Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

As some may or may not know I have a addiction like many others to Masterchef Australia.  Which is weird because I am from the US.  Skipping over that technicality,  let me tell you about the show.  Love, Love, Love it, a little bit of drama, lots of cooking and tons to learn, but what makes me love the show is the camaraderie.  No one is back-stabing another contestant, and when one leaves due to elimination, they are all generally upset and not cheering “that bitch is gone” unlike most if not all american reality shows.

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Mini Fruit Tarts with Berries

I have always wanted to make these, I am very very excited to share and more so happy with my results.  The crème pâtissière is thick and sweet, alone I would say it’s almost too rich.  However with the sour and tart fruit it is a perfect balance.  The flakey pastry crust adds the texture it needs for the most amazing balance.  I would have to say for personal preference, the blueberries and raspberries had the best balance, but the strawberries made it decadent.  I would not omit them by any means.  These would make a beautiful addition to any summer gathering.   The crème pâtissière can be made days in advance, as well as the pastry crust.    Then assemble the day they are needed.

I don’t own mini tart pans so I used a cupcake tin, it actually worked out quite well, just cut 4″ rounds out of the pastry dough and fitted into the tin pan.  Filled with a tiny piece of parchment paper and pie weightes made cute little tarts.    So, don’t think you -must- have a tart pan it may make for a prettier presentation of course, but I was please with the results of the cupcake tin.   The crème pâtissière is from the amazing Julia Childs, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  The crust is my sweet crust adaptation from Williams Sonoma.

French Pastry Cream
Creme Patissiere

  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Paste or 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes

Over medium heat in a small sauce pan bring the 2 cups of milk and vanilla to a boil (If using a vanilla bean, cut in half and scrape the beans out stir in the milk and add the whole bean pod in the milk as well). Place a 3 quart or larger sauce pan on the stove ready for use.

Place the egg yolks in a stand mixer, and with a wire whip gradually beat in the sugar. Continue beating for a 3-5 minutes until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and it should form thick ribbons.

Beat in the flour until well combined.  Slowly on low speed, trickle in the milk in a thin slow stream.  Do not add the vanilla pod set aside for a moment. After the milk is added turn onto medium high speed and mix for 1 minute.

Pour the mixture into the 3 quart pan you previously had set on the stove, re-add the vanilla pod.   Turn to medium-high heat.   Slowly and  continuously whip with a wire whip, reaching all over bottom and sides of pan, until mixture thickens.   The mixture will get lumpy as it begins to thicken.  Keep whisking it and it will work the lumps out.   After a while you will notice the mixture start to decrease in volume down to a thick custard.  At this point turn it down to medium-low and keep mixing to work out any lumps.

Continue stirring for several minutes, anywhere from  5-10 minutes to cook the flour and thicken the cream. Be very careful about scorching cream in bottom of pan; be sure your pan is heavy, be sure to keep stirring, and do not use high heat, particularly after cream has reduced in volume and started to thicken.  It will be ready when the mixture is thick and heavy, but not so thick it resembles a roux.

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter.  Pour into a bowl, using a spatula to clean off sides of the pan to get all of the custard. Cover the bowl with cling film pressing it down lightly touching on top of the custard.  This will prevent it from creating a film from forming when refrigerated.   Will keep refrigerated for one week or frozen up to a month.

Sweet Pastry Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs. very cold water

To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture is a small crumb, and slightly resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.   Transfer the dough to a work surface, shape into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disk with gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll to the needed size.  Fit into pan(s), prick dough with fork and fit a piece parchment over the top of the dough enough to cover up over the sides.  Fill with pie weights (alternatively and cheeper, you can use dried beans as pie weights).  Refrigerate the dough until firm 15-20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425°F.  Bake until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  When cool enough to handle, remove the weights and parchment.  Fill as desired.
To make dough in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt in the processor and pulse until combined.  Slowly add the butter and pulse until it forms a small crumb like coarse cornmeal.  Add the water and pulse until the dough starts to come together.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball, and flatten into a disk. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll to the needed size.   Fit into pan(s), prick dough with fork and fit a square of parchment over the top of the dough enough to cover up over the sides.  Fill with pie weights (alternatively and cheeper, you can use dried beans as pie weights).  Refrigerate the dough until firm 15-20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425°F.  Bake until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  When cool enough to handle, remove the weights and parchment.  Fill as desired.

Adapted: Pastry Cream:  Julia Childs MtAoFC, Pastry Crust: Williams Sonoma