I have been a bad boy. I haven’t spent Mother’s Day with my Mom for years—I live in New York and my family is in Hong Kong, 12 time zones away. A visit to my family requires a minimum of 10 days for a sensible, recoverable-from-jet-lag trip, so there’s no such thing as a visit over a long weekend. To make up for it, I always send flowers and call my Mom on Mother’s Day (her time).
Since I started this blog not so long ago, this will be my first Mother’s Day post—and it’s about dessert, my Mom’s favorite thing to eat. Through any meal, especially at Chinese banquets with a dozen plus courses, she will only nibble on each dish. Then, she will politely proclaim that she’s full. What she was really doing was strategically saving space for the sweet endings. Every time I visit my family, my brothers and I will go after dinner to Yee Shun, a special Chinese dessert café, to pick up traditional treats. We always buy my Mom her takeout favorites: mango pudding, sweet potato soup, and ginger milk. By the time we get home, she would have brushed her teeth and gotten ready for bed. As soon as we call for her and mention dessert, however, she will run right to the dining table to enjoy the still-warm Chinese classics.
Above everything, Mom’s favorite dessert ingredients are crunchy nuts and chocolate. When traveling in Paris with her, she would walk into the elegant Debauve & Gallais chocolate shop, scan the rows of delicate, artful offerings, and ask the very proper French sales ladies which item had the most nuts. She adores the crunch of the nuts combined with rich dark chocolate, or milk chocolate for that matter. So for this Mother’s Day, I made a Chocolate Ganache Tart with a surprise Salted Caramel Macadamia Filling. It features flakiness of the tart shell, soft bittersweet chocolate for the obvious flavor and the surprise crunchy nuts and salted caramel to add depth and contrast to the overall sweetness.
Even though she will not actually taste the tart, at least she knows I’m thinking of her and never forgot the beautiful time we spend together, both at home and on our travels.
Happy Mother’s Day! Love always, your Hungry Rabbit
Mommy’s Tart (Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Tart)adapted from Jennifer McLagan’s Salted Butter Tart
make eight 3-inch or 5 4-inch tartlets
1-3/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg
1/3 cup (2 ounces) granulated sugar
NOTE: You only need 1/2 recipe for these tartlets. Remaining dough can be wrapped tightly and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator for an hour or so before rolling.
1-1/4 cups (9 ounces) granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) salted butter, diced
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
For the Pâte Sucrée
1. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles very coarse bread crumbs.
2. Whisk together the egg and sugar. Pour the egg mixture over the flour-butter mixture and pulse to combine. Squeeze a bit of the mixture between your fingers. If it holds together, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface; if not, add a couple of teaspoons of ice water and test again. Knead gently and form into a ball, divide the pastry in half, and flatten into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
3. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and line tart pans. Prick the base of the tart with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
5. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet. Line the tart with parchment paper or foil and fill it with pie weights. Bake until the pastry is just set, about 18-20 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and continue to cook until the pastry is golden in color, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer the tart to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the Caramel:-
1. Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Combine the sugar and butter in a deep, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir to mix and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter and sugar caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes. Mixture might look curdle at some point, but it will all come together at the end.
3. Keep stirring the butter-sugar mixture, watching carefully as it begins to caramelize and remembering that the heat in the pan will continue to cook the caramel once it is removed from the burner. You want a rich, dark caramel color. When the caramel reaches the right color, remove the pan from the heat and slowly and carefully pour in the cream; the mixture will bubble and spit. When the caramel stops bubbling, return it to low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the caramel in the cream. Remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool for 10 minutes. Fold in nuts and slowly pour the cooled caramel into the baked tart shells, about 1/2 filled, and chill the tart for at least 2 hours.
For the Ganache:
1. Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set aside.
2. In a saucepan, combine cream, honey, espresso and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, pour over chocolate and let stand for a few minutes to melt the chocolate.
3. Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla to combine.
4. Pour chocolate over cooled caramel filled tarlets and let cool completely, about 30 minutes, before serving.