Caramel Tart with Walnuts (Tarte au caramel et noix)

I know I have been repeating how much I hate excessively sweet desserts and this is true with everything apart from caramel. Hereby I admit I have a weakness for the soft, sticky, chewy, horribly sweet caramel and its close cousin called “dulce de leche”. Maybe it works as an exception proving the rule or maybe the sweetness goes so far, it no longer counts as a very sweet dessert… Whatever the reason, I cannot resist a chocolate filled with caramel and desserts such as millionaire’s shortbread can disappear in no time at all (by the way, Charles from Five Euro Food has a very seductive recipe here). This Caramel Tart with Walnuts is one of the best examples of highly addictive, sickeningly sweet treats I adore.

Caramel Tart is one of these French desserts I have never seen in a bakery or pastry shop, in a restaurant and I have never found it in any cookery book. Before posting the recipe I even had to check if it wasn’t only my family’s recipe, but I admit some French blog feature similar tarts. This extremely simple, basic, two-ingredient tart, sometimes enriched by walnuts can be prepared with the ingredients I suppose most French families (and not only) have constantly at home. It is a crunchy, buttery, very sweet, sticky and irresistible dessert.

“Simple” doesn’t always mean “easy” and I have experienced several huge failures before I asked advice from a kind family member, was instructed on how to avoid them  (and will always be extremely grateful for this!), the main difficulty consisting in stopping the pastry case from raising and not letting the caramel mixture flow under the case (see below). Luckily, even if anything of the above happens, the tart might not look presentable, but still is a pure delight.

Preparation: about 1 hour

Ingredients (for one 28 cm diameter tart):

1 butter-based shortcrust or puff pastry sheet (thinly rolled out)

180 g (about 1 3/4 cup) caster sugar

300 ml (about 10 oz) liquid cream (at least 25 % fat content)

(10 – 20 chopped walnut kernels)

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

In a bowl combine the sugar with the cream.

Grease a tart baking dish or line it with baking paper.

Lay the pastry sheet on a flat surface and prick it thoroughly but delicately with a fork trying not to pierce it (otherwise the cream and sugar mixture will go under the crust).

Line the tart dish with the pastry sheet, the pricked side downwards.

Pour the mixture of cream and sugar.

Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake for about 1 hour until the filling becomes light brown. (Cover the tart’s sides with aluminium foil if it is too dark and the filling too light).

Let it cool down and serve.