I don't know if we have actively discussed how awesome Jill Lightner is. So awesome that I'm not even going to pause and correct the fact that I ended a sentence with "is". Make that two sentences. Hey, it's my website, I do what I wanna!
But back to Jill. She's the editor of the incredible publication Edible Seattle, and she has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things foodie in the greater Seattle area. And even better, her sweet tooth just about matches mine. She was one of the first in line to get a copy of CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life signed at my book launch party. Yes, I like Jill very much.
And now she has her own book out: Edible Seattle: The Cookbook . This gorgeous volume includes recipes for Pacific northwest specialties by Seattle area cooks and pastry chefs, as well as profiles on the local providers, ingredients, and inventors of these lovely recipes. It's a vital volume for anyone living in the greater Seattle area, but a great buy for non-Seattleites too. And the dessert chapter is very, very nice, including sables, pies, homemade ice creams, and--my favorite--a salted caramel tart.
The recipe comes from the Volunteer Park Cafe, and yields a crack-like addictive result. The caramel recipe will yield double what you need for two tarts, but it keeps well in the fridge, so save it for a second tart, or just eat it by the spoonful til it's gone.
Here's the recipe for that tart to get your motor running--for more, buy the book.
Salted Caramel Tart
For the crust
- 1 box (9 ounces) Nabisco famous chocolate wafers
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
For the caramel
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 stick (8oz) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon pink Hawaiian Alaea sea salt, smoked gray salt, or fleur de sel
For the chocolate ganache
- 8 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (chocolate chips ok)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grind the cookies in a food processor or crush by hand until they are fine crumbs. Drizzle the melted butter over the ground cookies, and either pulse in processor or mix by hand until combined. Press into a 9-inch fluted tart pan. Bake 10-15 minutes, until it is fragrant (light browning will be hard to detect on the dark chocolate wafers). Cool to room temperature.
- In a heavy medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Do not stir. Brush down the sides of the pan every 5 minutes with a pastry brush dipped in water to keep crystals from forming. Continue cooking until the caramel is a deep golden brown, keeping a watchful eye on the pot so it doesn't burn. Remove the pan from heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly. The hot caramel will bubble, so be careful--if it hits your hand, it WILL hurt. Whisk in the chilled butter pieces. Add the sea salt, whisking to comine. Pour half of the caramel into the cooled chocolate crust. Chill until firm in the refrigerator, at least one hour.
- Near the end of your cooling period, prepare the ganache. Place the chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl. Over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan. Immediately remove from heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
- Gently pour the ganache over the firm caramel, spreading with an offset spatula. Chill until firm, at least one hour. When slicing, use a warm knife (hold under hot water and dry before using)and wipe off the blade between cuts. Sprinkle each slice with more salt, and serve immediately.
Buy the book: Edible Seattle: The Cookbook.