When I was a kid, probably around 4 or 5 years old, I rubbed my eyes and all hell broke loose.
Next thing I knew, my mother had me bent over the bathroom sink and was repeatedly splashing water into my eyes and frantically asking me what exactly I had touched. In my memory, this is all a blur of the bright bathroom lights, moisture, burning, and screaming, coming from both me and my mother. I couldn’t remember touching anything but the potpourri at my friend Kaitlyn’s house. For years, I was worried that if I touched the wrong potpourri, I would be doomed to relive this experience.
Recently, when recounting this story, I heard my mom say that their theory was that a neighbor had dragged some garbage bags down to the end of the street (there was a clearing there, so this man must have been a litterbug, the scourge of the neighborhood), and some hot pepper seeds had fallen out of the bag. I had apparently picked them up and shoved them in my pocket, as children are wont to do. When my parents tore my dress off of me to rush me to the sink, the seeds fell out of my pocket, and I guess that was their “ah ha” moment. Now, I will rummage through just about anyone’s potpourri with glee, but I’m a little anxious about handling peppers.
But when I went to the grocery store, these cayenne peppers were calling my name, displayed in a basket with bright lights gleaming off of them. Nothing this cute and little could possibly be harmful. (These are also the famous last words of parents and pet owners.) I thought the peppers would make an excellent garnish for this dessert, but I wanted to candy them because, hello? It’s dessert.
When the candied peppers came out of the oven and had cooled down, I tentatively took a bite off the end of one of them, then rushed to the sink, this time to splash water into my mouth, not my eyes. Not all the candied peppers were as hot as that first one, but you can’t tell by looking at them which ones will absolutely destroy you. Eat this garnish at your own risk!
The tart itself carries some heat from the sriracha, but it is mellowed out by the silky dark chocolate and the creamy dulce de leche. (Side note: I think my baby’s breath smells like dulce de leche, which is kind of amazing.) Chocolate tarts always look impressive at dinner parties, but they aren’t terribly difficult to put together. Especially when you use this method of making the crust, which requires no chilling and rolling. Just press-dough change-o! (See what I did there? I don’t like me, either.)
This tart can be eaten at room temperature once it’s cooled down a bit on the rack, but I think it’s best served chilled because it emphasizes the heat of the sriracha. But seriously, watch out for those pepper garnishes. Or at least arm yourself with a cool glass of milk.
- 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (90 grams) confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and frozen (or very cold)
- 1 large egg
- dried beans or pie weights (for blind baking)
- 10 ounces (280 grams) 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup (240 mL) heavy cream
- ½ cup (120 mL) whole milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
- ½ cup homemade or commercially prepared dulce de leche
- water for boiling
- 8-12 red chile peppers
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Combine flour, confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter butter cubes over the top of the dry ingredients, then pulse in the food processor until the butter chunks are about the size of peas. Add the egg and process until the mixture comes together into a uniform clump.
- Press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan. Run your finger around the top edge of the dough to create a flat edge. Poke the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork. Place the tart pan in the freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. When tart shell has been chilled thoroughly, tightly press foil (shiny side down) against the dough. Fill the foil-lined shell with dried beans or pie weights. Place tart shell on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and beans. Bake shell for another 5 minutes, until the bottom of the crust is dull in appearance. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
- Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, combine cream and milk and heat to a simmer over medium-low heat. When the cream and milk mixture begins to simmer, pour it over the chocolate. Let rest for 30 seconds, then stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in sugar and salt. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Stir in Sriracha sauce.
- With a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the dulce de leche gently and evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Pour in the chocolate filling until it is almost level with the top of the crust (there may be a small amount of filling left over).
- Bake the tart (on the baking sheet) for 30-35 minutes, until the top is set and the center is slightly jiggly when you nudge the pan. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Reduce oven temperature to 200°F.
- Bring half a small pan of water to a boil. Add chile peppers and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove the peppers with a slotted spoon and dump out the water. Combine ½ cup water and sugar in the pan. Heat over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Add the peppers, turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, then cool on the pan on a wire rack. Place peppers around the circumference of the tart as a garnish. Eat with caution, they are very spicy!
- *If you want the look of the chile pepper garnish without the work, simply place raw red chile peppers on top of the tart!