One day, carpooling on the way home from work with Trevor and Joe, we decided to indulge a little with a stop at New York Cupcakes, our favourite cupcake joint in town. (Fellow Seattlites, if you like Cupcake Royale better, I can accept that. If you like Trophy better? I’m afraid we need to have a talk.) “Indulge” may be the wrong word because it makes it sound as if it’s unusual for us to stop and get cupcakes on the way home when we carpool.
It’s usual for us to stop and get cupcakes on the way home when we carpool.
Luckily for my waistline, Joe has some crazy work hours most of the time and we don’t usually carpool.
Anyway, this one particular day the cupcake shop was closed early due to an impending snow “storm” (2-in snow = “storm” in Seattle). I can still picture it clearly, Joe reading the handwritten sign, raising his fists in the air and howling in agony outside their doors at his discovery. A lone worker cleaning up shop heard his pained exclamation and quickly moved to the door, a box in hand. It was box full of half a dozen cupcakes.
Half a dozen free cupcakes, in apology for the early closure.
They all were the same flavour, but we didn’t care, they were free. Also, as we soon discovered, it was the sort of flavour you didn’t mind having six of. A moist chocolate cake, frosted with chocolate buttercream, topped with a layer of crushed pretzels and drizzled with caramel. Through a mouthful of cupcake, I asked Trevor what his opinion was of a full-sized chocolate/caramel/pretzel layer cake. He turned me down in favour of a different idea.
“A chocolate pretzel pie” he declared.
I told him he was crazy, mostly because that’s my response to most things he says.
I was wrong.
Was I ever so very wrong.
I’m pretty sure this is the best tart I have ever made.
A crunchy, salty pretzel crust, topped with smooth, rich ganache, topped with gooey, sweet caramel and finished with crushed pretzels and a drizzling of more ganache.
I’m not entirely sure that I didn’t marry this man for this singular moment, somewhere deep inside knowing he would one day bring me to make this.
If that isn’t a good foundation for marriage, I don’t know what is.
Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Tart
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed thin pretzels (3 1/2 ounces) plus an additional 1/4 cup for topping
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 60% Ghiradelli)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Crust: In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with 3/4 cup of the pretzels and the confectioners’ sugar at low speed until creamy. Beat in the flour and egg. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of pretzels, being sure to leave some pretzel pieces intact. Flatten the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap (dough will be very sticky) and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap to a 12-inch round. Peel off the top sheet and invert the dough over a 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the corners and patch any tears by trimming the overhanging dough and pressing it into holes. Refrigerate the shell for 30 minutes or until firm.
- Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for about 30 minutes, until nearly set. Remove the parchment and weights and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the tart shell is firm; cover the edge with foil if it darkens too much. Let the shell cool completely. Brush the melted chocolate over the bottom and up the side and refrigerate for 10 minutes, until set.
- Ganache: Meanwhile, place chocolate in a heat safe bowl. Bring cream to boil in heavy small saucepan. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute and then whisk until smooth. Spread 1 cup chocolate filling in prepared crust. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. Reserve remaining filling in saucepan.
- Caramel: Stir sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until syrup is amber color, brushing down sides with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cream, butter, vanilla and salt (mixture will bubble up). Return pan to very low heat; stir until caramel is smooth and color deepens, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate uncovered until cold but not firm, about 10-20 minutes.
- Spoon caramel over ganache, leveling with a spatula. Sprinkle 1/4 cup crushed pretzels over caramel. Pipe of drizzle reserved chocolate filling decoratively over caramel and pretzels (if chocolate is too firm to pour, warm slightly over low heat). Refrigerate tart until caramel is firm, at least 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover keep chilled.)