Party tart alert! I know many of us are celebrating tomorrow, and I’m sure there will be some fired-up barbecue grills and tasty sides, but have you thought about dessert? There are so many options at this time of the year; summer fruit seems like it’s all peaking right this moment, and I think I can hear your ice cream makers churning as I write this. I’m on vacation, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be making you food; we make food all the time down here, because we can eat every single meal poolside, and nothing pairs better with eggs and turkey bacon than your own toes in the water watching the sun rise, let me tell you.
Listen, I know you’re making a fruit thing for dessert tomorrow. Maybe it’s a pie, perhaps it’s a fruit-topped cupcake, who knows. Would you like a second dessert idea? Sure you would, because I’m offering you a giant, round candy bar. Right. So we’re good then? Good. Just imagine how awesome your dessert bar will be with toasted walnuts, caramel, and chocolate added to it.
Mind you, I’m not saying you immediately cancel your fruit plans to make this; rather, I say you make this in addition to what you’re already making. it’s a perfect contrast to all that fruit, and it goes very well with the ice cream you’re either planning to buy to make. In fact, i think ice cream with this tart is essential, because it really balances out the intense candy bar insides.
This thing is a monster, which makes it ideal for get-togethers, as one tart will feed a massive amount of people. Cut it in slivers. I made the mistake of cutting it initially into twelve slices; not a bad idea in theory, but no one can eat that much of this; it’s far too rich and nutty. What works wonderfully here is to cut it in those twelve pieces, pop it into an airtight container, and place it back in the fridge to re-chill. Once you’re ready to serve it, cut each of those pieces in half, resulting in 24 candy bar slices with razor-perfect edges. Bonus: you can do this all ahead of time, and that means no knife mess during the party. All you’ll need to focus on is popping one of these and some ice cream onto serving plates.
I need your help with something: what do you think of when someone tells you to use “chocolate wafers” in a recipe? I’ve had Martha and now the Baked duo do it to me (with this offering), and I suppose I think that’s a little vague. Is there some classic chocolate wafer cookie for desserts such as this which I know nothing about? I’d love to know if this is the case; tell me what you usually use in scenarios like this. Although it’s a wee bit embarrassing, there’s only one thing I think of when I hear the words “chocolate wafer cookie.”
Oreos. Classy, I know. I’m not apologizing.
Whatever floats your chocolate wafer boat, this tart will be incredible. A word of caution: I don’t know about other cookies, but Oreos will be all up in your teeth, so after you eat this, you may want to discreetly check to make sure you’re not flashing a face-full of black crumbs every time you smile. You’re at a party, after all; don’t be that person.
Little-known fact about me: I love – I mean love – finding typos in published things. As a writer (I’ve taking to calling myself that recently, for reasons which we will soon discuss), I think it gives me a sense of relief that other people screw up like I do so often. No one is perfect, and even the most thoughtfully edited book is subject to weird little missteps.
If you have the Baked Elements book, this recipe contains one of those missteps. It’s at the very beginning, where you inexplicably preheat the oven to 300˚F and then never return to it again. Now, if you’re like me, this sort of thing can really muck things up for you. Why? Because I always assume it’s my fault, and that I’m not seeing something essential to the recipe. After probably 83 read-throughs and 25 minutes of background research into baking versus not baking a cookie crust, I determined that this was the same temperature they refer to in their roasted nuts chart at the beginning of the book. However, the ingredients list clearly indicates that the directions for roasting the nuts are found on page 19, and you are come into the recipe with prepared nuts. So: I’m pretty sure that’s the mistake in this, if you’re reading directly from the book. Don’t spend an hour obsessing over it like I did.
Adapted from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. I love this book; it is on its way to becoming my favorite of theres.
Candy Bar Tart
for the crust:
- 11-ounce bag Oreos, filling removed (or “chocolate wafers” of your choosing)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
for the filling:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted*
for the glaze:
- 4 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (I used a 70% Ghirardelli)
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
*to toast the walnuts, simply place them on a metal sheet pan, preheat your oven to 300˚F, and when it’s ready, pop them in until they start to turn a wee bit darker and get fragrant, about 10-12 minutes. Alternatively, you can do this in a large skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, but no matter how you toast your nuts, always watch them carefully: a burned nut is a gross nut, and it will ruin your entire batch.
Lightly coat a 9-inch Springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Make the crust:
Whiz your Oreos (or chocolate wafers, fancypants) until they turn into a fine powder. Place crumbs in a large bowl and stir in the sugar to blend. Pour the melted butter in and stir with a rubber spatula until everything is combined and the mixture looks wet throughout. Take your time: there were lots of dry spots in mine, so don’t stop mixing until you’re sure everything is coated in butter.
Turn the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and press it out to form a crust that covers the bottom and runs up the sides around 1 inch high. Don’t feel the need to be perfect here: I liked the way mine turned out with its uneven edges; like cookie mountain silhouettes. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press and smooth the bottom out firmly. Place in the refrigerator to chill a bit while you make the filling.
Make the filling:
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/4 cup water. Stir the mixture gently so you don’t splash any up the sides. Place over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and allow the mixture to boil without stirring. Watch the mixture carefully; I am openly nervous about making caramel, so I find that if you’re like me, hovering over it helps a lot. Watch it until you see it turn a medium amber color, and once it does, remove it from the heat and slowly stream in the cream. Your mixture will bubble up, but whisk mightily until it stops.
Place the pan back over low heat and whisk in the butter, stirring constantly until caramel is thickened, around 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Mix to combine, then stir in you toasted walnuts until evenly coated. Take your crust out of the refrigerator, pour in the caramel-walnut mixture, flatten with a spatula (moving any walnuts piles around to get an even distribution) and place back in the fridge for at least 1 hour to chill.
Make the glaze:
Place the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in the bowl of a double boiler over just-simmering water. Allow everything to melt, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and combined. Remove from the heat and stir to cool it slightly; I leave mine sit a few minutes.
Pour the glaze over the tart, focusing on the center, and use a spatula to smooth the top and spread it out to the sides and over the walnut bumps. You should be able to easily cover the tart; remember, the smoother your walnuts, the easier this is. Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours before serving to set the glaze and meld everything together.
When ready to serve, set it out for at least a few minutes, maybe 20 (depending on the heat where you are) before slicing; it’s rock-hard when cold. I keep a slightly damp towel near my knife when I slice it so i can wipe off any residual chocolate as I go; it makes for nice, clean pieces.
This may look like an innocent tart, but remember: it’s a candy bar, and it should be served accordingly. I initially cut this into 12 generous slices, which proved great for the big eaters, but too daunting for even those of us prone to dessert-eating. I would aim for at least 16 slices (4 per quarter tart), if not 20. I could have gotten 24 out of this, because we cut my original slices in half for smaller servings. If you’re having a party with lots of other food, and you’re serving this with other desserts and/or ice cream, definitely aim for 24 pieces.
Stores well in the refrigerator, sealed in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.