Chocolate-Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart

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DIY sushi parties are so much fun! I grew up making hand rolls with my family and haven't done it in a while, but this year Moses requested a sushi party for his birthday. So we invited a few friends over, got lots of Japanese beer, sake, and really good fish and did it up. I got a bunch of Calpico, which nobody drank :( and splurged on some really good sushi rice. It was loads of fun and super yummy and at the end of the night, our friend Jackie put a bunch of candles in the gorgeous chocolate matcha cake she baked for Moses and I lit them all up with a butane torch. :) And because a birthday isn't quite enough when you're super awesome, the next day, Moses and I celebrated more with another birthday treat--this chocolate-caramel macadamia nut tart. 

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Moses told me that this tart is like a candy bar, specifically a Kit Kat, which is totally false (sorry birthday boy). It's a lot like a super lux macadamia nut Snickers + Twix. It's got a yummy cookie crust, that's not too sweet, like a Twix, and then loads of buttery caramel, toasted macadamia nuts, and silky smooth ganache. And there's a hint of tang, thanks to the Vermont Creamery crème fraîche in both the caramel and ganache, cause when it's Vermont Creamery, why not!! That stuff's way too good not to put in everything possible. And because I'm calling it a super lux macadamia nut Snickers + Twix, it's got to have Vermont Creamery mascarpone whipped cream on top! This tart is such a sweet treat for the holidays or a birthday (weekend), and while we didn't torch a second set of candles, I kinda wish we did 'cuz eating this felt like a real celebration!!

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CHOCOLATE-CARAMEL MACADAMIA NUT TART

Makes one 9-inch tart; serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS

TART DOUGH

  • 1/2 c. unsalted macadamia nuts
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 large egg yolk, cold
  • 1 Tbsp. water, cold

CARAMEL + NUTS

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. golden syrup or corn syrup
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. crème fraîche
  • 4 Tbsp. salted butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 2 c. unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted* and divided

GANACHE 

  • 1/4 c. crème fraîche
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 10 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract

MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM (optional)

  • 1/2  c. mascarpone
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract

TOOLS

  • Food processor
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • 9-inch round tart pan with removable bottom
  • Rolling pin
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Foil 
  • Pie weights, pennies, or dried beans
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Medium saucepan
  • Baking thermometer
  • Whisk
  • Toothpick
  • Small saucepan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Offset spatula
  • Stand mixer, optional

FIX

TART DOUGH

  1. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom and set aside.
  2. Combine macadamia nuts and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse until nuts are just finely ground. Add flour, salt and butter and pulse until texture resembles a coarse cornmeal. Add vanilla bean paste or extract, egg yolk, and water and pulse until dough comes together.
  3. Turn out dough onto a work surface and work into a ball. Press dough into the greased tart pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. Chill the tart in the freezer for 20 minutes then punch holes with a fork to allow steam to vent while baking. Cover with foil and fill with pie weights.
  4. Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool at room temperature on a wire rack. 

CARAMEL + NUTS

  1. Combine granulated sugar, golden syrup or corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan, making sure that the sugar is evenly moistened. Heat on medium-low heat until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium and let boil for 5-7 minutes or until mixture is golden to amber colored. Remove from heat and carefully and quickly whisk in crème fraîche and butter. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and bring back to a boil over medium heat. Heat until temperature reaches 235°F then promptly remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla bean paste or extract. 
  2. Place 1 3/4 cup macadamia nuts in the cooled tart shell, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup, then pour caramel evenly over nuts. Use a toothpick to get out any big bubbles/move nuts around to make sure there aren't any gaps in the caramel filling. Let cool at room temperature.

GANACHE

  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together crème fraîche and heavy cream and heat on low until just simmering. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate (in a glass mixing bowl). Whisk together until smooth. If you've been mixing for a while and all the chocolate hasn't melted, place in microwave for 20 seconds, then continue whisking until smooth.
  2. Pour over caramel filling and smooth with an offset spatula.
  3. Coarsely chop reserved macadamia nuts and sprinkle on top. 
  4. Serve with mascarpone whipped cream (optional, see below) and enjoy!

MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM (optional)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer, fitted with whisk, and beat on high until soft but firm peaks form.

A huge thanks to Vermont Creamery for sponsoring this post. They make the absolute best crème fraîche and mascarpone, oh and cultured butter, and I honestly use all their stuff in everything I possibly can. And obviously, they make some of the best goat cheese I've ever had, and pretty much every cheese board we make has at least one Vermont Creamery cheese on it!