mini peanut butter caramel & ganache tarts

remember back in january when i teased making chocolate truffles for valentine's day this year? i completely and totally forgot. and made these obnoxiously good tartlets instead.

valentine's day fell on a friday this year, which meant i would be home all day and could make pretty much whatever i wanted for dinner and dessert. i quickly skipped the thought of making an elaborate dinner, i'd rather spend my time on a good dessert. it's no secret that peanut butter and chocolate are two of jason's favorite things and his favorite combination, so as soon as i saw this tart i knew it would be perfect - with a couple small tweaks.

instead of making one large tart, i went with tartlets, knowing that one would probably be enough for the both of us - and it was. the tart needs something crunchy and salty - salted peanuts mixed into the caramel worked really well. and since neither of us are huge fans of white chocolate, i subbed some dark chocolate. these things were amazing, one of the easiest, fanciest looking desserts i've made in a long time.

mini peanut butter caramel & ganache tarts
adapted from spache the spatula
makes 4 mini tarts

i spent an afternoon making these. you'll see there's actually not a whole lot of active time; much of it is spent waiting for the dough to chill, waiting for the caramel to cool and set, waiting for the ganache to set. the crust and caramel (steps 1 & 2) could be done the day before you plan to serve them, leaving assembly, making ganache, & waiting for it to set (steps 3 & 4) to the second day.

when i made these, instead of scaling the caramel recipe by a third, i made a full batch of it. i had about a cup and a half left over. trust me, it did not go to waste. if you want to have extra on hand, the quantities in brackets represent a full - about 2 cups total - batch.

for the crust:
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

for the peanut butter caramel:
1/3 cup sugar [1 cup]
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream [1 1/4 cups]
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter [3/4 cup]
about 3 tablespoons chopped salted peanuts [1/2 cup]
hearty pinch of sea salt

for the ganache:
4 ounces dark chocolate
6 tablespoons heavy cream
  1. make the crust. cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. add the egg yolk and mix until combined. add the flour and cocoa and mix until combined. stir in the chocolate chips. scoop about 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a mini tart pans. repeat with the remaining mixture, filling 4 pans total. don't spread the mixture and chill for 1 hour. preheat your oven to 350F. using your fingers, smooth the dough along the bottom and up the sides of the pans. bake for about 15 minutes. as soon as they come out of the oven, use the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup to press the dough back into the pan. let cool completely.
  2. while the crust is baking and/or cooling, make the caramel. add the sugar to a heavy bottom saucepan and make sure it's spread out pretty evenly. heat over medium low heat until medium brown. slowly pour in the cream. your caramel will seize, that's ok. continue cooking and whisking or stirring for about 15 minutes, or until smooth. remove and discard any hard chunks of sugar that didn't dissolve. stir in the peanut butter, salted peanuts, and sea salt until the peanut butter is melted and creamy. let cool at room temperature. 
  3. once the crusts are cool, fill each with two tablespoons of the caramel. let set at room temperature or in the refrigerator. the caramel must be set before topping with the ganache. 
  4. to make the ganache, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium low heat just until it simmers. add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. top each tart with about four teaspoons of ganache. let set at room temperature or in the refrigerator.


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