Welcome to the season of overindulgence and excessive sweets! (And Happy Birthday, Mom!!) It’s the time of year bakers like me go crazy for. Either because we’re so excited, or because we’re just crazy from being in the kitchen so much. For me, it’s both. My senses are overwhelmed with creative ideas of holiday sweets to make, but there’s just simply not enough time in the short 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get it all done! So I do as much as I can to celebrate with ample peppermint and eggnog, but also try to make it to the gym as much as possible to balance it all out. Today I’m sharing one of the desserts I made for turkey day last week, but it’s certainly not restricted to the month of November. With a chocolate cookie crust, caramel filling, and crunchy hazelnuts it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy regardless of the season. And it’s not a pie either!
Caramel can be a scary thing, and I’ve had my fair share of run ins with the sweet stuff, so today I come bearing tips for you so you can make this tart to perfection! The recipe I followed (from Darla of Bakingdom) called for a 9″ tart pan, but I didn’t realize until I was almost done that my tart pan is actually 11″. So I ended up making another batch of caramel to fill up more of the pan. Problem was I didn’t have any more corn syrup for the second batch, so I substituted honey. Lesson learned – you can’t substitute for the corn syrup here! When it comes to candy, follow recipes and try not to make too many changes if you’re new to the game (like me). My second layer of caramel turned out grainier, lighter in color, and more solid in texture because of my substitution. Still yummy and pretty enough, but not the luscious, creamy caramel I was looking for. But I can attest that the recipe is amazing as-is, just pay attention to your tart pan size and load up on corn syrup for your holiday candy making :)
Cleaning the skins from the hazelnuts is probably the hardest part of this recipe – the crust dough comes together easily, the caramel doesn’t require a thermometer and still turns out beautifully (as long as you follow instructions!), and the whole thing bakes up into a fantastic flavor combination. The chocolate used to decorate the tart can be done in whatever style you want, mine was clearly themed for last week’s holiday, but simple squiggles would look great here too. This tart does speak for itself though – we all have to be thankful for the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, the makers of Nutella knew what they were doing. And caramel thrown in there doesn’t hurt either!!
Caramel Hazelnut Tart
Recipe adapted from Bakingdom
for the crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
2-1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
for the filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups whole hazelnuts, skinned
2 oz semisweet chocolate, melted for drizzling
for the crust:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to slow and gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Chill for 15 minutes.
Press the chilled dough into a 9" tart pan and use your fingers to press the dough into all of the corners and up the sides of the pan. Try to get it spread out as evenly as possible, then chill in the freezer for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake tart for 30 minutes. While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling.
for the filling:
Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir once to combine. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, and allow it to cook until it turns a warm honey color. Then remove the pan from heat, stir in the salt, and very carefully add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Slowly pour the cream into the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the hazelnuts and return the mixture over medium heat until it darkens a bit more in color to dark honey.
Transfer the caramel to the prepared shell and bake at 350 degrees for another 15 to 18 minutes, or until the caramel starts to boil. Cool the tart completely on a wire rack before decorating and serving.
To decorate the tart, melt chocolate and transfer to a piping bag or Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and decorated as desired.
PS – I also wanted to say THANK YOU to all of you who tuned in to watch my little segment on the Dr. Oz show yesterday. Here’s a screen shot from my TV debut, as I’m explaining how to make my tooth cupcakes. It was a really cool experience that I’ll never forget! Here’s the recipe also on the Dr. Oz website. Maybe eventually I’ll get the whole clip up on here somehow too :)