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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Salted caramel and pecan tartlets


Keep calm and wear a surgical mask.

How's the situation in your side of the world lately? Hope everything is fine...

Nope, still no butter shortage in smoggy Hong Kong...

Fingers-crossed.


Got a new set of tart mould and a bag of pecan halves courtesy of my 2 enablers, Yanyan and Fufu, I heart you, guys 😁

Since I got time on my hands, which is almost all the time, I decided to make another layered dessert.

Yup, one of those time-consuming dessert that I like to make. You can make everything in just a day or two but you can stretch it into 3 days like I did 🤣

This tartlet is made of 3 components (4 if you count the pecans), the pâte sucrée, coffee joconde and salted caramel.

This may look a bit time-consuming to make because it really was but the combination of different flavour and texture will surely please even the most finicky French pastry enthusiast! 


Tartlets assembly

* Place (4 x about 1-inch) joconde sponge at the base of the tart shell/case, pressing down gently. Sprinkle some chopped pecans on top of the sponge and pipe in some caramel, 30-35 grams (guesstimate). Use an offset spatula to smoothen the top and top with pecan halves and heart-shaped cookies.

Depending on the ambient temperature, you can serve it right away or chill in the fridge until the caramel firms up a bit.


Salted caramel sauce

280 grams (vanilla) sugar or add 1 tsp vanilla extract
60 grams drinking water
230 grams whipping cream
50 grams salted butter, softened
2 grams fine sea salt

* In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until colour turns into amber.

* In another saucepan, heat cream, keep it hot.

* Take pan off heat, gradually add in the hot cream while stirring the mixture vigorously. If there are some lumps, return pan on the stove, turn heat to low and stir until caramel is smooth. Once mixture is smooth, add in the butter and salt, stir until well combined.

* Let caramel cool slightly in the pan for 10-15 minutes before pouring  into the prepared sterilized jar. Cool completely before using.

Caramel sauce texture is perfect for spreading on toast/bread or drizzling over ice cream. Because of the current temperature in this of the world, 11ºC when I used it, it looks thicker that the usual caramel sauce.


Toasted pecans

150 grams (or more) pecan halves

* Preheat oven to 180ºC.

* Put pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 6-10, stirring halfway through. Check pecans as they are easily scorched. Transfer toasted pecans in a heat-proof plate, let cool.

If you want a shiny pecans, while nuts are still warm, brush the top with apricot or in my case, strawberry jam. You'll need 30 pieces for topping and 12 grams/6 pieces coarsely chopped pecans for the filling.


Coffee joconde sponge, recipe adapted from Pâtisserie

63 grams icing sugar, sifted
63 grams ground almonds
19 grams plain flour, sifted
2 grams instant coffee
81 grams whole eggs
14 grams unsalted butter
50 grams egg whites
15 grams caster sugar

* Preheat oven 200ºC. Line a 12 inch baking pan wit parchment paper.

* Combine the icing sugar, ground almonds, flour and coffee; add in the whole eggs and beat for 10-12 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy.

* Melt butter, making sure it's not too warm. Slowly add it to the mixture, beating well until it is fully incorporated. Set aside.

* Beat egg whites until foamy, add in the sugar and beat until firm peaks form.

* Fold meringue into the egg mixture then spread onto the prepare pan. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown and the sponge springs back when pressed gently.

You'll only use about 1/3 of the sponge






Pâte Sucrée, recipe adapted from Baking at Republique, with some tweaks

200 grams cake flour
50 grams plain flour
45 grams almond flour/meal
120 grams icing sugar
120 grams cold butter, cubed (88 grams salted, 32 grams unsalted)
50 grams (whole) eggs, lightly beaten

* In a large mixing bowl or clean work surface, sift the flours and sugar, make a well in the centre and add in the cubed butter.

* Use your fingers to rub flours and butter together until mixture resembles a fine breadcrumbs. Add in the beaten eggs and mix to form a smooth, homogenous dough.

* Divide dough into 2 portion, form into a 6-inch square and wrap it in a cling film. Chill in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours before using.

* You'll only need one portion (300 grams) to make 6 tartlets plus heart-shaped cookies for topping/decoration.

Always remember that it's easier to roll the dough in a cool room

* Lightly grease six 12 cm x 3.5 cm rectangular tart ring (or any size you have on hand) 

* Place dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper, dusted with a bit of flour. Roll dough into 3 mm thick, better if you can do it at 2.5 mm. If the dough is a bit stiff to roll, let it stand for 5 minutes.

* Line the prepared tart cases with dough, pressing it snugly along the bottom and along the sides. Trim excess along the edges with a knife. Prick the bottom with a fork. Freeze for 1 hour.

* Take out  from the freezer and line the tart shells with parchment paper then place in the baking weight/stones. Place back in the freezer for 20 minutes/

* Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180ºC.

* Blind bake tart shells for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Take out from the oven and
carefully remove the weights from the shells.

* Lower down the temperature to 160ºC and bake shells for 6-8 minutes or until the base is also lightly golden or almost. Let cool completely before using.