…is that enough flavors for you? I wasn’t sure. I’ve recently gotten into the swing of doing desserts really big, or not doing them at all. Chocolate chip cookies? Add some dark chocolate, some molasses, and then we can talk. Tarts? I’m all about making it easy by putting them in the food processor, but I also love to punch up the taste factors. Cakes? Well, I’m getting there (slowly but surely, I hope!).
As I’ve mentioned before, I often volunteer to make desserts when my parents have guests over. Increasingly, I find that baking is one of the most soothing and relaxing activities I engage in, even when it involves a lot of ingredients, copious time spent washing dishes, and a lot of worry about how things will turn out. When I was in Australia, I began retreating to the kitchen to find some peace and quiet. While cooking is rewarding for me, it’s baking that I find to be the most enjoyable. I’m sure, therefore, that this is part of why I constantly volunteer my baking skills – because in spite of my trepidation about the quality, the simple act of combining ingredients in the mixer brings me peace.
This recipe is an outcome of one of the dinners my parents hosted for friends last summer; I love the combination of chocolate and caramel, and thought the addition of steeped lavender and earl grey sounded lovely. It was my first time making caramel, and I was so terrified of ending up with some hardened disaster in my pan that I don’t think I cooked it as long as it needed, but there’s always next time!
Lavender Earl Grey Chocolate Caramel Tart (adapted from Buttered Up)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup good-quality cocoa
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
8 tbsp butter
Ice cold milk or water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 earl grey teabags, or approximately 1 tbsp loose-leaf earl grey tea
1 tbsp organic lavender flowers
In the bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt, and blend together. Add the butter and combine until the texture of the dough is pebbled or grainy. Add just enough milk or water for the dough to come together. Flatten into a disc and refrigerate 30-60 minutes. Press into a greased ten-inch tart or springform pan. Bake at 350F for approximately 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan.
To prepare the caramel, combine brown sugar and water over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Swirl the pan, rather than stirring, to prevent burning while this cooks. When bubbles form on the surface, add honey and stir until combined. Add salt and cream and stir until combined. Allow mixture to heat until it is bubbling vigorously. Take the mixture off the heat and add the butter, stirring until well-mixed. Once the tart shell is cool, pour caramel into the tart pan and refrigerate.
Prepare the ganache once the caramel is cooled. Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Place lavender (and loose leaf tea, if using) in a tea ball. Pour milk into a saucepan over medium heat, and add the tea ball to the milk. Heat milk until it just begins to bubble, then remove the tea ball and pour lavender and tea-infused milk over the chocolate. Allow to sit for a minute, then stir gently to combine. Pour over caramel and tart shell and return to the refrigerator to cool for at least two hours. Covered, the tart can sit for several days in the refrigerator (but oh, what you’ll be missing!)
Garnish with sprigs of lavender, and enjoy!