Saturday, June 19, 2010

Caramel-Hazelnut Mini Tartlets

The second I saw this recipe I knew it was destined to be in my kitchen. The thought of a shortbread type dough, caramel, hazelnuts, and chocolate was a combination I knew would be pointless to resist. It was a few months though before I found the time or opportunity to actually bake them, but it was definitely worth the wait! 

Although the original recipe said to blend the dough in a food processor, I ended up using a pastry blender, similar to making a pie crust, since my food processor is teeny tiny and I can't stand using it. I also found that it was easier to divide the dough evenly if I slightly rolled a ball and put it in each muffin tin, then went back and with a floured tart shaper, smooshed the dough into the tart shape.

Doesn't that caramel look amazing? I love the way brown sugar and butter look together when they are beginning to melt and combine. Kind of goofy, I know, but oh well.

It was an interesting process trying to husk the hazelnuts. I read online that if you bake them at 350 degrees for about 5-10 minutes and then dump them in a cloth towel and vigorously rub them together the husks will just fall off. Well, that wasn't exactly my experience. I did get a good arm workout though! As you can see, some of the husks came off but eventually I just gave up and chopped them into pieces anyway. It is a bit messy when you spoon the caramel into the tarts. It is easier if they are sitting on a wire rack and then you can wipe off any runoff before you put them on a pan to put them in the fridge.

It sure doesn't look like there are many of them when there are about 30 on a serving platter, but be ready for them to be gobbled up quickly. Enjoy!

Caramel-Hazelnut Mini Tartlets
Source: Epicurious

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hazelnuts, husked and toasted

Butter 30 metal or silicone mini muffin cups. Blend flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and blend until mixture resembles course crumbs. In a small bowl or cup, stir together 5 tablespoons whipping cream and vanilla; add to dough mixture until it begins to clump together. (Add more cream by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry).

Divide dough evenly between the 30 muffin cups. Press 2 teaspoonfuls of dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of each prepared mini muffin cup or press with a floured tart shaper. Pierce tartlet crusts with a fork. Freeze for 30 minutes (or cover and refrigerate for up to one day ahead).

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Bake frozen crusts until golden and baked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool crusts in muffin cups 10 minutes. Carefully loosen from muffin cups, transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Place 2 to 3 hazelnuts in each crust.

Caramel Filling:
1 1/3 cups golden brown sugar, packed
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons whipping cream
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons water, and salt in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to boil; boil about 2 minutes without stirring (mixture will bubble up and thicken slightly). Remove pan from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously); stir until smooth.

Pour caramel into 2-cup measuring cup; cool 10 minutes. Spoon caramel over hazelnuts in crusts, filling crusts almost to top. Refrigerate until caramel begins to firm up slightly, about an hour.

Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave. Drizzle melted chocolate over top of tartlets. Chill until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

**Mini tartlets can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let tartlets stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.**