Simple Pleasures Made Simply Delicious: Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
Who doesn’t enjoy an individual dessert? By individual, I don’t mean your own slice of cake or pie, but a whole dessert that is a miniature representation of the standard larger version, thereby giving you all the textures you might not otherwise encounter, from edges to center. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes, if offered a brownie or slice of sheet cake, I can’t decide if I want the all gooey, moist
|Photo by Ali Kapustin|
center piece or if I’d prefer an edge with more crispness. Honestly, I’d like one of each, but that doesn’t seem very polite…
With tartlets, everyone wins. We can each enjoy a full crust and complete center, but in a manageable miniature version to make us feel less guilty. You’ll love this chocolate caramel pie for your next family meal or dessert with friends. It’s rich, creamy, and very decadent. Served with coffee, it provides a nice balance to a lighter meal or an indulgent finish to an already rich, heavy meal. That part is up to you!
I decided to search for and to explore this type of recipe after a visit to our nearest Fresh Market, where I purchased an individual chocolate caramel tart with sea salt. It was good, to be sure, but the price was high. When I got home, I began to search cookbooks and old recipes to see if I had something I could modify. After several Internet searches, some tweaking of my old recipes, and a few attempts to make a pie that’s faster to prepare, I settled on a modification that uses caramel and chocolate, but that adds peanuts.
Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
4- 6-inch individual tart shells, pre-baked and cooled (see directions below if necessary)
8 oz. soft caramels (individually wrapped candies)
1/3 cup salted peanuts
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup plus 3 tbs. heavy cream
2 tbs. butter
For caramel filling:
Unwrap caramels and combine with 2 tbs. butter and 3 tbs. heavy cream in a mixing bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth. Use a whisk if needed. Add the peanuts and stir to coat. Divide into the four pie shells. Refrigerate.
For chocolate ganache layer:
Place the chocolate chips in a medium mixing bowl, and pour 1 cup of heavy cream into a small saucepan. Heat cream until it simmers. Pour hot cream over chocolate and allow to rest for a minute to soften the chocolate. Whisk chocolate and cream together until shiny and smooth. Pour chocolate evenly over four caramel pies. Refrigerate at least 3 hours to firm.
Sprinkle with sea salt and add a dollop of whipped cream or more salted peanuts before serving.
To pre-bake an empty pie shell:
Line the insides of piecrusts with aluminum foil and pour dry (uncooked) kidney beans into each foil-lined pie shell. (The weight of the beans will keep the pie from bubbling up while pre-baking.) Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil lining and beans. Allow to cool before filling.