Strawberry Tart in a Chocolate Crust with Caramel

Nellie’s bread pudding didn’t last long. I’ve think I’ve figured out, though, that the bottom was soggy because the water in the bain marie needed to be boiling. I don’t know that, but I’m guessing. I think it was soggy because it wasn’t done, and I think it wasn’t done because the water insulated it from the heat.

This morning I said on Facebook that I was going to bake a pie today and immediately got suggestions. The first one was strawberry rhubarb, but either rhubarb is an insult to good strawberries or strawberries are an insult to good rhubarb, depending on who’s replying. Dr. Science is not enthusiastic about strawberry rhubarb pie, so that took care of that. I’d default to lemon meringue, but someone said “something with chocolate and caramel” and suddenly I thought “strawberry tart in a chocolate crust with caramel.”

Strawberry tart in a chocolate crust with caramel

Strawberry tart in a chocolate crust with caramel

Normally I would want to organize the fruit, but for some reason I pictured this with the strawberries cut up and just tossed in at random, so that’s what I did. I sort of winged the crust; I kind of made the almond oil crust but with an ounce of Dutch-process cocoa added in.

The real excitement was the caramel, though. I’ve never made caramel, and it’s one of those things you’re supposed to be afraid of. I figure it’s really something that you can do if you’re careful and pay attention—like the hollandaise sauce. I followed the caramel recipe on Simply Recipes. My sugar took several minutes to start melting. I tried stirring with a whisk, but the sugar clumped inside the whisk, so I abandoned that and switched to a wooden spoon, which worked fine. The sugar never came to the boil, but it all melted and turned a dark amber and smelled right, so I added the butter even without reaching a boil. The butter melted in pretty quickly. I added the cream slowly and in small amounts, and it really does bubble up; you really do need a big saucepan for this. Now I have a disgusting pan to clean, but the caramel is good, so it might be worth it.

The tart is pretty good, but it has a tendency to fall apart. I think this would work better as individual tartlets in maybe 2-inch deep shells

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