Fergus Henderson’s salted chocolate and caramel tart – recipe

Here is an expression of the gradual erosion of chocolate. Fergus notes that the increasing challenge of finding a chocolate bar that does not contain salt is an example of a good idea going too far. For years his loyalties have lain solidly with Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut Bar – affectionately called “Fnerr”. But of late, he laments, he has begun to recognise its rough edges. Fergus and Fnerr have parted ways.

In spite of (or maybe evidenced by) a little recent saturation, the combination of chocolate, caramel and salt is still a good idea, and so here is our tart. A very rich tart, you will not need very much.

Serves at least 16
For the base
plain flour 200g
cocoa powder 45g
bicarbonate of soda 7g
demerara sugar 180g
caster sugar 25g
Maldon sea salt 5g
unsalted butter 225g, softened
dark chocolate 225g, chopped finely – the pieces should be smaller than a chocolate chip

For the caramel
caster sugar 225g
unsalted butter 70g, cut into chunks
double cream 80ml

For the chocolate filling
double cream 500g
glucose 40g
dark chocolate 400g, broken into pieces
butter 40g
sea salt for sprinkling

First make the tart case. It is easiest by far to use a machine for this. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars and the salt, place in a food processor with the butter, and whizz until a loose dough forms. At this point add the chocolate and mix again. Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest for half an hour or so in the fridge. If you are making the pastry any further in advance, take it out of the fridge in good time – you need the softness of room-temperature dough for it to work. When ready, butter and flour a tart tin and roll the pastry between two sheets of baking parchment – the shards of chocolate would tear clingfilm, but the dough is too sticky to be rolled loose. Line the case with the pastry, rolled to around 4mm thick, line the pastry with tin foil, fill with baking beans and bake in a medium oven (160C fan/gas mark 4) for 25-30 minutes. When you remove the case from the oven, wait 10 minutes before removing the beans, otherwise the hot, soft pastry may tear. Once you have done so, press the base and sides all over with the back of a spoon while it is still warm – the aim here is to smooth the interior ready for the caramel, pushing down the inside corners which may have risen and rounded a little in the baking.

Once the case is cool, make your caramel. It is essential to move quickly when the caramel is ready, so ensure that all your ducks are in a row before you start. Place the sugar in a scrupulously dry pan and melt over a medium high heat. Do not stir! Stirring will result in a crystallised disaster. Swirling the pan a little is allowed. By the time the sugar has dissolved you should have a good colour, trusting that it can be quite dark and still be comfortable. Throw the butter in first and follow with the cream, whisk them together quickly and, at the very moment that they are smoothly incorporated, pour it into the case immediately. With speed, pick up your tart case and move it around, tilting it to ensure that the caramel covers the entire base. Leave aside to cool.

Finally, heat the cream with the glucose and take it just shy of a simmer. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and pour the hot cream over the chunks in three stages, stirring gently to incorporate – the first will melt the chocolate, the second will loosen the mixture and the third will make the smooth ganache. Then pour the chocolate mixture into the tart and leave to cool and solidify.