Most books tell you not to stir or disturb your sugar-water when making caramel, but I’ve never understood why. Doing this will result in sugar crystals on the side of your saucepan. I always stir my caramels, with no adverse side effects, and better yet, with no sugar crystals on the sides of my pot.
Also, it is very important to temper in this recipe. When adding cream to the caramel, you want to do this slowly and you do not want to use cold cream. Adding the cream quickly or using cold cream will cause the caramel to harden, and while it will soften and dissolve again, it is a slow process. You will also want to temper the eggs before adding them to the caramel, so as to prevent scrambling them.
Finally, the original recipe calls for both bittersweet and milk chocolates, either chopped, or in large chocolate chip form, but I think the tart is sweet enough that milk chocolate would be overkill. I have done this recipe with bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped up dark chocolate bars, and with Lindt extreme dark chocolate truffles. I never use anything less than 60% cacao.
Caramel Chocolate Chunk Tart
Adapted from Emily Luchetti’s A Passion for Desserts
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ tsp salt (or more, to taste)
¼ tsp instant coffee
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into ½ inch pieces, or in chocolate chip form
Pre-baked 9 inch tart shell
Preheat the oven to 325°F
· Measure out the heavy cream and allow it to sit out at room temperature while making the caramel. Have this cream at hand, along with a measuring cup, either 1/3 or 1/4 cup in volume.
· Stir together water and sugar over medium heat in a light colored saucepan (so you can see the color changes) until melted—about 3 to 5 minutes. Once dissolved, increase to high heat and cook, stirring frequently to prevent sugar crystals from forming on the sides of the saucepan. Cook until the sugar is amber, about 5 more minutes. It should be a dark coppery brown (but not burnt). Remove the pan from heat.
· Wearing oven mitts, carefully add 1/3 or 1/4 cup (depending on your measuring cup size) cream. THIS WILL SPLATTER, SO BE CAREFUL. Stir. Add the salt and instant coffee. Allow to cool.
· Lightly whisk together the eggs in a bowl. Whisk in about ¼ cup of the caramel mixture to temper the eggs. Whisk in another ¼ cup of the caramel before combining all the caramel with the eggs.
· Scatter the chocolate pieces in the bottom of the tart shell and pour the caramel filling over. Rap the tart shell once to get rid of any air bubbles.
· Place on a baking sheet and bake until set, about 25 to 30 minutes. Check on the tart after about 20 minutes. If the edges are brown too quickly, wrap the edges with tin foil. Remove the tart from the oven when it is just set, although the center may jiggle slightly, it will continue to cook as it cools outside the oven.
· This tart is good when warm, but when served at room temperature, it has a more complex flavor to it. It can also be refrigerated, although take it out at least 20 minutes before serving. The cooler the tart, the more solid the filling (and also the easier it is to cut and serve).