Caramel cremeux and chocolate ganache hidden within chocolate shortcrust pastry cookies make up this wonderful tart inspired by renowned pastry chef Amaury Guichon. And for an even bigger wow factor, decorate it with whipped caramel ganache.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Unique: These tarts always make a splash! They are pretty, original and look much harder to make than they actually are.
- No tart pan: If you love tarts but don’t like lining the pans, this is the perfect recipe for you! We’ll be cutting the tart dough like cookies. Simple!
- Customizable: You can adjust the recipe depending on how much time you have and how sweet you want your dessert to be. I used whipped caramel ganache to decorate the tarts but you can easily skip it. You can also use the different components to create other desserts. The chocolate shortcrust pastry can be used with the ganache to make cookies. The cremeux can be frozen in silicone mini Bundt cake pans and then covered in chocolate glaze.
What Is Caramel Cremeux?
A cremeux is composed of a crème Anglaise custard base that can be thickened with gelatin, butter or chocolate if making chocolate cremeux. To make caramel cremeux, we first start by caramelizing the sugar instead of adding it to the egg yolks.
Here’s a quick overview for making caramel cremeux:
- Caramelize the sugar.
- Add hot cream to make caramel sauce.
- Whisk egg yolks and hot milk in a bowl.
- Add the caramel sauce to the egg mixture.
- Cook the mixture until thickened (thus making caramel crème Anglaise).
- Add the bloomed gelatin to make cremeux.
- Pour into desired molds.
This caramel cremeux recipe was actually adapted from an ice cream caramel base. I wanted to make a cremeux that wasn’t overly sweet and was light, creamy and somewhat refreshing like ice cream.
Note: I’ve kept the cremeux plain in the picture above to show you the texture but it will tend to darken and dry out if it isn’t protected with glaze.
- Chocolate shortcrust pastry: You’ll need one portion of this dough which I previously covered in detail. Head over there if you’d like to see step-by-step pictures.
- Egg yolks: For flavor, richness and to thicken the custard. It’s easier to separate the eggs when they are cold. But then let the yolks warm up at room temperature before using them.
- Sugar: We’ll be making dry caramel today, where the sugar is heated (without water) in a thin layer until caramelized.
- Heavy cream: Use cream with a 35% fat content to ensure the cremeux has the right consistency.
- Milk: I like to use a combination of whole milk and heavy cream (instead of all heavy cream) for a lighter, more refreshing cremeux. Milk, with a higher water content than heavy cream, will cool down more when chilled.
- Gelatin: To set the cremeux. If you don’t use enough, the cremeux will be too runny and impossible to use in this kind of tart. If you use too much, the cremeux will be rubbery and won’t have a pleasant mouthfeel.
- Chocolate: You’ll need dark chocolate (65% cocoa) for the ganache. Try to use chocolate with a similar cocoa percentage so you get the right consistency.
- Butter: A little bit of butter for even more flavor, richness and a softer ganache.
- Salt: A pinch of salt (or to taste) to bring out all the flavors.
- Caramel whipped ganache: Completely optional but looks very pretty when piped with a St Honore tip. If you want to make some, you can find the ingredients as well as step-by-step instructions in the caramel ganache post.
This recipe isn’t complicated to make but it does involve a few steps. Here’s how you can break it down to simplify things:
Prepare the chocolate tart dough and chill it.
- Bake the tarts. Let them cool down at room temperature then store them in an airtight container (room temperature).
- Prepare the caramel cremeux and freeze it.
- Prepare the caramel ganache if using and chill it.
- Prepare the chocolate ganache. Let it firm up.
- Assemble the tarts and chill.
- Whip the caramel ganache and decorate the tarts.
Okay, time to make some delicious tarts!
- Roll out the cold chocolate shortcrust pastry between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of about 3 mm (1/8 inch). If you have limited freezer/fridge space, divide the dough in two before rolling it out. You’ll have to freeze it rolled out before baking.
- Cut at least 16 circles in the dough using an 8 cm (3 1/6 inch) round cookie cutter. Tip: Keep the circles as close to each other as possible to avoid having to roll out the dough again.
- Using a sharp knife, divide each circle in half. Tip: If the dough is too soft, freeze it briefly or chill it once more until firm.
- Cover with parchment paper again and place on a flat surface (I use a large baking sheet). Freeze for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F), conventional setting.
- Place the half circles of dough on a baking sheet lined with a perforated silicone mat (or parchment paper), spacing them about 2 cm (3/4 inch) apart. You might need two baking sheets but bake one sheet at a time and keep the rest of the dough in the freezer until needed.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until slightly firm. Cool down briefly on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool down completely. Store in an airtight container (once completely cooled down) at room temperature.
- Line a cupcake pan with 8 thick, high-quality paper liners or cling film. Set aside. Don’t use thin paper liners as they might stick to the cremeux. Using cling film will ensure they release easily but will be a bit more time-consuming.
- Heat the heavy cream until hot and set aside. We’ll be pouring the hot cream over the caramel. If you have a microwave, the best thing to do is to have the cold cream ready in a microwable cup. Heat it just before the caramel reaches the desired color so that it is still hot when poured over the caramel.
- Pour the sugar evenly, creating a thin layer in a medium-sized saucepan. It’s best to use a light-colored, heavy-bottomed saucepan with high sides when making caramel.
- Place over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, lower the heat to low.
- Keep cooking the sugar until it reaches an amber color and the sugar has fully dissolved. Lower the heat even further if the sugar is changing color quickly and hasn’t fully melted. Note that the darker the caramel, the more bitter it will be. Tip: It’s best not to stir until most of the sugar has melted. Then you can gently push the undissolved sugar towards the melted sugar with a heatproof spatula.
- Remove the caramel from the heat. Keeping the pan far from you, pour a small amount of heavy cream on the caramel. Stir immediately with a heatproof spatula. The extremely hot caramel will bubble up so please be very careful not to burn yourself.
- Add the remaining cream in several additions, stirring in-between until completely smooth. Set aside to cool down slightly. Don’t worry if there is a little bit of caramel stuck on the spatula. It will eventually dissolve by the time you finish the caramel cremeux.
Tip: Make sure the cream is hot and add it very slowly to avoid getting lumps in the caramel. Return to low heat if needed to dissolve any caramel pieces, stirring until completely smooth. Just note that the longer you cook the sauce, the thicker it will be. If there are too many lumps and you end up reheating it for long, too much liquid will evaporate. The amount of gelatin used might have to be decreased to avoid getting a rubbery cremeux.
- Soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes. Tip: Make sure the sheets are not stuck together so they are fully hydrated.
- Meanwhile, briefly whisk the egg yolks in a medium-sized bowl.
- Heat the milk until simmering (not boiling) then gradually pour it over the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Don’t pour the milk all at once. We want to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs without cooking them.
- Slowly add the caramel sauce, whisking constantly. If your bowl isn’t big enough, you can just add about half of the caramel sauce.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (or a heatproof spatula), until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat. This step should take about 7 minutes.
To check if it’s ready: Slightly tip the saucepan and dip a spoon in to check the consistency. Alternatively, insert a digital thermometer without touching the bottom of the saucepan (which is hotter). The temperature should be at around 82°C (180°F). Make sure it does not exceed 85°C (185°F).
- Let it cool down for 2 minutes then squeeze the gelatin to get rid of excess water and whisk it in the cremeux. Add a pinch of salt (or to taste).
You should have about 380 g (13.4 oz.) of cremeux for 2 sheets of gelatin. If you have much less than that from cooking the caramel sauce too long, adjust the amount of gelatin accordingly.
- Pour into a fine-mesh strainer placed over a large measuring cup.
- Divide the caramel cremeux evenly between the 8 cavities of the cupcake pan, filling them about 3/4 of the way.
- Cool down slightly at room temperature. Cover and freeze for 1 hour (or until just firm enough to hold) in the pan on a flat surface. Transfer to a freezer safe container (with the paper liner). If you leave them in the pan, the paper liners will start to get wet and stick to the pan.
- Return to the freezer until completely frozen and easy to handle, about 2 more hours (or overnight).
- Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized bowl. Melt in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring in-between.
- Heat the heavy cream until hot (not boiling). I simply heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds.
- Pour over the melted chocolate in 3 additions, stirring from the center then outwards until completely smooth.
- Mix in the softened butter. If you are having trouble incorporating the butter you can use an immersion blender.
- Cover and let it firm up at room temperature for about an hour, occasionally stirring and checking the consistency. It is ready to use when it is spreadable. You can chill it (once cooled down completely) if you are in a rush or if your kitchen is too warm. If it firms up too much, let it warm up slightly again at room temperature.
Assembling the tart
- Spread a little bit of ganache on one side of the tart crust/cookie using a knife. Repeat for all the cookies. Keep a paper towel handy as assembling the tart can get a bit messy!
- Take the caramel cremeux out of the freezer (one portion at a time). Warm it up with your hands for a few seconds then carefully peel off the paper liner (or cling film). If the paper starts to rip, let it warm up a little more before trying again.
- Cut the cremeux in two using a sharp knife and place one half on a cookie. Spread (or pipe) chocolate ganache around the cremeux to seal it in then top with another cookie.
- Smooth the ganache if needed then place the tart in a container lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other tarts. It’s best to store the tarts horizontally, tart side down to ensure the ganache doesn’t stick to the paper.
- Chill until ready to serve. Decorate with whipped caramel ganache just before serving, if desired. Enjoy!
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1Gisslen, W. (2005). Professional Baking (4th ed.). Wiley