If you love caramel and you love chocolate, do not be deterred by having to make caramel and custard- this dessert is so worth the effort!
makes six 4 1/2-inch tarts
1/2 cup (1stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
2/3 cup chopped roasted salted almonds
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature ( it is easier to separate eggs when cold, and then bring the yolks to room temperature )
2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cold water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
sweetened whipped cream
1/2 cup chopped roasted salted almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
to make the crust:
In a medium size bowl, combine the butter, cookies crumbs and almonds. Press firmly into six 4 1/2-inch lightly buttered tart pans with removable bottoms. Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.
to make the filling:
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the corn starch and salt until well blended. Set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Set over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, and boil without stirring until the syrup becomes a deep amber color, about 10 minutes. To prevent the syrup from becoming grainy, use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush down any sugar crystals sticking to the sides of the pan. Once the syrup becomes deep amber, remove from the heat - pay attention as the syrup nears the end of the cooking time because it can go from deep amber to burnt very quickly! Slowly and carefully add the cream to the syrup, whisking constantly until the cream is incorporated. Return the pan to medium-low heat and add the milk, stirring until the mixture is hot, 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the caramel mixture to the egg yolks, stirring to warm the yolks. Return the warmed yolks to the pan, and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbly, 3-5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and the vanilla.
Pour the pudding into the prepared crusts. Place a piece of waxed paper across the top of the tray to prevent a skin from forming, and allow to cool at room temperature fro 30 minutes. Remove the waxed paper, wrap the entire sheet tightly with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to chill. Serve with the sweetened whipped cream and a generous sprinkling of the roasted salted almonds.