Sometimes I get an idea for a recipe in my head, and there is just no way to shake it but get into the kitchen and give it a try. That is exactly what happened with this recipe. I tried to forget it, tried to shove it to the back corner, but it kept popping up. A nutty crust, topped with salted caramel, and then a rich, deep, dark chocolate ganache over top, with a tiny sprinkle of salt, just to cut the sweetness a bit. I had bought some 4-inch tart pans a while back, but rarely use them. I decided that for a special treat, I would put those 4-inch pans to use, and make this idea a reality. One 4-inch tart is enough for two people to share after a wonderful dinner, or you could indulge and enjoy it all yourself with a strong cup of coffee. Either way, I think you will enjoy these Gluten-free Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tarts.
Yields Four 4-inch tarts
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup brown rice flour
- 2 Tablespoons potato starch
- 1 Tablespoon tapioca starch
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- pinch salt
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 teaspoons cold water
- Unless your tart pans are non-stick, lightly grease them. Place all the tart pans on a baking sheet with sides.
- Place all ingredients except the butter and water into a food processor. Pulse to mix.
- Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles sand. Add the water, and pulse again, and the mixture should come together nicely.
- Press dough into four 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms.
- Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to chill the butter. (this is a great time to start on the salted caramel sauce and chop the chocolate)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake tart shells in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and press crust down with the back of a spoon if necessary. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then fill immediately.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- In a medium-size, heavy-bottom sauce pan, melt the sugar over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to ensure the sugar melts evenly. Be careful, melted sugar is extremely hot.
- Heat until the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees F on an instant-read candy thermometer, or until it has reached a nice amber colour. This part may take some trial & error, if you heat it too long, it will have a nasty burnt taste. You want it to just reach a brownish-red colour. Note: When adding the remaining ingredients to the hot melted sugar, the mixture will bubble up and boil. Be prepared.
- Remove from heat and carefully add the butter all at once, and whisk until it is fully incorporated.
- Add the heavy cream and stir until the sauce becomes nice and smooth.
- Add the vanilla and salt. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and let cool for 10 minutes before dividing it evenly between the 4 tart shells.
Chocolate Ganache Filling
- 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, adds great flavour to chocolate though)
- Place chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl.
- In a small sauce pan, heat heavy cream, granulated sugar, salt, and espresso powder until small bubbles begin to appear around the outside of the sauce pan.
- Pour hot cream mixture over the chocolate and butter, and allow it to sit for 3-5 minutes.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate and cream together, until it is a smooth consistency and the chocolate is completely melted.
- Divide the ganache between the four tarts.
- Refrigerate tarts for 1 1/2 hours before serving. This will allow the caramel to thicken, and the ganache to set up.
- Sprinkle the top with a few flakes of sea salt before serving.
Note: The complete tarts can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
The salted caramel sauce is adapted from Brown Eyed Baker. I love this caramel sauce, it is so easy to make, and tastes amazing on ice cream or desserts.