Salted Caramel Tart

I remember the exact moment when I discovered the culinary heaven that is SALTED CARAMEL. It was in October 2011 and we were in Miami on Lincoln Road. We’d stopped for ice cream.

Ghirardelli

Then I saw it on the menu: HOT CHOCOLATE WITH SALTED CARAMEL. SALT! with CARAMEL! CARAMEL! but SALTY! This confection was so good I took a photo of it.

salty caramel

That time in Miami was all warm breezes and peachy light. I’d handed my PhD thesis in the week before we’d left, and there was a kind of void where THE GIANT PROJECT had been… a sense of epic relief, and the unfamiliar sensation of having leisure time and no idea what to do next. There couldn’t have been a better time for a holiday, and at that exact moment in my life, no place better than Miami. I felt extremely lucky to be able to be in such an amazing place.

MIAMI DECO

We walked on the beach, I recorded all the unfamiliar sounds… Florida bird life and air conditioning, US radio, the lapping waves around the Florida Keys… we photographed Deco buildings, we went on an airboat in the Everglades, and we NOMMED our way through many amazing meals. The ones I remember most are the aforementioned stop at Ghirardelli’s, a beautiful fish restaurant on the Florida Keys outside which tiny sharks swam (that you could feed) and an amazing stack of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. That last was in a classic old Deco diner. It consolidated my new passion for SALTY! with SWEET!

pancake booth

(There are Mark and his boys in the beautiful Deco diner, pre-pancakes…)

DINER BY NIGHT

(There is the diner at night with its striking Deco architecture…)

I was thinking of all this the other day because my brother Thad and his wondrous partner Michelle and their wee baby girl Scarlett were coming to visit. And if anyone can match my level of enthusiasm for food, then it is my brother Thad. I love this photo from when him and Michelle went to Canada on a lovely holiday of their own – LOOK AT THE JOY!!!

THAD

In honour of their visit I began plotting some kind of SALTED CARAMEL EXTRAVAGANZA and spent some time reading around the construction of the ultimate salted caramel sauce. I am amused to discover that several food bloggers are kind of OVER SALTED CARAMEL and writing about it with a sense of jaded ennui. HAVE THEY TASTED SALTED CARAMEL?

THERE SHALL BE NO JADED ENNUI HERE, FOR I THINK SALTED CARAMEL IS AMAZING. SALT! with CARAMEL! CARAMEL! but SALTY!

After researching different recipes, I decided to tweak this one by Paul A. Young. I wanted to use evaporated milk in place of cream because I think it has a stronger flavour which will bring out the butteriness of the insane quantities of butter, and I wanted to use Palm Sugar in place of Muscovado because it has such a lovely flavour and fruitiness.

palm trees

I really think the palm sugar makes it…

caramel

…the sound of bubbling sugar and butter is lovely. So lethal and fluffy and ominous…

…I also felt that a 40% cocoa milk chocolate would overpower the butterscotch goodness of the caramel and so I opted for milk chocolate with more like 20% cocoa solids in it. Finally, I just wanted to make one giant pie as I do not have loads of tiny little pie tins, and I left out the gold leaf and the cocoa nibs because this was to be a dirty workhorse of a SALTED CARAMEL PIE and not a chocolatier’s confection.

PIE!

I discovered I need only have made half of the shortcrust pastry in the original recipe, so I have tweaked the quantities to reflect this.

Like holidays in Miami, baking something like this is a very rare treat! I would never have made it while I was doing Weight Watchers because knowing how many calories are in it would ruin all the fun. But if what you are after in your life is the absolute hedonism and pleasure of SALTY! with CARAMEL! to share with the people that you love, then I think you might enjoy this.

And if you want to read something beautiful about the politics of making Caramel, look no further than this lovely piece by Clara Parkes.

RECIPE

EQUIPMENT
8″ pie tin (I used a shallow glass one we have)
rolling pin
large mixing bowl

INGREDIENTS
For the crust
100g of butter, softened
75g of low-fat spread/margarine
75g of granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
250g of plain flour

For the filling
200g of butter, softened (I used Anchor butter, salted)
200g of palm sugar (sometimes called Jaggery)
200ml evaporated milk
1 tsp of flaky sea salt
200g of milk chocolate, broken into pieces (I used 90g Happy Shopper milk chocolate and 110g Galaxy milk chocolate)

DIFFICULTY
Easy

COOKING TIME
1 hour 10 minutes including chilling time

METHOD
1. Begin by making the pastry base. Add the butter, margarine and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Gradually mix in the egg yolks and mix again until smooth.

2. Add the flour, a little bit at a time, mixing continuously, to form a stiff paste. Once all the flour has been incorporated, wrap the pastry ball in cling film and keep in the fridge for 1 hour to firm.

3. If the palm sugar is in big lumps, break them into smaller pieces by gently pounding with the end of the rolling pin.

4. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 / 350°F / 180°C

5. Once chilled, roll the pastry out to a 3mm thickness. Carefully line pie tin with pastry and blind bake in the oven until golden for approximately 25 minutes.

6. Now make the filling. Add the butter and palm sugar to a large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Simmer for 2 minutes before adding the salt and evaporated milk.

7. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir the chocolate chunks in vigorously, until melted. Pour this mixture into the tart case and leave in the fridge to set.

8. Enjoy SALT! with CARAMEL! CARAMEL! but SALTY!

YOURS IN CALORIES,
XF

4 Responses to Salted Caramel Tart

  1. Elaine says:

    Yum!! This sounds so delicious. I will print the recipe and file it away for future reference.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh my goodness, I think you’ve made my boyfriend’s day…he loves caramel (regular and the salty kind) so I’ll squirrel this away and make it for him for father’s day (and pretend the cat baked it)..
    Your pictures of Florida were great, that diner was so beautiful. And I loved the expression on your brother’s face, that’s definitely a very happy man xx

  3. Lara says:

    I love the amazing joy in this article – I can almost taste the salty but sweet tart. Looks great – I might indeed much such a confection in the future. XXX

  4. Pingback: An Encouraging Thunder award and a right old waffle……. | ericka eckles

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