I need to get on the phone this morning and find a friend who is willing to come over and eat a piece of the Chocolate-Coated Walnut Caramel Tart I just made. Imagine, having to beg someone to eat this! But I bake a lot and my family will look at my latest creation and say, "Not tonight, I can't eat another thing." I've made this tart several times over the years. It's very good and very rich, plus I think it's just fun to make. Of course, it's always best eaten the same day it's baked, but I have frozen left-over portions that were pretty darn good when defrosted.
CHOCOLATE-COATED WALNUT CARAMEL TART
2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 pound chilled butter
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon heavy cream
WALNUT CARAMEL FILLING
2 cups walnuts
6 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
7/8 cup cream
1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
OPTIONAL DECORATION (the fun part)
2 ounces white chocolate
1 tablespoon canola oil
PREPARATION: For the Pate Sucree, mix the flour and sugar. Cut butter into 1-inch cubes and cut into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces left. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 of the egg yolks and cream together. Add to the flour mixture and mix until dough just comes together. Add up to one tablespoon water if necessary. Divide dough in two, with one half slightly larger than the other, and press into discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the filling, chop walnuts. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes. In a saucepan, bring sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil and cook until a light golden caramel. about 10 minutes. Slowly pour the cream into boiling liquid. Stir in walnuts and butter. Cook mixture on high heat, stirring to prevent burning the walnuts, until syrup is reduced and caramel colored, about 7 minutes. Pour into bowl and cool to room temperature.
Roll larger disc of dough out to about 1/8-inch thick and press into a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim. Cover pastry shell with plastic wrap and chill until assembly.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix remaining egg yolk with 2 teaspoons water for egg wash. Remove pastry shell from the refrigerator and brush egg wash around the edge. Carefully spread cooled caramelized walnuts over entire shell. Do Not press down on walnuts; you will rip the pastry. Roll out smaller disc of dough to about 1/8-inch thick and 9 1/2-inches wide. Top tart with pastry and pinch top and bottom crust together. Trim so that seam doesn't stick up more than about 1/4-inch above rim of pan. Or seal and trim by rolling over the rim of the pan with a rolling pin.
Bake on bottom rack in preheated oven until the crust turns golden brown, about 40 minutes. If it browns before 40 minutes, cover lightly with foil. Remove and cool to room temperature.
For the Ganache, melt chocolate, cream, and butter in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly, until smooth. (I used a microwave).
Invert tart onto serving plate and spread top with the Ganache.
For optional decoration, melt white chocolate and oil over barely simmering water in a double boiler (again I used the microwave) until almost melted. Remove from heat and stir until completely melted. Scrape into a parchment-paper cone. ( I used a small zip-lock bag and snipped a tiny piece off the corner). Pipe a spiral design on top of tart. Make "spokes" by dragging a wooden toothpick or the tip of a paring knife from the center of the tart to the edges. Then make spokes in between each going the opposite direction, toward the center. The design should resemble a spider's web.
YIELD: 12 Servings