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    Interview with Alex Kratena on Cocktail Trends


    The world of drinks is booming. Trendy spots seem to be popping up left and right and cocktail hipsters with big beards and suspenders are roaming wild. Cocktails trends are moving at a pace I can’t keep up with. So, I decided to sit down with the man who not only keeps up with the trends but sets a couple of his own along the way: Mr. Alex Kratena.

    Alex was awarded the Best International Bartender at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012 and Bar Personality of the Year 2013 by Imbibe Magazine. He is the former Head Bartender of Artesian, which under his stewardship was recognized as Number 1 in the World’s 50 Best Bar Awards by Drinks International in 2015, for the fourth consecutive year.

    “I love drinking everything non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Most of my twenties, my mother couldn’t understand the concept of somebody traveling the world and making drinks. She actually thought I was a drug dealer,” Alex says jokingly. “When I was 16 I left my parents’ house and started to work in bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Slowly but surely I explored the world of cocktails and it was very intriguing. The range of products you can work with is fascinating and always developing.”


    Sharing Drinks Knowledge

    Nowadays, Alex runs a small consulting company together with Monica Berg and Simone CaporaleHe says the company works with everything from product development and training to marketing strategies and designing new shops. The big question of ‘are we ever going to see Alex behind the counter again’ is quickly answered, “our main goal is to open our own bar”. 

    When it comes to the current state of drinks, Alex feels like the education of future bartenders is key. “When we talk about the global bar scene, we can all agree that it’s constantly changing. The funny thing is that the only thing that never seems to change is the way we teach younger generations about making drinks.”

    Alex is also one of the founders of P(OUR), a not-for-profit organization, which is all about sharing drinks knowledge. They currently have a P(OUR) Community Project focused on prevention of poverty in the northeast Peru.

    Cocktail as a unique experience

    Talking about the current trends in the world of drinks Alex thinks bartenders and bars have reached a stage where they can do what they really enjoy. “You see some amazing bars really focusing on local and seasonal produce. With places like the Scout in London that only uses British produce. The Native bar in Singapore where everything from the design of the chairs to music and ingredients in the drinks is from the region. So, I think there is a big focus on individuality.

    The top cocktail bars seem to be following in the footsteps of the best restaurants in the world. A unique location and unique experience with dishes, or drinks in this case, that you can’t try anywhere else. “I think the next step for bars is to go towards this direction”, says Alex.

    What makes a good drink?

    “It’s balance. Balance is the key to life. Many people wonder ‘what is balance’? Balance is the harmonious relationship amongst the individual components. A great cocktail is affected by light, music, the scent in the air – all the way to the glass, the ice you use, how you combine the flavors, what is the composition, what is the texture etc. There are lots of different elements. As you become more knowledgeable in crafting those experiences, you pay more attention to every single one of these elements and thus create better cocktails.”

    A perfect cocktail doesn’t exist but it’s beautiful to every day try to get a little bit closer,” Alex continues.

    Alex is quite candid about his favorite drink, “to be honest with you, my favorite cocktail is the one in my glass. I’m really passionate about everything and I see no reason to restrict myself. I’m always in the mood for something different.”

    For a nice aperitif drink Alex suggests the readers of FineDiningLovers.com:

    2cl Absolut Elyx
    2cl Vermouth Rosso
    2cl Campari
    1 Squeezed tangerine

    Shake it and top it up with tonic water. “This perfect aperitif is like if a Negroni, Americano and Vodka Tonic had a baby.”
     

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    PIZZA WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS | Cookstr.com



    Updated December 13, 2017


    This image courtesy of Mats Widen

    This is Mats’s favorite pizza, inspired by one he ate at Motorino Pizza in New York City. The star ingredient is Brussels sprouts, and for Mats, they opened a world of new possibilities for pizza ingredients. This was also the pizza that introduced him to white pizza (pizza bianca). He, like many of us, grew up with tomato sauce on all pizzas, but today his pizza of choice is always tomato-free.

    Tip

    Mats prefers fresh Brussels sprouts on this pizza but says that frozen will work fine. This will also give you the opportunity to make this pizza year-round.

    Serves1 (12-inch [30-cm]) pizza

    Cooking MethodBaking, Sauteeing

    OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cocktail Party, Formal Dinner Party

    Recipe CourseAntipasto/mezze, Appetizer, Hors D’oeuvre, Main Course

    Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free

    Taste and TextureCheesy, Chewy, Savory, Smoky

    Ingredients

    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 ounces (60 g) Brussels sprouts
    • Our Favorite Dough, 9 ounces (260 g) 
    • 2 ounces (60 g) fresh mozzarella, shredded
    • 1 ounce (30 g) fresh ricotta
    • 1 ounce (30 g) Pecorino Romano, crumbled
    • 1 ounce (30 g) smoked pancetta, thinly sliced (alternatives: bacon or unsmoked pancetta)
    • 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
    • Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating
    • Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
    • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

    Instructions

    1. Place a baking stone in the oven, and preheat to 500°F (260°C) or higher for 1 hour.

    2. Bring 1 quart water with sea salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan.

    3. While the water is heating, rinse the Brussels sprouts in cold water, and remove any wilted leaves. Place the Brussels sprouts in the boiling water, and cook for 2 minutes.

    4. Remove the Brussels sprouts with a slotted spoon, and place them in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes to cool. Pour off the water.

    5. Stretch the pizza dough to a diameter of 12 inches (30 cm).

    6. Distribute the mozzarella, ricotta, and Pecorino Romano over the pizza. Distribute the pancetta and garlic over the pizza.

    7. Peel the leaves from the Brussels sprouts, and place them on the pizza.

    8. Bake the pizza on the baking stone until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling.

    9. Remove the pizza from the oven, and place it on a plate. Top with coarsely ground black pepper and a bit of olive oil, and serve.


    YOUR RECENTLY VIEWED RECIPES




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    Instant Pot Brown Rice Bowl with Chickpeas Recipe


    The first thing I made in my new Instant Pot was beans and rice. Not a surprise to anyone who has been a longtime reader here 😉 The beans were chickpeas, the rice was brown, and it was spiked with a dollop of curry paste. The resulting brown rice bowl was one of the simplest lunches I’ve cooked in a long time – effortless, fragrant, and good. Toppings were pulled from whatever was around – peanuts, herbs, sliced avocado, and scallions.

    Instant Pot Brown Rice Bowl with Chickpeas


    My favorite part about the whole thing? Keeping the rice separate from the beans while they were cooking. To be honest, I wasn’t sure this was really work going to work, certainly not on first attempt, but it was legit good! Have a look at the photos below. Here’s how it works. You can place the beans in an oven-proof or stainless steel container, and insert those into your electric cooker / Instant Pot – they cook at the same time, but aren’t combined. This, in my mind, opens up a world of possibilities. It’s a “pot-in-pot” or “PIP” approach.

    Instant Pot Brown Rice Bowl with Chickpeas

    If you have an Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker), and you want to cook a simple brown rice bowl, this is a good place to start. You’ll have to figure out two containers that will stack, without bumping up against the lid of your cooker. I tested this a few more times, which was easy because everything goes so quickly! And I’m writing up the recipe and process using brown basmati rice and (soaked) chickpeas.

    Instant Pot Brown Rice Bowl with Chickpeas

    Let me know how it goes! Also, for quick reference I’m putting all my Instant Pot recipes in one spot. Let me know if you have any requests. xx, -h

    HS: High pressure for 22 minutes in the Instant Pot is what you’re after here. If you’re using an alternate electric cooker, you may have to adjust the timing accordingly (and make note for next time!).

    2 cups water
    1-2 tablespoons of a favorite curry paste, to taste
    1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
    1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice, rinsed
    1 cup chickpeas, soaked for 4-6 hours, or overnight

    to serve toppings (any or all of the following): toasted peanuts, green onions, avocado, cilantro, hot sauce, quick pickled red onions

    This recipe uses the pot-in-pot method. You’ll need two oven-proof or stainless steel containers you can stack inside your Instant Pot without obstructing the lid. I use two Pyrex containers (pictured above).

    Pour the two cups of water into the first container, the one you’re going to use for rice. Whisk in the curry paste, and the salt. Taste, and add more salt or curry paste if you like. Add the rice. Place the chickpeas in a second container (no additional water in this container).

    Arrange the steamer rack in the bottom of the Instant Pot, add 2 cups of water. Put the chickpea container inside the pot, and stack the rice container on top of the chickpea container. Close the pot, close the valve, and PRESSURE cook for 22 MINUTES. Let the pressure naturally release for ten minutes, and then, carefully, quick release. Carefully remove from the pot.

    Serve each bowl with brown rice, some chickpeas, and all sorts of toppings – avocado, peanuts, herbs, and scallions. Whatever you have on hand! There are suggestions in the ingredient list. A dollop of salted yogurt is also delicious here.

    Alternative: Sprouted brown rice bowl – bump the timing up to 26 minutes, everything else remains the same.

    Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 22 min



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    How to Make Vegan Dark Chocolate


    My FAVORITE DIY Vegan Dark Chocolate! 5 ingredients, naturally sweetened, SO creamy and rich! #vegan #plantbased #dessert #healthy #recipe #glutenfree #chocolate #minimalistbaker

    Friends! You probably know this by now, but I have a thing for chocolate (e.g. Chocolate Pancakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brownies, Chocolate Energy Bites, Chocolate Cake). The obsession is real.

    I’ve even shared how to make vegan chocolate before! But I couldn’t help but share my most recent obsession: my go-to dark chocolate recipe when cravings hit. Let’s make chocolate!

    My FAVORITE DIY Vegan Dark Chocolate! 5 ingredients, naturally sweetened, SO creamy and rich! #vegan #plantbased #dessert #healthy #recipe #glutenfree #chocolate #minimalistbaker

    This 5-ingredient recipe is very similar to the coating for my Tahini-Stuffed Dates (a.k.a. Tahini Bombs!).

    The base starts with a mixture of a little coconut oil and mostly cocoa butter, which adds an intensely delicious chocolate aroma and flavor and a lovely creaminess to the chocolate. I’ve found that, if you only use coconut oil, the chocolate is almost too melty to hold on to and way too hard right out of the freezer. This combination makes the perfect base!

    My FAVORITE DIY Vegan Dark Chocolate! 5 ingredients, naturally sweetened, SO creamy and rich! #vegan #plantbased #dessert #healthy #recipe #glutenfree #chocolate #minimalistbaker

    The next step is cocoa powder or cacao powder. I’ve found that mixing the two gives the perfect chocolaty flavor that isn’t too overwhelming. Plus, cacao powder can be quite expensive, so I like adding only 1/2 cup instead of 1 full cup (#savings).

    To keep things naturally sweetened, I go for just a little maple syrup. You could also sub stevia to keep these entirely sugar-free or agave if you don’t have maple syrup. But, for best flavor and subtle sweetness, maple syrup is my go-to.

    Two optional flavor add-ins are sea salt and vanilla extract, which contrast the sweetness well and complement the flavor of the chocolate beautifully. Not essential, but they certainly take these to next-level dreaminess.

    My FAVORITE DIY Vegan Dark Chocolate! 5 ingredients, naturally sweetened, SO creamy and rich! #vegan #plantbased #dessert #healthy #recipe #glutenfree #chocolate #minimalistbaker

    Once your chocolate is mixed, I like pouring mine into molds and topping with cacao nibs, which add that beautiful texture and a bit of crunch to the bar. Where my fellow texture freaks at? Creamy + crunchy = dream factor 1,000.

    And that’s it! Freeze until eat and enjoy.

    My FAVORITE DIY Vegan Dark Chocolate! 5 ingredients, naturally sweetened, SO creamy and rich! #vegan #plantbased #dessert #healthy #recipe #glutenfree #chocolate #minimalistbaker

    I hope you all LOVE my go-to dark chocolate bars. They’re:

    Creamy
    Rich
    Flavorful
    Chocolaty
    Perfectly sweet
    Easy to make
    Customizable
    & Seriously delicious

    These are the perfect naturally sweetened, healthier dessert to have on hand for treats throughout the week. I like keeping mine in the refrigerator and breaking off a bite after dinner. The sugar content is so low (only 2g  sugar per half-bar serving!) that I don’t feel bad at all for indulging daily.

    If you’re into simple chocolaty things, also be sure to check out my 2-Ingredient Chocolate Truffles, Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Shake, Tahini Bombs, Coconut Cacao Tahini Snack Bites, and Healthy Vegan Fudge! And if you’re getting into the holiday spirit, also check out my Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes, Peppermint Drinking Chocolate, and Peppermint Chocolate Brownies!

    If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

    My FAVORITE DIY Vegan Dark Chocolate! 5 ingredients, naturally sweetened, SO creamy and rich! #vegan #plantbased #dessert #healthy #recipe #glutenfree #chocolate #minimalistbaker

    5-Ingredient Vegan Dark Chocolate

     

    Total time

     

    A healthy, easy 5-ingredient recipe for homemade dark chocolate made with cocoa butter and cacao powder and naturally sweetened with maple syrup!

    Author:

    Recipe type: Dessert

    Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free

    Serves: 12

    Ingredients

    CHOCOLATE

    • 1 1/4 cup (~210 g) finely chopped cocoa butter*
    • 2 Tbsp (30 g) coconut oil
    • 1 cup (96 g) cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (I prefer using half cocoa, half cacao for flavor)
    • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup*
    • optional: healthy pinch sea salt
    • optional: 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3 Tbsp (15 g) cacao nibs

    Instructions

    1. Add 2 inches of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a rolling simmer over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to medium and set a medium glass or ceramic mixing bowl on top, making sure it’s not touching the water (this creates a “double boiler”).
    2. To the mixing bowl, add finely chopped cocoa butter and coconut oil and let melt, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or whisk – about 2-3 minutes.
    3. Once melted, carefully remove bowl from heat (turn off stovetop), add the cacao or cocoa powder to a fine mesh strainer (like this one), and sift it over the melted cocoa butter (otherwise, it can be clumpy). Use a whisk or wooden spoon to mix until fluid and thoroughly combined.
    4. Add maple syrup and stir once more. At this time, you can also add the (optional) salt and vanilla .
    5. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. I added about 2 Tbsp maple syrup total, but it’s completely up to you and how sweet you prefer your chocolate. Add more vanilla to enhance the chocolate flavor and add depth of flavor, salt for saltiness, or more cacao/cocoa powder for intense chocolate flavor.
    6. Pour your chocolate into molds of choice. I like these bar molds, but you can also just pour into paper cupcake liners, or an 8×8-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper. At this point, sprinkle on your cacao nibs. I also sprinkle on a pinch more salt.
    7. Carefully transfer to freezer (I like setting mine on a baking sheet or plate so it lies flat and is stable while chilling). Remove from molds once the chocolate is set – about 1 hour.
    8. Store covered in the refrigerator for several weeks or in the freezer for even longer. Let come to almost room temperature before enjoying, as it’s creamier and the flavors are more pronounced when it’s warmed up a bit.

    Notes

    *If you can’t find or don’t have cocoa butter, you can try subbing it all for coconut oil but I’ve found the results to be less than ideal as the coconut oil makes the bars too oily and they lack creaminess.
    *To keep things naturally sweetened, I go for just a little maple syrup. You could also sub stevia to keep these entirely sugar-free, or agave if you don’t have maple syrup. But for best flavor and subtle sweetness, maple syrup is my go-to.
    *Nutrition information is for half of 1 bar (of 6 total bars).

    Nutrition Information

    Serving size: 1 of 12 servings Calories: 194 Fat: 20.5 g Saturated fat: 12.5 g Carbohydrates: 7 g Sugar: 2 g Sodium: 0 mg Fiber: 2.9 g Protein: 1.8 g

    3.5.3226

     



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    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone Recipe



    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone

    I always talk about how much I love soup and now that it’s winter (in Chicago! Ack!), I’m more obsessed than ever. I love making it, I love eating it, I love freezing it… and I love reheating it just to enjoy eating it all over again. There’s never a day that I’m not in the mood for soup – it just makes my body and soul feel so nourished and happy. This blog could have been titled: Love and Lemons and Soup because I first fell in love with cooking by routinely making soup on Sundays.

    This was an especially fun soup to make because how pretty are these veggie noodles?! Usually I put pasta in my minestrone, but this time I used spiralized zucchini and sweet potato noodles that I made using the KitchenAid® Spiralizer Attachment. I might never make soup with regular noodles again.


    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone

    Sharp-eyed readers may notice that we’ve replaced our blue KitchenAid® Artisan® Stand Mixer with a shiny new lemony yellow (Majestic Yellow, to be exact) one. We loved the old one, but with all the blue in the new kitchen, now seemed like as good a time as any for a change. Plus, I’ll never say no to lemon-colored anything 🙂

    I love this new Spiralizer attachment, and here’s why:

    1. It’s easy to clean(!) because only two small pieces of it actually touch the vegetable
    2. It’s simple to use – once you get the hang of putting the attachment on, you just start the mixer and voila! Vegetable noodles.
    3. It’s fast. Once I load a vegetable in and start, the whole thing is spiralized in seconds.


    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone

    I know what you’re thinking – “that’s one long noodle, I bet you made a mess of yourself trying to eat it.” Well I trimmed it into smaller more bite-sized pieces before adding to the soup, I just thought that the one noodle was super fun.

    The rest of the soup is pretty simple but so delicious – carrots, tomatoes, broth white beans, chickpeas… and it’s flavored with generous amounts of rosemary and fresh thyme. Don’t forget to tie up your thyme so you can dig it out easily before you eat it! (Alternatively, you can pull the leaves off the thyme sprigs, but I like to save time and bundle it.


    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone



    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone



    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone



    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone

    This soup reheats perfectly – the veggies stay firm and the broth just tastes better and better. Enjoy it for days like we did!

    Zucchini & Sweet Potato Noodle Minestrone

     

    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
    • 2 carrots, chopped
    • ½ teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary (about 2 tablespoons)
    • 15 to 20 thyme sprigs, tied in a bundle
    • 6 cups vegetable broth
    • 2 (14-oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 (14-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 1 medium sweet potato, spiralized
    • 2 medium zucchini, spiralized
    • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • parmesan cheese and/or pesto, optional for serving
    1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Stir, and then add the broth, beans, chickpeas, and the sweet potato and zucchini noodles. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
    2. Season to taste and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese or dollops of pesto, if desired.

    3.4.3177

    This post is in partnership with KitchenAid. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep us cooking!



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    Chocolate Caramel Tart | No Candy Thermometer!


    This decadent chocolate caramel tart is a show-stopper (you can also make it in a pie plate)! As delicious as it is pretty, I promise it is surprisingly easy to make…you don’t even need a candy thermometer for the homemade caramel layer!

    Decadent {and Easy} Chocolate Caramel Tart

    I kind of feel like I just need to let the pictures do the talking with this insanely decadent chocolate caramel tart recipe.

    But you know me. I always have something to say. So the pictures are going to have to be ok with me blabbing for a second, too.

    This caramel tart.

    Oh my.

    It is the dessert dreams are made of. The dessert people lose their minds over.

    The dessert that will change lives and make you very, very, very popular (prepare yourself).

    The best news? It is honestly quite simple, and I promise I’m not just saying that.

    Decadent {and Easy} Chocolate Caramel Tart

    Months ago my brother and I were talking about a really popular caramel tart-pie thingie circulating on Pinterest.

    He took one for the team, made it…and was really underwhelmed.

    But we both knew we couldn’t live a full, productive life until we had a successful chocolate/caramel dessert combo in front of us.

    Fast forward several months, and this decadent chocolate caramel tart number (with a tasty little chocolate cookie crust) has become one of the most defining desserts of my life.

    Decadent {and Easy} Chocolate Caramel Tart

    I’ve made it at least eight times since September, and it is almost embarrassing (and kind of funny) how crazy this dessert makes people.

    At first, I worried about having that much caramel in one place.

    Would it be overwhelming? Too caramelly? Sickeningly sweet?

    Oh me of little faith. What was I thinking?

    It’s none of those things.

    It is PERFECT.

    Decadent {and Easy} Chocolate Caramel Tart

    Sandwiched in between that delightful, light crust and the velvety chocolate ganache, the soft, creamy caramel is exactly what this tart needs to be complete.

    And. That luxurious caramel layer is homemade (which means it is crazy delicious)

    Wait, wait, don’t panic!

    If homemade caramel has you running for the storebought hills, you have to trust me that this caramel is so easy and so doable.

    You don’t even need a candy thermometer. You just need eyeballs.

    And, I’ve included a quick picture tutorial to show you exactly when to pull that caramel off the stove (you’re looking for a medium-dark amber color).

    Decadent {and Easy} Chocolate Caramel Tart

    If you undercook it a bit, life will still plug along, and your caramel tart might be slightly softer. No biggie.

    If you overcook it a little, again, there’s a good chance it will work out (with a slightly firmer consistency).

    There’s a little wiggle room here (however, please avoid smoke, strong burned smells, fire, and breaking people’s teeth out, thanks).

    And making homemade caramel for this tart will undoubtedly make you feel like a rock star that can accomplish anything life throws at you!

    Flat tire? Bad hair day? Bickering children?

    Ha! None of those challenges stand a chance in the face of one who can make a homemade chocolate caramel tart.

    Decadent {and Easy} Chocolate Caramel Tart

    Basically, you’re getting a new lease on life with this chocolate caramel tart recipe.

    I won’t go so far as to say it’ll solve all your problems.

    But goodness, just look at it? It certainly won’t hurt, will it?

    Feel free to ask any questions about the recipe in the comments! 

    This is the perfect dessert for your holiday table (or just to drop off on a friend’s doorstep who needs it – instant therapy and love right there).

    Decadent {and Easy} Chocolate Caramel Tart

    I’ve included a note or two in the recipe – but just to clarify, I use this tart pan (super inexpensive), but I think you could make it in a regular 9-inch pie plate.

    The advantage of a tart pan is that the removeable bottom makes for easier slicing and a prettier presentation.

    Decadent {and Easy} Chocolate Caramel Tart

    One Year Ago: Peppermint Bark White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
    Two Years Ago: Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
    Three Years Ago: Soft and Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies
    Four Years Ago: Salty Sweet Granola and Coconut Yogurt
    Five Years Ago: Killer Crunch Brownies

    Yield: 9-inch tart/pie

    Chocolate Caramel Tart

    Ingredients:

    Crust:

    • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 4 ounces) butter, softened to room temperature
    • 1/3 cup (1.25 ounces) powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

    Caramel:

    • 2 cups (15 ounces) granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 cup corn syrup
    • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 4 ounces) butter, cut into 4-5 pieces
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Ganache:

    • 3 ounces (1/2 cup) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (can use good-quality chocolate chips)
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • Fleur de sel, for sprinkling (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. For the crust, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl using a handheld electric mixer (or just mixing by hand), combine the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, egg yolk, vanilla and flour. Mix until combined (it may be crumbly but will hold together when pressed).
    3. Crumble the mixture over the bottom of a 9.5- or 10-inch tart pan (can also use a 9-inch pie plate). Press evenly up the sides first all the way around the edges and then press the remaining crust mixture evenly over the bottom.
    4. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
    5. For the caramel, in a heavy bottomed saucepan (important so that the heat conducts evenly!), combine the sugar, water and corn syrup (try not to splash the mixture up on the sides of the pan). Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the mixture is a medium-dark amber color, tilting the pan just slightly every couple of minutes to swirl the mixture – don’t swirl or tilt the pan too quickly or get the caramel mixture up high on the sides of the pan. The exact cooking time will depend on how high/low the heat is on the stove.
    6. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the butter, cream and vanilla. The hot mixture will bubble vigorously. Stir to combine (don’t go too crazy scraping down the sides of the pan).
    7. Pour the caramel over the baked crust. Refrigerate until the caramel is set and no longer warm, 1-2 hours (make sure you set the tart on a really flat surface in the fridge or else it will set up tilted or uneven).
    8. For the ganache, place the chocolate in a small or medium bowl. Heat the cream (in the microwave or on the stove) until simmering.  Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 1-2 minutes. Stir to combine until the chocolate is glossy and smooth. Spread the ganache evenly over the caramel. Chill until the chocolate is set and is no longer melty/soft. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of fleur de sel, if desired.
    9. Keep refrigerated until serving. For neat, even slices, I run my long chef’s knife under hot water, wipe dry and slice (repeating as needed to get clean slices).

    Notes:

    This recipe calls for a 9-inch tart pan, but a 9-inch pie plate should work pretty well (the advantage to the tart pan is the removeable bottom which makes presentation and slicing nicer/easier/prettier). 

    All images and text ©.