A decadent rich chocolate dessert with a chocolate shortbread dough, toasted peanuts, salted caramel layer finished with a chocolate ganache and sprinkle of fleur de sel.
I decided to call this a Snickers Chocolate Tart, because that is what it reminded me of. Call it whatever you want, it is just insanely good. Rich. Decadent. Oh. My Goodness. Sign me up for a slice of that kind of tart.
This dough has a soft crumbly shortbread texture, Basically, it melts in your mouth. It’s an easy dough to make, just remember it needs to be chilled in order to be worked with. It is a French sable dough or “sand dough”, which means only the butter binds its together. The most interesting about this dough was after it chilled it had to be broken up into pieces and made pliable again by either hitting it with your rolling pin or putting it in your stand mixer with your dough hook attached. A little extra effort but totally worth it. Look at me making fancy French tart.
Then “blind bake it”. Over the holidays, my family and I were playing a board game and the trivia question was what is blind baking. Of course it wasn’t my turn. Drat. I figured, everyone knows what that is right? Nope. My sister-in-law said that’s where you make it up as you go along right? Um no. And we lost that turn. Oh well. Blind baking is simply baking it before you place the filling in. You can line it with parchment paper and then weight down the dough with dried beans, so it doesn’t puff up on you in the oven. I decided to be even lazier and simply take a fork making indentations allowing steam to escape.
Originally this tart was going to only a chocolate ganache tart. Then I decided salted caramel needed to come and join the fun. And then I thought oh why stop there. Let’s add in some toasted nuts as well. When it was peanuts that joined the party, I thought hmm, this has all the qualities of a snickers chocolate bar baked into tart form. Oh yeah, how could that be bad?
Toasting nuts is really easy if you have never done it before. Toasting the nuts brings the flavor out in the nuts. I baked them for five minutes on a cookie sheet, gave them a shake, then baked them for another 2-3 minutes. Just be careful not to let them burn!
As far as for caramel sauce, that can be quite tricky. If I can offer one piece of advice, don’t attempt unless you have a digital candy thermometer. I have made caramel before (with little success) until I invested in a digital thermometer. Caramel can go from beautiful to burnt in a blink of an eye. Don’t blink and get yourself a digital thermometer. You’ve been warned.
A couple of other helpful hints, keep the sugar in a pile away from the sides of your pan to help from sugar crystals straying to the side of the bowl trying to escape on you and threaten the texture of the your caramel. If I can channel Alton Brown for a second, sugar wants to re-crystallize and all it need sometimes to do so is one “seed crystal” or single sugar crystal to cling onto. One crystal and they all come running! If a sugar crystal goes rogue on you, simply brush down the sides of your saucepan with a brush and a little water. Tell those sugar crystals who’s boss. The corn syrup helps to stop those pesky sucrose molecules from re-crystallizing on you as well. Corn syrup is actually glucose molecules, and will interrupt those sucrose molecules (aka table sugar) from joining together and having a party. Don’t let them.
The original recipe for this caramel sauce (and the ganache and tart dough) called for crème fraiche to be added in at the end. My purse strings can’t allow for that, so I substituted in non-fat greek yogurt. You could also use sour cream. The yogurt gives its a smooth richness to it.
This tart gets finished off with a rich smooth layer of decadent chocolate ganahce. All chocolate ganache is equal weight of chocolate and heavy cream. The key is chop your chocolate into small pieces to ensure even melting. Use a serrated knife to help get small chunks and prevent your knife from slipping off your board. Heavy cream then gets boiled and poured over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute undisturbed, and then stir until it is nice and smooth. If you have never made chocolate ganahce you will feel like a fancy pastry chef after and amaze your friends. Ganache can then be used to make truffles, glaze for cupcakes, or a guilty pleasure at midnight when you lick it right off your spoon straight from the fridge.
I’ve been trying to peruse my own ridiculous collection of cookbooks as opposed to relying on the internet like I do. I have been love love loving this cookbook, that I have had for a few years now and sadly never used! Shame on me! My goal is to see how many recipes I can make out of this cookbook. I like the way that Sherry divides up the chapters based on master recipes. Master ganache then make truffles. Master caramel, then sky’s the limit. This is my first attempt at making a few recipes out of the book. The cookbook not only breaks down step by step of how to achieve pastry greatness, but then gives you variations on the recipe. I felt like I had a head pastry chef at my side, guiding me, and giving me confidence to venture out on my own. Be sure to come back and see what else I bake up with this cookbook and many others.
Snickers Chocolate Tart
For the Chocolate Short Dough
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter softened, but still cool
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
For Salted Caramel Peanut Sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream warmed to 100 F
- 1/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
- 2/3 cup toasted peanuts
For the Chocolate Ganache
- 16 oz. bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
To make the chocolate short dough
- 1. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder into a medium bowl and set aside.
- 2. Place the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly creamed. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the powdered sugar and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- 3. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
- 4. Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap it in plastic film. Chill for at least 4 hours. At this point, the dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or may be rolled out and frozen up to 1 month.
- 5. When you remove it from the refrigerator, it will be very hard because of the butter and the sugar. To make it pliable enough to roll out you must soften it without warming it up too much. You can do this a couple ways. Cut the dough up into 8 small pieces and gently knead each piece by hand. You can place in your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead on low for 1 minute. You can also pound each piece gently with your rolling pin until pliable.
- 6. Roll or press the dough out into your tart pan. To bake, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the rack to the lower third of your oven. Prick the bottom with the a fork a few times. Blind bake your tart dough by lining it with parchment paper over the dough and filling with dried beans. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes and bake for 6 to 10 minutes longer. Cool on rack before filling.
For the Salted Caramel Peanut Sauce
- 1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir them together with very clean fingers, making sure no lumps of dry sugar remains. Brush down the inside of the pan with a little water, using your hand to find any stray sugar crystals.
- 2. Cover the saucepan and place it over medium heat for 4 minute. After 4 minutes, remove the lid increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Do not stir from this point on. Keep an eye on the pan. It will be very bubbly. When stray sugar crystals appear on the side of the pan, brush them down with a clean wet pastry brush.
- 3. As the sugar cooks, the bubbles will get larger. Insert a candy thermometer, and when the temperature reaches 300 F, lower the heat to medium, which will allow the cooking. Continue to cook until 350 F, this will happen quickly. It will be dark instead of golden brown. Let it rest for 1 minute, or until all the bubbles have subsided. Add the cream to the caramel. It will bubble up vigorously so be careful.
- 4. Vigorously whisk in the yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. The sauce is now ready to be served warmed or cooled to room temperature. It will keep stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. When it cools it will have the consistency of peanut butter.
- 5. For the peanuts, spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Give them a stir and place in the oven for an additional 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool then chop. Stir the chopped peanuts into your caramel sauce. You can also spread the peanuts directly onto the baked tart shell and pour the caramel over it.
For the Ganache
- 1. Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4 inch pieces. Big pieces won't melt, so don't be lazy!
- 2. Place the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boiling the cream means the cream will actually rise up in the pan and threaten to boil over.
- 3. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate cream, then let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add to much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. It may look done for 1 minute after stirring, but keep going to make sure it's emulsified.
- 4. Allow to cool slightly then assemble your pie by pouring and spreading the caramel and peanuts first, top with the chocolate ganache. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt or fleur de sel.
- 5. Allow to firm before slicing.