of salt
Some whipped cream to serve.
Start by getting your pastry ready. Sift the flour into a large bowl and then flake the butter cubes onto the flour by rubbing it between your fingers. Work the butter into the flour – the mixture should resemble breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, egg and a splash of milk and quickly work the mixture into a dough ball. Try not to overwork it.
Alternatively you can prepare the dough in a food processor by mixing the flour, butter and sugar in the bowl of the processor on a pulse setting. When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add the milk, slowly, through the funnel until the dough comes together in a ball.
(Another alternative would be to use shop bought pastry. Your secret is safe with me.)
Wrap your ball of dough in cling film and place it in the fridge for thirty minutes.
Whilst it’s tempting to start on the other layers while you are waiting for the pastry to chill, don’t do it. Things will get messy. The pastry is chilling, so do the same.
After thirty minutes, grease a loose-bottomed tart case and preheat your oven to 190 Degrees C. Dust a clean work surface with flour, remove your dough from the fridge, unwrap and roll it out on the work surface. Again, try not to overwork it. You don’t want the dough to get too warm before you bake it.
Place the rolled out dough into your tart case, carefully pushing it into the ridges around the side, and prick it a few times with a fork. Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper, large enough to cover the pastry. Pour in baking beans and blind bake your pastry for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Once it’s golden, remove it from the oven, pour the baking beans into a heatproof container (careful, they are hot – and tend to roll away), remove the greaseproof paper and put the pastry back for a few minutes to get it golden and add a nice crunch.
Once your pastry is done, turn the oven down to 180 Degrees C and leave your pastry to cool. Do not remove it from its case!
Now move on to the caramel. Using a large non-stick saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat for a few minutes then add the condensed milk, syrup, rosemary and salt. Keep the heat low and whisk continuously as this can stick/burn easily, so keep an eye on it. Simmer slowly for ten minutes, stirring, until thickened and golden brown.
Strain the caramel mixture through a sieve to remove the rosemary, then spread over the blind-baked tart case.
This will smell amazing, and the temptation is to dip your finger into the caramel. Listen to somebody who has done just that – don’t do it. It’s about a gazillion degrees. Just reserve a bit in a little espresso cup for you to enjoy once it has cooled. It’s worth trying the caramel on its own, it really is. And hard work should be rewarded.
Okay, so now on to the chocolate topping.
Place the butter, chocolate, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and allow to melt slowly. Keep an eye on it!
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until well creamed (I beat the egg whites separately). Add the syrup and crème fraîche.
Cool the chocolate slightly and then stir into the sugar and egg mixture. Pour the mixture into your pastry case, on top of your caramel layer.
There’s a lot there, so be careful not to overfill the pastry case. As with the caramel, reserve some chocolate for the chef. But please remember there are raw eggs in this.
Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. At some point the chocolate will completely balloon, then sink and probably crack. All fine. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
The chocolate has a mousse-like consistency whilst the tart is still fresh. After a few hours (and certainly the following day) it will become more dense. Tastes just as good, though.
I once sprayed the chocolate with gold spray, and that was a pretty effect. You might want to give that a go. Alternatively dust with icing sugar, or simply leave as it is.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and enjoy with a good cup of coffee. Hope you love it as much as I do. Enjoy 🙂
love, lou x