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There are a number of different ways to make a caramel tart, and the methods someone chooses will depend on the results he or she wishes to produce. The crust of this type of tart can take a number of different forms, from puff pastry or store-bought crust to a standard pie crust or even a chocolate crust. There are also different approaches to making the caramel filling in a caramel tart, as well as any toppings that may be desired.
The crust of a caramel tart is the foundation and often the first thing a person should consider. Some recipes will call for puff pastry to be used, and unless someone has a great deal of experience and the inclination to create it, it is usually best to simply buy puff pastry at a grocery store. Fresh crust can also be made and used, and this will usually be either a standard pie crust or a chocolate crust that further accentuates the flavors of the caramel.
If someone chooses to make a fresh crust for a caramel tart, a recipe should be selected that uses both butter and shortening. Each type of fat lends different features to the crust, so by using both the resulting crust will be tender and flakey. There are also crust recipes that include both vodka and water in the recipe. Vodka produces less gluten in the crust than water alone, producing a flakier crust while the vodka flavor and alcohol is baked out. Someone may also wish to use a chocolate crust for a caramel tart, which is often as simple as including cocoa powder in the crust recipe.
The caramel filling of a caramel tart can be made in one of two ways. One common way is to make a simple caramel sauce by combining sugar, light corn syrup, a little water, salt, and butter in a sauce pan. This is then heated to boiling and cooked without stirring until it reaches a golden or amber color and just begins to smell toasty. The caramel is then removed from heat and heavy cream and crème fraîche are added to create a thick, rich sauce. This filling is then poured into a crust that has been blind baked, and the caramel tart is chilled until set, usually several hours or overnight.
Other recipes will make the caramel filling following a similar process. Combine brown sugar, flour, vanilla essence, and egg yolks together, then add milk and bring the mixture to a boil. This is cooked until a similar golden brown, poured into the crust, and chilled. Different types of toppings can also be featured on a caramel tart, such as whipped cream or chocolate ganache. Some recipes call for a meringue topping over the caramel sauce in the crust, which is baked to lightly brown the meringue, and then chilled thoroughly before serving.