A couple of days ago, Muppet, who had decided that we'd been making not nearly enough desserts as of late, sauntered over to our cookbook collection and pulled down Joanne Chang's fabulous Flour cookbook for a look-see. Five minutes later she was waving the book in my face, showing me all of the post-it tags that marked recipes she wanted to try. As most of them were rather large layer cakes, I asked her to take another swing through the book and try to find something a little more modest in size, "oohhh…good idea, she said, "bikini season's right around the corner"
My thoughts exactly.
A few beats later and she was back with the book open to this lovely tart, and we were in business. I've never actually been a fan of Milky Way candy bars, I'm more of a Snickers guy myself, but one look at Joanne's tart, and a quick read of the recipe left me with no doubt that I was looking straight down the barrel of my next food addiction. Yeah….like I really need another one of those.
For such a beautiful and delicious thing it's pretty easy to whip up, though making it does involve a fair amount of rest time so best to plan ahead. We made and baked the tart shell, crafted the mousse base, and finished the caramel one day, then finished the tart the next. You CAN make it all in one day, but given the chilling time required of the mousse base (8 hours), you'll want to start it early if you want to eat it for your evening dessert.
A few notes about our experience with the recipe. While the finished tart shell was rich, crisp and delicious, I found the dough a bit tricky to work with, and it cracked in many spots when rolling it. The next time I make this I'll probably just use it as a press-in dough and not bother with rolling it at all (I've modified my instructions to reflect that fact). As for the mousse, it is astonishingly good, but given that it is made with just whipped cream, and no gelatin or whipped egg whites, it is pretty fragile and tended to slowly run once the tart was cut. Next time around I may try to incorporate a touch of gelatin to give it just enough body to hold together once cut. I'll revisit this post with an update once I've played with adding gelatin.
In fact, now that I'm ALREADY thinking about the next time I make this bad boy (I hate it when I'm right about addictions), I think I may add some peanuts between the caramel and mousse layers and create my own little "Snickers Tart" variant on this deliciousness.
Cheers – Steve
Milk Chocolate Mousse:
- 5 ounces (140 grams) milk chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder (we used Starbucks VIA)
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) water
- 3/4 cup (180 grams) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick or 28 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pâte Sucrée Tart Shell:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 114 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (140 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
for the tart shell:
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until pale and light. Add the flour and mix on low for 30 seconds, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary, until the mix looks like wet sand. Add the egg yolk and continue to mix on low speed for another 30 seconds or until the dough comes together.
- Place the dough into a 10" false bottomed tart pan and press into place being sure to create a crust of even thickness along the bottom and sides of the tart pan. Wrap the shell in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour to allow the dough to relax.
- Position rack in the center of your oven and heat to 350℉. When the oven reaches temperature, unwrap the tart shell and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until uniformly golden brown. remove to a rack to cool completely. Remove the outer ring from the tart pan and reserve the shell until ready to fill.
for the chocolate mousse:
- Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Whisk the coffee powder into the cream and heat in a small pan until just scalding (bubbles will form at the edge of the pan, but the cream will NOT be boiling). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, let it sit a minute, then whisk until all of the chocolate is melted and the mix is smooth. Pour through a fine meshed strainer into a clean bowl, stir in the salt, cover and set in the fridge to completely chill, at least 8 hours (we left ours there overnight).
for the caramel filling:
- Measure out your cream and butter and keep them close at hand. Place the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan and slowly pour in the water. Gently stir the two together to wet all the sugar, but be careful not to splash any of the mix on the sides of the pan. Place the pan over medium- high heat and leave undisturbed until the sugar starts to take on some color, only then, gently swirl the pan so that it colors evenly. Continue to swirl occasionally as the sugar darkens to a deep amber-brown, and make sure your pan has your full attention because once the sugar starts to color, things move pretty quickly. Just before the caramel is dark enough you will notice that the sugar will start smoking. Don't panic, give it a just a few more seconds to darken to deep amber, then pull the pan from the heat and quickly pour in all of the cream being careful not to get splattered by the violently boiling eruption this will cause. When the boiling subsides, place the pan back over low heat and whisk in the cream until the mixture is totally smooth. Add the butter, salt and vanilla and whisk to incorporate. Pour into a bowl, cover and chill until ready to use.
assembling the tart:
- Place the tart shell on a flat plate and spread about 3/4 of the caramel mixture evenly across the bottom of the tart shell. Using a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, whip the mousse base on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. Spoon the mousse on top of the caramel and spread it evenly to fill the tart. Take your remaining caramel and warm in gently (1o seconds in the microwave should do) so that you can drizzle it across the top of the tart in a zig-zag pattern. Using a vegetable peeler, shave chocolate curls from your white ot milk chocolate and rain it down over the top of the tart. Place the tart in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.