Caramel. I love caramel equally, and I, for one, think it should get equal billing.
9 ounces heavy cream
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or scant 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 fully baked 9-inch Pâte Sucrée Tart Crust
2 ½ ounces sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 ½ cups Caramel Pastry Cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Bring 2 ounces of the cream to a bare simmer in a small, heavy saucepan. Place the chocolate into a small bowl, add the hot cream, and whisk until smooth. Transfer to the tart crust and spread evenly. Let cool for a couple of hours, or until set.
Combine 2 ounces of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 5 to 6 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Pour onto a parchment-lined baking tray and let cool to room temperature.
Whip 2 ounces of the cream to stiff peaks. Stir 1/3 of the cream into the pastry cream, then fold in the remaining cream. Transfer to the tart crust and spread evenly.
Combine the remaining 5 ounces of cream, remaining ½ ounce of sugar, and vanilla and whip to firm peaks. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe onto the tart in a decorative manner.
Transfer the caramel to a large zip top bag and crush finely using a meat pounder. Sprinkle the crushed caramel over the tart. Cut the tart into portions and serve immediately.
Makes 1 9-inch tart, serving 8. If you don’t have a pastry bag, simply spread the whipped cream over the tart, swirling decoratively, with a spatula.