Chocolate Chestnut Tart with Salt Caramel

 Chocolate Chestnut Tart with Salt Caramel

Chocolate Chestnut Tart With Salt Caramel

Chestnuts are not first on the list for everyone when it comes to yummy flavours – I have only recently become enamoured of them myself.  This tart exploits the soft musky flavour of the chestnuts in the flour used to make the tart shell as well as in a dense salt caramel.  The tart is lovely without the salt caramel – so do not feel obliged to gild the lily if you are not in the mood!

For the pastry:Chocolate Chestnut Tart with Salt Caramel
3 tablespoons pure cocoa powder
2 cups chestnuts flour
200 grams unsalted butter, chilled, finely chopped
1 egg, chilled
2 tablespoons milk
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk - extra

For the filling:
450 grams dark bitter-sweet chocolate
400ml double cream
50mls milk
2 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup
5 eggs
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle
Nutmeg, freshly grated
2 tablespoons Liqueur de Chataigne (Chestnut liqueur) or Orahovac Green Walnut Liqueur, Brandy or other suitable liqueur

Preheat oven to 150°C

For the pastry:
Mix together the flour, salt and cocoa powder until evenly combined.
Add the butter and rub into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Whisk the egg together with the milk and combine into the flour mixture using a fork.
Combine until mixture begins to form large clumps, then turn the pastry out on to a cool work surface (a marble pastry slab is the business) and knead gently to bring together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes before working the dough further.
Once chilled, form into a disc and roll out as thinly as desired, then wrap in plastic wrap again and refrigerate for at least half an hour – the longer the better, in fact this pastry develops well if made a day in advance and popped in the fridge overnight.

Line base and sides of 20cm spring-form tin with thinly rolled pastry.  Par-bake the base by lining the inside of the pastry with baking paper and weighing it down with either dry beans or baking beads.

Bake until the pastry is just starting to brown at the edges, then brush with egg yolk and briefly return to the oven. This protects the pastry from getting soggy.

For the Filling:
Mix together the milk, cream and sugar in a saucepan with the vanilla bean and bring to the boil over a moderate heat. Once boiled remove the vanilla bean and leave the cream to settle for a few minutes before adding the chocolate.   Allow the chocolate to melt before mixing slowly.
Stir until all chocolate has dissolved and mixture is smooth and creamy.

Whisk the eggs lightly in a separate bowl, then add the chocolate mixture into the eggs and add pinch of salt and a generous grating of nutmeg.
Mix well then stir in the liqueur.

Chocolate Chestnut Tart with Salt CaramelGently pour mixture into prepared pastry base and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until just set in the centre. When tart is still hot, use a sharp knife to cut off excess pastry at the rim of the chocolate filling, giving the tart a straight edge.

Optional addition - Salt Caramel - does add an additional layer of flavour and the salt works really well with the chocolate!

Chestnut Salt Caramel
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon water
½ cup sugar (or vanilla sugar)
¼ teaspoon salt
6-8 toasted chestnuts, shelled and chopped

In a small high sided saucepan add the water, sugar and butter.  Warm gently, then increase the heat, add the salt and allow the mixture to boil until it is a deep golden colour.
For a creamier caramel omit the water and add a tablespoon of cream.
Add the chopped chestnuts and allow the caramel to boil around the nuts.
Pour out into a sheet of baking paper and allow to harden or pour over the finished tart directly. 

To make toffee threads heat a few tablespoons of sugar in a small pot and boil to golden toffee starts to form.  Remove from the heat and use 2 forks to tease out the caramel threads.

 Chocolate Chestnut Tart with Salt Caramel