Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Matthew's Cake

I was about to make a cake for my friend Matthew's birthday when I saw the cover of this month's Saveur.

(image from Saveur)

It is an image that gave me a serious case of deja vu since I have eaten that tart probably 25 times, feeling the thrill looking at those crystal nuggets of sea salt glistening on top of dark chocolate ganache.

Its a crisp shell, filled with a slightly gooey caramel, covered in a thick coating of dark chocolate ganache, dusted with grey sea salt. And there goes a button on my pants.

Crust, so easy to make.

I made it in the afternoon, while juggling cooking a dinner for out-of-town friends, afterschool pick-up, and right as the caramel struck 365 degrees, Ruby walked in the kitchen with her hand full of dirty diaper she had ripped off in the midst of potty-training cognition.

So images are brief to the shell and the finale, since in between is a blur. All I know is that the caramel has a deep, almost burnt-sugar taste that mellows once you add butter, heavy cream, and creme fraiche. I used sour cream instead of creme fraiche, and it tasted rich and just as divine.

As for the ganache, my heart belongs to Green and Black 70% chocolate. For the salt, I used my black Himalayan sea salt from Trader Joe's, which gives great contrast to baked goods.

For Matthew, I decided to keep it simple, and monogram the tart with his initial in large dragees. I sprinkled a mix of the black salt and white sea salt for contrast.

Marlow and Sons Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Tart (adapted from Saveur magazine)


1 1⁄2 cups organic flour
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
10 tbsp. organic unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1⁄2 cups organic cane sugar
3 tbsp. organic light corn syrup
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
6 tbsp. organic unsalted butter
6 tbsp. organic heavy cream
1 tbsp. organic sour cream (or crème fraîche which is harder to come by at times)

1⁄2 cup organic heavy cream
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, such as Green and Black 70%, finely chopped
Himalayan black sea salt for garnish

Make the crust:

1.Heat oven to 350˚.

2.Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. In standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla.

4.Mix in dry ingredients. Transfer dough to a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan.

5. Place in freezer for 15 minutes. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Make the caramel:

1.In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil.

2.Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 365°. You may have to remove right before if sugar smells like it is about to burn, the temperature can rise very quickly. Dont have a small child run around in a dirty diaper at this point.

3.Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, and sour cream or crème fraîche. The mixture will bubble up, but keep whisking until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; place in freezer for 2-3 hours if you are in a rush like I tend to be, or you can refrigerate for 4-5.

Make the ganache:

1. Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat, or heat cream in glass mixing cup in microwave for 1 minute.

2.Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth.

3.Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours. Or be like me, and pop it in the freezer because you are running late, again.

4.Sprinkle tart with black and white sea salt, slice, and serve chilled. If tart is not chilled, the caramel may get runny and become a creamy, gooey pool that you have to spoon up and eat all to yourself.


  1. THANK YOU - i think i have just found the cake i will be requesting from my husband for my birthday! Your work is perfection, so glad to have stumbled upon your site and blog today! Very inspiring!

  2. Oh my goodness this look delectable!! I cannot wait to give it a try. Your work is breathtaking!

  3. Sarah, I can't say enough how delicious this cake was. Its arrival in its own car service foretold of its specialness. Thank you so much for making Matthew's 30th bday so sweet! xx Lizzie