I’m often asked whether I prefer cooking or baking and until I started this blog, I’d have said it was about half and half. However, a quick count of the ‘sweet’ recipes on here would suggest I tend a little more towards baking. This one’s a bit of a special dessert. Think of all the most beautiful elements of a great pudding – rich chocolate ganache; crisp, crumbly pastry; sumptuous, slightly bitter and nutty caramel with a hot aftertaste from the chilli – they’re all here.
I’d love to lay claim to the whole idea of this tart as it basically includes everything I find especially yummy, but I have to acknowledge the great Thomasina Miers, as it’s from her ‘Chilli Notes’ book. All I’ve changed is using a 50/50 mix of milk and dark chocolate rather than 300g dark, as this better suits my tastes and those of my teenage sons (who ‘specially requested this dessert last week).
By no stretch of the imagination is this a ‘quick pud’. You could save a little time by using 375g ready rolled shortcrust pastry instead of making your own. In truth though, not a lot, as this is made in a food processor and takes just a few minutes. It’s one for a special occasion – a girls night in would be ideal – I don’t know any of my female friends who don’t love this type of dessert, especially with a dollop of mascarpone or really good vanilla ice-cream.
Serves 6-8 | all in all about an hour and a half
Sweet shortcrust pastry
- 225g plain flour
- 110g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1tbsp water
- 50g macadamia nuts
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 150g caster sugar
- 50g unsalted butter
- 75g soft brown sugar
- 3 large tbsps golden syrup
- 150g creme fraiche
- 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 70g caster sugar
- 300g chocolate ( I use 150g each good quality milk and dark) broken into small pieces
- 200g unsalted butter, diced
- 60g plain flour
You will also need: a sugar thermometer and a 30cm loose bottomed flan tin
- If you’re making the pastry, put the flour and caster sugar in a food processor and add the cubed butter. Pulse it until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the egg with a tablespoon of water and add this to the processor. Pulse again until the mix almost comes together, but don’t overmix – you can bring it together into a ball using your hands.
- Wrap the ball of pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins or so while you make the caramel.
- In a small frying pan, lightly toast the macadamia nuts and then roughly chop them.
- To a saucepan, add the chilli flakes, caster sugar and 25ml water to get started on the caramel. Place this over a medium/high heat and once the sugar starts to darken here and there, start swirling the pan around to mix it in – don’t stir whatever you do. You want everything to liquify and to turn a reddish brown, so keep swirling until that happens, but be careful it doesn’t burn or start to smoke.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. Now you can stir to mix it in. Then add the sugar, syrup, creme fraiche and salt and place back over a medium heat. Stir continuously and, using a sugar thermometer, take it to 110c. Now remove from the heat and add the chopped nuts.
- Preheat the over to 180c/350f/gas 4 and let’s get the pastry ready. There’s no need to butter your flan tin, but do use one with a removable base. Remove the pastry ball from the fridge and on a floured surface, roll it out to 2-3 mm thick as close to circular as you can (the trick is to give it a small clockwise turn after every roll). Line the tin with the pastry and press it down into all the edges and the fluted sides of the tin. Use a fork to prick holes over the base and if you have to trim, leave at least a good cm or two hanging over as it may shrink a little while baking.
- Place some baking paper on top of the pastry and fill with baking beans or rice. Blind bake for 25 mins, then remove the beans/rice, trim the edges, brush with beaten egg and bake for another 5-10 mins until golden. This is how you ensure lovely crisp pastry that crumbles in your mouth and avoid a ‘soggy bottom’.
- While your pastry is baking, get on with the ganache. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar until pale and fluffy – ideally in a free-standing mixer so you can get on with the chocolate.
- Put the chocolate pieces and diced butter in a glass bowl over a small pot of simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and stir a few times until it’s all melted and combined.
- Take it off the heat and let it cool for a minute or two, then fold in the egg mixture and finally the flour. If it’s too hot it may split, in which case, beat in a tbsp or two of cream.
- Once your pastry case is ready, reduce the oven temperature to 170c/335f/gas 3. Spoon the caramel mix over the bottom of the pastry case to cover – you probably won’t need it all, so keep any leftover nutty caramel in a sealed container in the fridge. It’s delicious reheated and spooned over ice-cream.
- Now pour the chocolate mix over the caramel to fill the pastry case and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until just set. Don’t worry if it has a little bit of wobble – it will firm up as it cools.
- Set the tart case on a tin of beans (or anything) to remove the outer ring and allow the tart to cool on a rack before slicing and scoffing with cream, ice-cream, mascarpone, Greek yoghurt or whatever takes your fancy.