This recipe is a little over the top, I mean just the title is a little much-salted caramel chocolate walnut tart. I wanted to shorten it, but leaving any of those elements out wouldn’t accurately represent the lusciousness of this ridiculous dessert.
I’ll do a little tart tour, from bottom to top, so you can get an idea of what I mean. It starts with a light and crumbly walnut crust. Then a layer of gooey salted caramel in the middle, with chunks of toasted walnuts. Next it’s all sealed in with a decadent dark chocolate ganache. Finally it’s topped with a smattering of salted caramel walnuts. See? Totally ridiculous.
Worth it though? Absolutely. Now, I won’t lie. This thing is a project to complete. Set aside the better portion of an afternoon or evening to take this recipe on. I spent essentially an entire night constructing this thing, with my laptop propped up on the kitchen counter so I could binge watch Netflix simultaneously(not recommended for optimum focus levels). You could even make half of this beauty one day, and the second half another day.
I can personally vouch that it makes an excellent dessert, and even better breakfast. I pretty much will eat anything with a cup of black coffee and call it breakfast though. Personal breakfast standards may vary*.
Yields one 9 inch tart. Serves 8-10.
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and cold
Salted Caramel Walnut Layer
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse salt+extra for sprinkling
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly
20 toasted walnut halves(separate from the other walnuts)
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/3 cup whole milk
5 ounces dark chocolate, chunks, chips, or chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- Whisk egg and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a food processor fitted with a blade, process nuts and sugar until fine in texture.
- Add in salt and flour. Pulse a few times to combine.
- Sprinkle butter cubes over mixture and pulse until the mixture is the texture of cornmeal.
- Drizzle in egg yolk and vanilla mixture with machine running until dough forms.
- Empty dough out on a sheet of plastic wrap. Mold into a small disc, and wrap up in sheet of plastic wrap.
- Chill in fridge for at least an hour.
- Let thaw on counter about 10 minutes to soften.
- Roll dough into about an 11 inch circle.
- Cover dough circle with plastic wrap and pop back into fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Drape dough circle over a nine inch tart pan.
- Gently use fingers to fit dough into ridges of tart pan. Fold down any overhanging edge to thicken rim of crust.
- Run rolling pin over top of tart pan to neaten top of crust.
- Wrap whole pan in plastic wrap, and put in freezer for about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
- Lightly oil a piece of aluminum foil, so it doesn’t stick to dough. Line inside of tart with aluminum foil, making sure to cover all the dough.
- Fill with pie weights(or dried beans).
- Place tart pan onto a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
- Remove pie weights and foil, and set aside to cool.
- Lower temperature to 300 degree fahrenheit.
Salted Caramel Walnut Layer
- Pour water into small saucepan.
- Pour sugar directly into center of saucepan. Avoid letting the sugar touch the sides of the pan.
- Combine with rubber spatula.
- Turn heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Don’t stir.
- Let boil until lightly gold in color. About 6 minutes.
- Turn heat down to medium low and continue cooking while stirring mixture for about another 3 minutes. Mixture should darken more in color.
- Take mixture off heat and very very slowly drizzle in heavy cream while whisking. Mixture will bubble up. Keep whisking until mixture is smooth and even in color.
- Whisk in butter, lemon, and vanilla.
- Stir in toasted walnut halves until covered in caramel.
- Let caramel rest for 10 minutes to thicken.
- Use a slotted spoon or small tongs to remove all the walnut halves. Place them on a cooling rack.
- Sprinkle walnut halves with a light and even layer of coarse salt.
- Add portioned salt and chopped walnuts into caramel, and stir to combine.
- Pour caramel mixture into cooled tart crust.
- Let tart chill in fridge uncovered for about 30 minutes, until caramel is firm.
- Whisk together egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring remaining cream and milk to just a simmer. Remove from heat.
- Immediately add in chocolate and butter. Stir briefly.
- Cover with a lid and let sit for about 3 minutes.
- Whisk until mixture is smooth and all chocolate is melted.
- Pour in egg/cream mixture and whisk again until smooth.
- Carefully pour chocolate on top of chilled caramel layer of tart.
- Gently tilt pan to even out chocolate.
- Bake whole tart in oven for about 25 minutes.
- Use salted caramel walnuts halves to decorate top of tart.
- Let tart chill uncovered in fridge overnight or at least several hours.
- Remove tart pan and cut to serve.
Walnuts go into this recipe in multiple places, and in multiple forms. Make sure to keep the walnut portions and preparations straight.
To cut tart, run hot water over your knife for a few seconds, then wipe dry. Do this between each cut for the neatest results.
I adapted this recipe from the Chocolate Walnut Tart recipe in my Cook’s Illustrated. I adjusted both the chocolate and caramel layers to suit my tastes as well as the walnut pieces on top. I left the crust alone, not wanting to tempt the baking gods that evening.
Ps. I was totally losing my sunlight throughout this shoot. I started with bright, overexposed style lighting and ended with moody dark light. There were also giant grey storm clouds floating through the sky, constantly casting weird murky shadows. I couldn’t be upset about it though, I love the rain too much to complain.
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