Everyone needs their share of chocolate-y goodness.  We all crave that pick me up that only chocolate can give us.  I’ve had a hacking cough for the past week.  When I say hacking, I feel like a barking dog or howling wolf as I try to clear the congestion in my throat.  The cold weather up here in Canada can be brutal.  Earlier this week it was -17 F, arctic tundra temperatures in my books.

Now, I am getting back to my normal routine after being sick and the first real thing I wanted to make is a chocolate tart of some sort.  Getting over a cold is something to celebrate, right?  And celebrate I did…with chocolate.  I dug into my “good” chocolate stash that I pick up every time I go back to the States because it is hard for me to find it in Kingston, and if I do it’s more expensive.  So, I am guilty of some cross-border chocolate smuggling.  If the Immigration Officer asks about food, I do say, chocolate and I usually get a smirk.  Let me tell you, I have seen some strange foodstuffs being examined at the Immigration-Customs area, but I don’t want any of you to lose your appetites.

This chocolate tart won’t make you lose your appetite, it is layered with a nutty caramel.  I used flaky puff pastry as a base.  I love the combination of chocolate, caramel, and nuts.  Therefore, I did some experimenting and came up with this recipe.  It is relatively easy, so if you are pressed for time, it might serve as a good option.  Translation: if you need chocolate within 1 hour, this will work for you.

I also wanted to mention that I am a finalist for the food52 contest, “Your Best Salad with Apples.”  I am extremely flattered and honored to be chosen as a finalist and recommend any of you who like to challenge yourself and meet a very supportive community to join.  It’s great fun to come up with a recipe suited to each week’s contest.  I made a “Shades of Green Chopped Salad.”  Feel free to check it out and check out the other finalist, whose salad looks fabulous.  Voting ends next week, so I will let you know if I win.  Either way, I’m thrilled to be a finalist.

Chocolate Caramel Triple Nut Tart

(I made something similar before, pictured here)

Serves 6

Ingredients

for the nutty caramel:

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon water

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup of chopped mixed nuts, I used almonds, pecans, and walnuts

pinch of kosher salt

for the chocolate:

6 ounces good-quality 70% dark chocolate, chopped

2 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 eggs, at room temperature

crust:

7 ounce piece of puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator overnight, if frozen

garnish:

fleur de sel, I love it, my husband hates salt in his desserts, but I usually win.

extra chopped nuts, optional

whipped cream or ice cream, optional

Method

Make the caramel first by heating a small saucepan on medium heat.  Add in the brown sugar and water and mix with a rubber spatula.  Keep stirring the sugar until it starts to melt and, about 5 minutes.  Once melted, mix in the butter and allow it to form a caramel.  Make sure the sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat up slightly and let the caramel bubble.  Be very careful as to not let the caramel splatter or burn you.  After about 2 minutes, turn down the heat to low and add in the heavy cream and vanilla extract.  Mix in the nuts and turn the heat off and sprinkle the caramel with a tiny pinch of salt.  Allow the caramel to cool while you melt the chocolate.

Over a double-boiler (use a heat-safe bowl) on medium heat, melt the chocolate (both kinds) together.  Once melted fold in the butter so that the chocolate becomes glossy.  Take the bowl off the heat and mix in the vanilla extract.  Beat the 2 eggs in another bowl and whisk in a little of the warm chocolate into the eggs so that they won’t scramble when you add them to the larger bowl of chocolate, i.e. temper the eggs.  Once you have tempered the eggs, fold them into the chocolate so that they are well mixed in.  Set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry so that it will fit a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  I rolled it about 1 inch bigger than the pan so I could create a sort of rustic, messy look for the crust.  If you prefer a neater look, that’s fine as well.

Once the puff pastry is properly in the tart pan, layer the nutty caramel on the bottom in an even layer.  Then smooth the chocolate over the caramel.  If you rolled out the puff pastry larger than the pan, then fold over the edges, sort of like a galette.  Brush the exposed pastry with some milk.  Put the tart in the fridge for 10-15 minutes so that it sets.

At this point, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

After 15 minutes, bake the tart in the oven for 30 minutes or until the puff pastry turns light golden brown.  When you remove the tart from the oven, let it sit for 15 minutes because the caramel will be a little gooey.  If you prefer it to be gooey, eat it straight from the oven!  Sprinkle a little fleur de sel over the top, if you wish.  Serve with any of the above mentioned garnishes, if desired.

*After baking, you can put the tart in the fridge for 15 minutes as well.

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