I adore Christmas, I really do. I love the festive season so much that come mid November, I simply cannot wait to get shopping, decorating, singing Christmas tunes and, more importantly, I absolutely cannot wait to get into the kitchen to cook up some tasty festive feasts!
With the above in mind, and the delicious delicacies recently sent to me by Hotel Chocolat, I started to brain storm ideas for non traditional desserts for Christmas day. Controversial I know but there are just so many people out there who do not like fruit. At all. Full stop. Not Christmas cake. Nor Christmas pudding. Or even stollen! I have actually heard on the grapevine of a few people somewhere in the Outer Hebrides who don’t like mince pies, shock horror! (I know, I don’t get it either!!). Although I find it hard to relate to the aforementioned group of people, I love a bit of chocolate and if you can’t indulge in a decadent dessert at Christmas when can you hey?
Enter the salted caramel, pecan and chocolate tart. This recipe is so ridiculously simple even the most amateur cook could do this in no time, perhaps even blindfolded! It really is that simple all because the main ingredient is Hotel Chocolat’s salted Caramel, pecan and chocolate spread so most of the hard work is already done! Anyway, enough rambling, on to the recipe……!
Salted Caramel, Pecan and Chocolate Tarts
For the pastry:
250g plain flour
60g icing sugar
For the filling:
225g Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel and Pecan Chocolate Spread
300 ml double Cream
For the caramelised pecans:
50g caster sugar
50g pecan halves
Edible gold glitter or gold spray to decorate
1. Place 10g of pecans in a sandwich bag and bash with a rolling-pin until finely crushed.
2. To make the pastry, rub together the flour, sugar and butter in a large bowl until the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs.
3. Add the crushed pecans and the egg and bring the pastry together until it forms a sooth dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
4. Lightly grease 6 loose bottom individual tart tins with margarine.
5. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface until even and fairly thin. Line the tart tins with pastry, trimming when necessary and ensuring that the pastry is adequately pressed into the corners.
6. Prick the bases on the tart tins with a fork and cut out six circles of greaseproof paper to line the tins with. Place baking beans or rice on top of the pastry and greaseproof paper in order to ensure that the pastry doesn’t rise whilst baking.
7. Bake the pastry line tart tins in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake for a further 5 minutes until lightly golden and cooked through.
8. Leave the tarts to cool completely on a baking rack before removing from the tins. Meanwhile, make the caramelised nuts.
9. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, gently heat the caster sugar, water and nuts and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
10. Continue to heat gently, after a while the mixture will reduce and become syrupy before turning to a sandy type consistency after approximately 15 minutes.
11. Stir every so often to ensure that the sugar doesn’t burn, after a while it will turn back to a thick syrup. Once this happens, remove from the heat and place each pecan separately onto the lined baking tray.
12. Sprinkle the nuts with glitter or spray them before allowing to cool and set.
13. To make the filling, place a heatproof bowl over a small pan of simmering water. Add the spread and cream to the heat proof bowl and use a whisk to combine whilst the spread melts.
14. Finally, pour the filling into the pre baked tart tins and allow to set in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
15. Top with caramelised nuts and serve.
I told you this was simple! It really takes no time at all to make these elegant and decadent tarts. You could even use pre-bought short crust pastry to cut down the prep time even more! Of course, you won’t get the same nutty flavour in the base but, as we all know, time is short at this time of year so sometimes shortcuts are a must!
Adding icing sugar to the pastry makes it a crisper finish than traditional caster sugar does. The ground nuts also gives this dessert a real depth of flavour and, for me, evokes memories of Christmas past, cracking nuts with my Dad as a little girl. I love flavouring my pastry where possible; not only does it taste great but it the flecks of colour in the pastry looks intriguing too! The filling is wonderfully creamy and smooth which contrasts the crunch of the sugary pecans, shimmering resplendently on top.
I think these tarts would make a wonderful addition to Christmas lunch or any other Christmas party you may be hosting. The recipe can easily be adapted to suit canapes as small, bitesize pastry cases are now available from most major supermarkets.
I urge you to give this recipe a try, you will love it and what’s more, it may well convince fruit lovers to ditch the traditional Christmas desserts and indulge in some chocolatey goodness instead!
- Review: Christmas in Association with Hotel Chocolat
- Review: Christmas Hamper Goodies
N.B- Gift bag and Salted Caramel and Pecan Chocolate Spread were provided, free of charge, by Hotel Chocolat however, thoughts and words are entirely my own. I did not receive any payment for this blog.