Monday, November 14, 2011

A Salty Sweet Tart

Caramel.  Pecans.  Cherries.  Almonds.  Chocolate.  Forget raindrops on roses, these are a few of my favorite things.  And when you put them all together?  Well, dear readers, you've got yourself  a ticket to Indulgenceville.

Served a little warm, because who wants to wait?

What you actually have is a slightly modified version of the Caramel-Cranberry Nut Tart from the October/November 2001 issue of Cooking Pleasures, the fabulous magazine that comes with membership in the Cooking Club of America.  And before you ask, yes, I mean the 2001 issue--I keep them all and after a couple of years, they seem brand new!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup flour
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. water

1 cup sugar
3 T light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 cup slivered almond, toasted
3/4 cup dried cranberries

2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. In medium bowl, stir together flour, 1 T sugar, and salt; add 1/2 cup butter.  With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In small bowl, combine water and vanilla; add to flour-butter mixture, stirring until dough holds shape when pressed together.

2. Press pastry dough evenly in bottom and up sides of 9-inch tart pan.  Place in freezer at least 30 minutes.

3. Heat oven to 375F.  Bake crust, uncovered, 15 minutes.  Check crust; if beginning to bubble, gently prick bubbles.  Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

4. Remove crust from oven; cool until ready to fill.

5. In heavy medium saucepan, stir together 1 cup sugar and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  As sugar begins to melt, swirl saucepan gently to combine sugar and syrup.  Continue to cook until mixture begins to caramelize.

Watch carefully; if necessary, remove saucepan from heat occasionally to stop cooking.   When caramel reaches rich golden brown color, remove from heat.  Carefully add 1/2 cup butter and cream.  Return to heat; stir until mixture is smooth and butter is melted.

6. Pour caramel into large bowl.  Stir in pecans, almonds, and cranberries.  Pour into baked crust, evenly distributing nuts and berries.  Sprinkle chocolate over top.  Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.  Serve chilled as caramel will soften at room temperature.

TIP: To toast pecans and almonds, spread on baking sheet; bake at 375F for 5 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

Literate Baker notes:  I used dried cherries in place of the cranberries, because I love them even more.  I also used milk chocolate because I was sharing this with a milk chocolate lover and because I had leftover chocolate bars from Halloween.  Oh, and I also threw 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt into the caramel, because that's how I roll. 

This tart is crazy rich.  It is saved from being too sweet by the buttery crust and, in my opinion, a touch of salt in the caramel.  Unlike pies at tarts with a more liquid filling, it keeps very nicely in the fridge for days.  I mean, if it lasts that long.  The possibilities for mixing and matching nuts and fruits and chocolate make this definitely one to keep, and one to...

Keep it sweet.

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