I remember the first time I tried chocolate with sea salt. It sounded weird to me at first, but as soon as I took the first bite, I was delighted. It instantly became a favorite. Nowadays, I rarely make anything chocolatey without a good extra pinch of salt. And the same goes for caramel, which is so intensely sweet on its own. Salt adds depth, and maximizes the flavor to bring out all the good stuff. This notion is something I keep coming back to when I think about food, and life in general. How differences should be celebrated, how they enhance each other. Opposites attract. Our differences are what makes us interesting, and food, in flavor and texture. Sweet and salty. Smooth and crunchy. These tartlets have it all. A crisp, nutty shortbread crust, a crunchy hazelnut filling topped with a rich, smooth chocolate ganache and flaky salt on top. Just the right balance between flavors and textures.
Some of my recent favorite flavor combinations are chocolate & salt, rhubarb & cardamom, strawberry & balsamic and coconut & coffee. What are some of your favorite combinations?
Makes 10 small tartlets
I used my Electrolux* blender to mix the toasted hazelnuts into a fine meal but you could also use a food processor if you don’t have a blender. If you don’t have tartlet pans with removable bottoms, you can cut long strips of baking paper and put along the bottom of the pans before you press in the dough. This will make it so much easier to remove them from them from the pans once baked! Crust with nut filling can be made a day ahead.
- 100 g (25 g for crust + 75 g for filling) hazelnuts
- 25 g toasted hazelnuts
- 180 g (1 1/4 cup) all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. light muscovado sugar
- pinch of flake sea salt
- 150 g (about 1 1/4 stick) salted butter
- 45 g (1/4 cup) light brown muscovado sugar
- 100 g (1 scant stick) salted butter
- 2 tbsp. liquid honey
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
- 75 g toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 200 g semi-sweet chocolate (around 55%), chopped
- 240 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
- Flaky sea salt, to sprinkle
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
- Spread 100 g hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and lightly browned, about 8-12 minutes. Let cool. Put the toasted nuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub to remove as much of the skins as possible.
- Put the nuts in a blender along with the flour, sugar and salt. Mix until nuts are finely ground. Pour mixture into a bowl. Melt the butter and stir into the dry mixture until just incorporated and a dough forms.
- Using your hands, press the dough into the tartlet pans (I used about 35 g of dough for each pan, my pans are approx. 10 cm across), smoothing the edges with your fingertips. Prick the bottoms of the dough and transfer the pans to a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool while you prepare the filling.
- Mix sugar, butter, honey and cream in a saucepan. Stir together and let come to a boil. Let simmer for a minute, then stir in the 75 g of chopped hazelnuts. Divide the mixture between the tartlet shells.
- Bake on the lower rack of the oven at 175°C (350°F) for 18-20 minutes or until filling is golden brown and bubbling. Let cool completely.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.
- Pour the cream into a saucepan and place it over medium high heat until cream is very hot but not boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate – make sure all the chocolate is covered with cream, if not, press chocolate down with a spoon. Let stand for 30 seconds, then stir with a spoon until chocolate is melted and ganache is completely smooth. Make sure to stir carefully, or you’ll get lots of air bubbles in your ganache. Let cool to room temperature.
- Pour the ganache into the tartlet shells. Let stand until set, about 1-2 hours in room temperature (refrigerator will be a bit faster). If you want a shiny surface on the chocolate, use a torch to very carefully toast the chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
*This post was made in collaboration with Electrolux. All opinions are as always, my own! 🙂