Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hazelnuts, Caramel, Chocolate...need I say more? Yes, actually, I have a lot more to say.

I don't know why, but hazelnuts are a bit difficult to find around here.  I guess they're just a bit too European for this Ohio suburb.  But I finally found a nice big bag of raw hazelnuts by going across town to Trader Joes.  Oh how I love Trader Joes.  It reminds be of being back in Portland.  I'd been wanting to try out a recipe I saw on TV a while back (I really love Rachel Allen).  But making this recipe turned out to be more of a learning experience than I expected.

Lesson #1- be prepared before you start.  So, this was supposed to be a tart.  But once I'd rolled out my favorite sweet tart dough, I couldn't find my tart pan anywhere!  I know these sort of things sometimes happen after a move, but it was frustrating.  So I settled on a round cake pan.  I patted the dough into place and popped it into the oven...which led to...

Lesson#2 I really know better, I do.  So why would I bake pastry dough without placing parchment filled with dry beans on top?  Maybe not having the right tart pan had just thrown my judgement momentarily, but really there's no excuse.  If you don't line your pie or tart dough, the sides will shrink right down!  You can check out my picture to see exactly what it looks like when this happens.  But I decided to keep going because I had already started.

So then I made the delicious and wonderfully easy caramel then stirred in the hazelnuts.  If you only have raw nuts, definitely take the time to roast them.  Nothing beats the crunch and flavor you get in roasted nuts.  I also like to salt mine.  I'm all about savory and sweet. 

Once that has been poured into the crust, make the ganache for the top.  By now, everyone is well aware of my love for ganache.  :)  But there was one little problem...

Lesson #3 - certain recipes should be made at the right temperature and humidity.  It had been very hot in Ohio and our poor air conditioner just couldn't get this house cool enough.  So, after pouring the ganache on the top for the final step, it never set properly.  I tried putting it in the fridge to harden up a bit, but it would melt again quickly once I brought it out again.  This is pretty clear from my last picture.

But you know, despite these learning experiences, this still tastes really delicious.  And the way the ganache ran down the sides ended up looking rather elegant I like to think.  The hazelnuts have a nice soft crunch and subtle flavor.  
Give it a try, but try to learn from my mistakes! :)

Caramel-Nut-Chocolate Layered Tart
for the full recipe (and a better picture) click on this link...