It's the busiest baking time of the year, what with holiday celebrations at the office, screenings of It's A Wonderful Life at my house, and music-and-dinner parties at my parents', not to mention Christmas Eve, morning, dinner, AND New Year's Eve. But it's okay, because I've got a long list of things I want to bake (keep checking back here for what they are!).
Yesterday we had a going away/holiday party at work, and my co-workers/party planning team asked if I would bake a pie and some cookies for it. They were already ordering a carrot cake from the caterer, so I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to make something rich and chocolatey, namely, this chocolate sea-salt tart with candied pecans I had been eyeing over at Food Republic.
As I mentioned before, I've been on a salty-sweet kick, and this tart is no exception. Though I am always a bit dubious of other crusts, I went out on a limb and tried the one in Paul A. Young's recipe-- he is a master chocolatier after all. In the end, I think that the tart is SO rich that it doesn't really need a chocoalte crust, and that a normal pastry crust would help to temper the intensity of the bittersweet chocolate and salty pecans. But I'll let you decide for yourself. Here's the recipe I adapted...
Chocolate Sea-Salt Tart with Candied Pecans
Crust (You can use Nothing-in-the-House standard recipe, or as below):
12 Tblsp. unsalted butter, kept cold and cut into pieces
1/3 c. sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
7 oz. Madagascan
60-70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup pecan halves
1. If using the Nothing-in-the-House standard recipe, follow those instructions. If using the cocoa crust, mix together flour, sugar, and cocoa powder, the cut in cold butter pieces with a knife and fork or pastry cutter. Stir in beaten eggs, until dough comes together into a ball. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour. Can be made 2 days ahead or frozen and thawed.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll out pastry until it is about 12 in. in diameter. Grease and flour 10-in. tart pan and transfer crust to pan, trimming off excess crust. Refrigerate the crust for 15 minutes to help prevent shrinkage during baking.
3. Remove crust from fridge and line with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans, and blind bake for 20 minutes. Take out paper and weights and bake for 5-8 more minutes until tart is fully baked. Let cool.
1. Put all ingredients into the top of a double boiler. Put water in the bottom of the boiler and place on medium heat until filling is melted, glossy, and thick.
2. Pour filling into the cooled, baked crust and refrigerate for 2 hours.
1. Heat a saucepan on low heat until warm and gradually add the sugar, stirring constantly until melted into a golden liquid caramel. Add salt, then the pecans, mixing well. When fully combined, quickly pour the hot mixture onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Spread with a spatula.
2. Allow topping to cool thoroughly, then chop into bite-size shards and sprinkle over the tart. Keep tart refrigerated, until just before serving. Serve at room temperature and enjoy!
This tart went over quite well with my co-workers, with a lot of raving feedback--- "YUMMMMM" and "NAILED IT!"-- along with some and some "you KILL mes!" paired with a head shake (like I said, it's rich). Personally, I thought it was an excellent blend of flavors, and the slightly soft chocolate was perfect with the hard candied pecans, even though I admittedly couldn't finish my slice. It would probably best be washed down with a hot cup of coffee, or as once co-worker suggested, a cold glass of milk.