I've been wanting to remake this recipe for nearly a year, it hasn't made an appearance in my kitchen since last year's Thanksgiving for the (what will now be an annual) Thanksgiving Throwdown between me and my Uncle Erik. Here's the thing - there's not a competitive bone in my little body and that basically makes me the black sheep of this family that boasts an undefeated flag football team for a ridiculous number of years. I spent most of my childhood crying during whiffle ball because I couldn't "keep my head in the game" and limping off the volleyball court after being told just how invaluable of a player I actually was. Don't get me wrong, it's all said in love...well, at least I think it is. I think it's actually about the win.
So being a Coach of the Year sort of man who happens to produce children of unprecedented talent (I swear my gene pool is missing something), there had to be something I could go up against him against and not leave with my head hung down in shame. To the kitchen, to the death! He swore he could kick my rear over the moon not only on the playing field (which I'll give him) but also in the kitchen (I felt my chances were better behind the stove.) So we spent weeks planning and laying down the rules, selecting judges and mapping out our individual plans of attacks. I came full throttle with a sexed up chocolate tart complete with edible gold glitter and he was equipped with pumpkin cupcakes, acorns shaped out of Rolo candies and leaf shaped peanut butter cups. Let the games begin.
Now despite the fact that at any other time my family would be more than willing to instigate a bit of rivalry, they felt the need to call it a "tie" for the sake of the holidays and to avoid riling everybody up. Big mistake. There was more uproar over there not technically being a winner than there would've been over just calling my chocolate tart the champion, I mean, honestly. I fully intend to take him on again this year and there's not gonna be any ties!
This tart is essentially a glammed up Snickers bar, it boasts a buttery shortbread crust filled with gooey caramel roped around chopped butter toffee peanuts and topped with smooth chocolate ganache. It's incredibly decadent with a bit of crunch from the peanuts and a blend of dark and semi-sweet chocolates to give it a better depth of flavor. It takes a bit of work and a little time in the fridge to set up, but it's well worth the wait. Unadorned it's a casual looking thing, but if you really want to get fancy you go Throwdown style and blow a little edible glitter across the slices or drizzled chocolate designs onto wax paper and freeze them before sticking them into the top of the tart.
Chocolate Caramel Crunch Tart
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Sweet Tart Dough
Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change–heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.
To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (Alternately, you can roll this out between two pieces of plastic, though flour the dough a bit anyway.) Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.
Alternately, you can press the dough in as soon as it is processed: Press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart shell. You want to press hard enough that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that it loses its crumbly texture.
Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To fully or partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. And here is the very best part: Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. (To partially bake it, only an additional 5 minutes is needed.) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature, and proceed with the rest of your recipe.
For the caramel:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
Bring the cream to boil.
Meanwhile, in a non-stick fry pan over medium heat sprinkle in around 3 tablespoons of sugar. Wait for it to melt, stir it with a wooden spoon, then add another 3 tablespoons of sugar. When this set of sugar has melted add the rest of the sugar, wait for it to melt. Stir with a wooden spoon.
Add the corn syrup and stir again. Boil until a deep caramel color has been achieved, about 2 minutes. Stand back from the fry pan and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the cream. Lower the temp. a bit and let the caramel boil for 2 min. Pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl, mix in the chopped peanuts (I used butter toffee peanuts, but the original recipe calls for honey-roasted).
For the ganache:
4 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 60%)
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
Put the chocolate bits into a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour half on top of the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, and then with a whisk very gently stir the chocolate and cream together (begin with small circles in the center and then slowly make larger circles). Pour in the rest of the cream, and stir using the same circular motions.
When it is smooth and shiny stir in the butter (one piece at a times). Don't stir the ganache any more then you have to - the less you work it the better the texture will be. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap - pressing the plastic against it as to seal it. Set aside at room temp.
Spread the caramel onto the bottom of the tart shell, if the caramel has tightened up you can microwave it for about 15 seconds or until it is loose enough to pour. Once the caramel is in the shell, keep it in the fridge for about 25 minutes or until the caramel is set.
Pour the ganache over the top of the caramel and return the whole tart to the fridge for at least two hours to set. Bring to room temperature before serving.