Chocolate-dulce de leche tart

Chocolate-dulce de leche tart.

Need I say more? Probably not, but I will.

One of my favourite cookbook authors is David Lebovitz. I have been an avid reader of his blog for many years, own all his cookbooks and almost exclusively used his Paris Pastry app when planning our visit to Paris last year.

He brought out a new cookbook recently called My Paris Kitchen. It is stunningly beautiful and I love the stories that go with each recipe. He also wrote a very insightful blog post about the making of the book. You should read that post and then go and buy the book.

And then you should make this tart.

The first time I flicked through the book, I saw the photo for this tart and decided instantly that I had to make it. Luckily I had a jar of dulce de leche tucked away in the pantry. Past me was looking after future me. If you can’t find dulce de leche, you could try making your own. I’ve never made it, but if I was going to, I’d probably go with the oven method – I’ve heard too many horror stories about cans exploding to try the stovetop method. I make enough enough mess in the kitchen as it is! I’d also like to try this recipe one day in the very near future using this salted caramel filling.

There were a couple of times I wasn’t convinced that this recipe was going to turn out, but it did and it was spectacular. In the end, it was relatively easy, and, had I not made scrambled eggs along the way, would’ve been much quicker!

This recipe makes one 9-inch or 23cm tart.

Chocolate pastry

Ingredients

  • 85g salted butter at room temperature
  • 35g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 140g plain flour
  • 35g dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel

Filling

Ingredients

  • 230g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 310ml full fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 240g dulce de leche
  • Fleur de sel

Method:

Start by making the pastry. Beat the butter and icing sugar using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer (if you are lucky enough to have one) until smooth. Add the egg yolk and beat until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and flour and then add it to the butter mixture, mixing until the dough just comes together. Take the dough out, shape it into a disk and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Roll the dough out and place it in your tart tin. There is *just* enough pastry here to fill the tin. I was convinced there wasn’t going to be enough. Unless you have perfect rolling skills (which I don’t), you may need to trim part of the dough off in some areas and fill the gaps around the edges. Press together firmly so it all joins together well. Sprinkle the salt over the bottom of the tin and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

At this point you can turn the oven on to heat to 200°c.

Line the chilled pastry with aluminium foil and cover with pie weights/rice/dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the weights and bake for a further five minutes until set. (Yes, a little bit broke off the side of mine)

Tart Shell

Whilst the pastry is still warm, spread the dulce de leche over the bottom in an even layer. If you have a very thick dulce de leche, leave it on the hot base for a minute or two before you start to spread it as the heat will help soften it a bit.

Dulce de leche

Decrease the oven temperature to 150°c.

Now start the filling. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over some simmering water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove from the heat and set a mesh strainer (lined with muslin if you have it) over the top.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl and set aside. Heat the milk in a saucepan to warm, but not boiling, and very slowly start to whisk into the egg mixture, roughly a tablespoon at a time to begin with. If you’ve ever made ice cream before, the process here should be familiar.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until it thickens slightly. Be careful here as this step is quite quick and if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs and have to start this part again!

Pour the custard through the strainer into the chocolate, add the vanilla and stir well until nice and smooth.

Place the tart tin on a baking sheet lined with foil and slowly pour in the chocolate mixture. Try and pour it from a few spots, otherwise it will make a bit of a crater in the dulce de leche. Smooth the top and sprinkle it generously with fleur de sel.

Filled tart

Now the instructions say to “bake for 20 minutes, turn heat off and leave the tart in the oven with the door closed to glide to a finish for 25 minutes more”. After the 20 minutes it was still runny so I gave it another 10 or so minutes before turning the oven off. It was still wobbly at this point, but not runny. When I did take it out it was still fairly wobbly and I was convinced that when I cut into it, it would be a huge runny mess. But, as it started to cool, it started to set. And by the time we were ready to eat it, the chocolate mousse/custard was perfectly set and the dulce de leche was perfectly oozy.

Here’s the money shot to prove it 😉

Chocolate - dulce de leche tart

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A Simple Pleasure – Vanilla Bean Ice-cream

Some of you may recall the trouble I encountered with my KitchenAid ice-cream maker when attempting to make raspberry sorbet for the baked Alaska. I am pleased to say that I eventually managed to get the right parts for free and everything is now functioning perfectly. Happy days!

The first time I attempted making ice-cream in it was to make David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramel. Let’s just say it didn’t go quite to plan. Firstly, when I was cooking the custard, I didn’t read the instructions properly, so instead of heating it to 160-170 F, I tried to heat it to 160-170 C! I realised my mistake early on, but it had gone way past 71-77 C, which I think affected the way it froze (or didn’t). Then I burnt the caramel and, on re-making it, I didn’t measure the salt properly, which resulted in a semi-frozen way too salty caramel ice-cream. It wasn’t pretty.

So, for my next attempt, I decided to go back to basics and make a simple vanilla bean ice-cream. D and I recently went to Tahiti and Bora Bora where I managed to pick up some beautiful vanilla beans, so I figured I should put them to good use in a recipe that would make them the hero. I like to think of it as killing two birds with one stone!

The end result was a fantastically smooth and creamy ice-cream, perfect for any reason really. If only I had a freezer big enough to store it, I would always, always keep some on hand.

Recipe (as per David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

1. Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup (250ml) cream and salt in a saucepan and turn the heat off. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk and then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for 30 minutes.

2.Pour the remaining 1 cup (250ml) cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Just before the infusing time is up, prepare an ice bath by filling a larger bowl (larger than the one with just the cream in it) partially with ice and water as you’ll need it for step 5. You might like to test that the two bowls work together and that you haven’t filled the bottom bowl up too much – the last thing you want is the ice water overflowing into the top bowl and ruining your hard work.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Check the temperature of the milk – if it has gone cold, re-warm it a little. I found it to still be quite warm and used it straight from the pot. Gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour – the whisking is important here – if you don’t do it, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Stir the mixture constantly over a low-medium heat to cook it, scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula – you’ll know it’s cooked if you can run your finger through the custard on the back of the spatula and it draws a line.

5. Strain the custard into the bowl with the cream. Stir over the ice bath for 5-10 minutes until cool, add the vanilla extract and then refrigerate to chill thoroughly, preferably overnight. I always put clingwrap on top of the surface of the custard (not just covering the bowl) so that it doesn’t form a skin.

6. Remove the vanilla bean and churn the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I gave it 25-30 mins and the result was pretty near perfect, even if I do say so myself! You’ll get a perfectly smooth and soft ice-cream, which can be eaten (or taste tested) straight away, but for the best results, put it into the freezer for a few hours.

I think I’m ready to give the salted butter caramel ice-cream another go.