I was invited to a barbecue last summer so I prepared this tart for the dessert. The host is a caramel lover, so I wanted to please her with this airy caramel mousse.
The pear cubes cooked with the almond cream added texture and freshness, and were not too soft, the cocoa nibs were crunchy and a bit bitter, which balances the caramel mousse (not too sweet though). The guests loved it.
This cake is made of:
- pastry crust (pâte sucrée)
- almond cream with pear and cocoa nibs
- caramel mousse
I always prepare this almond shortcrust with the quantities below, use what I need and freeze the rest of the dough for a maximum of one month, wrapped properly in a cling wrap and placed in an airtight container. I rarely freeze it once cooked, but it can be done for a few days, especially if you don’t have the time to prepare the whole tart on the same day. You can for instance freeze the crust half-cooked, and when needed you just finish blind-cooking it or fill it with almond cream and cook it, in both cases without unfreezing it.
This dough requires 3 hours of resting time, try to respect it, otherwise it will shrink in the oven. And once lined on the tin, it needs at least one more hour to rest. What I generally do: I prepare the dough in the evening, let it rest overnight, and in the morning I line the mold, and bake after at least one hour.
- Stand mixer with flat beater
- Cling wrap
- 20cm stainless steel tart ring (check picture below)
- 150 g Butter At room temperature
- 1 g Fleur de sel French sea salt
- 95 g Icing sugar
- 1 piece Vanilla pod
- 30 g Almond powder
- 60 g Egg One medium egg
- 250 g Flour All purpose - Cake flour - Type 45
- Cut the butter in small cubes and let it soften at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. At the same time take the egg out of the refregirator.
- Place the soft butter in the bowl of the stand mixer equipped with the flat beater.
- Mix and combine (in this order) with the salt, icing sugar, vanilla seeds, almond powder and the egg.
- Sift the flour.
- Add approximately 1/4 to the dough and combine.
- Add the rest of the flour and mix quickly, just until combined. Do not overwork the dough otherwise it will become elastic and shrink during the baking. At this stage the dough is "creamy" and that's normal.
- Place it on a cling wrap and flatten it (approximately 2cm thickness). Wrap it properly and let it rest for 3 hours if possible.
- Take 220g of dough and roll it out to a thickness of 2mm*.
- Grease the ring and place it on a tray covered with a silicone mat or baking paper.
- Line the ring* and place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven at 165°C.
- Line the pastry with parchment paper and add baking beans (ceramic ones if possible), to weigh the pastry down.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
Almond cream with pear and cocoa nibs
This cream usually used to fill tarts shells and baked, can be prepared in advance and refregirated in a glass jar in the freezer. Whenever you need it, just defreeze it before pouring it in the tart’s shell. Add the pear cubes and cocoa nibs at the last minute.
- Stand mixer equipped with the flat beater
- Piping bag
- 70 g Butter At room temperature
- 40 g Cocoa nibs
- 20 g Icing sugar
- 65 g Icing sugar
- 90 g Almond powder
- 8 g Corn starch
- 50 g Egg One small egg
- 1 piece Pear Comice variety if possible
- Bring the butter (cut into cubes) and the egg to room temperature.
- Caramelize the cocoa nibs by heating them with the 20g of icing sugar and stirring from time to time until getting a nice golden color. Let them cool on a silicone mat.
- Place the butter in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix it with the icing sugar.
- Add the almond powder and the corn starch.
- Add the egg and mix until just combined.
- Peel the pear and cut out small cubes (1cmx1cm). Add 100g to the almond cream.
- Add the caramelized cocoa nibs (leave just a few for the decoration).
- Pour into a piping bag and fill the precooked tart shell evenly, and leave 1mm to the top.
- Continue baking for 20 minutes until the crust turns to a nice golden color. Do not hesitate to remove the ring during the last 5 minutes to color the sides as well.
Caramel sauce for the mousse
When it comes to caramel, it’s recommended to use a thermometer in order to control the cooking temperature, it makes all the difference. Actually a caramel which is not cooked enough will be too sweet, and a caramel which is over cooked will be too bitter. You have also to keep on stirring while cooking it on a medium heat.
- Stainless steel (or ceramic) container
- Cling wrap
- 30 g Glucose syrup
- 50 g Granulated sugar
- 80 g Whipping cream
- 8 g Butter
- 2 g Fleur de sel French sea salt
- Boil the cream.
- Place the glucose syrup in the saucepan and melt it over a medium heat (without boiling it).
- Add the sugar. Let it melt and camaelize until getting a nice dark golden amber color. You can press (not stir!) the sugar with the whisk to help it melt uniformly.
- Add the butter and the salt and stir with the whisk.
- Add the hot cream and cook until 106°C and transfer it immediately (to stop the cooking process) in a stainless steel (or ceramic) container.
- Cover directly to the surface with cling wrap and let it cool at room temperature while preparing the rest of the ingredients for the mousse.
This mousse made with crème anglaise and mascarpone is very creamy, smooth and a bit airy. If the caramel sauce is cooked properly, the mousse will be perfectly balanced and not too sweet.
- Mixing bowl
- Stand mixer with whip
- Cling wrap
- Piping bag with Saint-Honore nozzle
- 70 g Whipping cream 35% millk fat
- 120 g Caramel sauce for mousse Just cooled
- 18 g Egg yolk The yolk of 1 egg
- 1 g Gelatin (1/2 of a sheet) Gold strength (200 bloom)*
- 125 g Mascarpone
- Soak the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
- Boil the whipping cream and the caramel for mousse.
- Mix the egg yolks and sugar. Add 1/3 of the caramel mixture and stir.
- Preapre a "crème anglaise": pour the mixture back into the saucepan and simmer over low heat. It should thicken slightly and coat the back of a spoon*. The temperature should not exceed 84°C.
- Strain the crème anglaise.
- Wring gently the gelatin and dissolve it in the crème anglaise.
- Pour into the bowl of the stand mixer, cover with a cling wrap directly on the surface and chill for 1 hour.
- Once the crème anglaise properly cooled but not completely set, add the mascarpone and whip like a chantilly. If by mistake you let the cream set, you can leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes before adding the mascarpone.
- Pour the mousse in the piping bag with Saint-Honoré nozzle.
Once the tart base (pastry crust with hazelnut and almond cream) is properly cooled, pipe the caramel mousse using the Saint-Honoré nozzle (or a plain round one), starting from the centre towards the edges.
Decorate the tart with fresh pear slices and caramelized cocoa nibs.
When preparing the dough, try not to overwork it in order to get a light and crumbly pastry. Actually the more you work and beat the batter, the more the gluten will be activated and will form elastic strands, making the dough tough and stretchy and thus will shrink when baked.
It’s important to respect the resting time for the dough, before rolling it out and after lining the ring. This will relax the gluten particles and prevent the shrinkage of the pastry.
For a more modern look and a nice finishing, I prefer to use the tarts rings especially the perforated ones, they allow a better grip of the dough and more uniform baking. If you cannot find those type of rings, you can simply use any stainless steel ring or tin. I do not recommend using the ceramic pans, because the grip of the pastry dough won’t be as good as on the metallic ones, and the bottom will require longer cooking time (but this is only a personal choice).
I always store my tarts (if they survive!) in airtight metallic tins, it’s better to keep the crust crispy.