Friday, February 12, 2010

Any Excuse to Eat Chocolate

My husband and I don’t generally celebrate Valentine’s Day with any fanfare, but sometimes I like to cook a nice meal for the two of us midway through the month of February. Plus, I can never pass up an excuse to bake dessert. 

For a sweet finish, this pie is crunchy, gooey and chocolaty. When I flipped through the Valentine’s Day issue of Bon Appetit, a gorgeous tart caught me eye. Their version was Milk Chocolate and Caramel with Hazelnuts and Espresso.  I had pecans and dark chocolate. Their version prompted a homemade shortbread tart crust. I had a frozen pie shell. Their garnish was roasted cocoa nibs. I stuck with toasted chopped pecans. 

Needless to say, the only thing that remained the same was the caramel. 

Whether or not you celebrate Valentine’s Day, there’s always time to eat well with your loved ones; the red paper doilies are optional. 

Dark Chocolate Caramel Pie with Pecans
Serves 8

1 pie crust

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarsely (bake at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for approximately 5 minutes, stir once)

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces dark chocolate chips (I use either Ghirardelli’s Bittersweet or Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
chopped toasted pecans for garnish

Bake pie crust at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
For caramel filling, stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is medium amber, swirling pan instead of stirring, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble up). Place saucepan over medium heat; stir until caramel bits dissolve. Add butter, vinegar, and salt; stir until butter melts. Stir in pecans. Caramel may be bubbly; don’t worry, it will settle in the refrigerator. Pour filling into crust. Chill until cold and set, about 30 minutes.

For chocolate: Bring cream to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over caramel. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Chill tart until topping is set, about 1 hour. 

No comments: