Well, I love baking with chocolate! For me, a dessert without chocolate is a dessert that is missing the point!
Before choosing my recipe, I told Mike I would probably head to Switzerland for a couple of her pralines recipes whose reputation is second to none. However, as I started browsing the web, I felt like I was 15 again.
After reading about my childhood in a number of recipes, including my kringel, you should know that I lived in Haute Savoie when I was 15. I was less than an hour from Geneva and Vevey, just a few miles further. A cousin in Geneva and an aunt in Vevey often brought me over to the Franco-Swiss border. It is at that time that I tasted my first carac. This chocolate-filled tart topped with ganache and green icing is one of the most common Swiss pastries.
Carac never goes unnoticed in the windows of Swiss pastry shops with its toy-like appearance and its green color reminiscent of a flying saucer. Children, among others, enjoy it for that reason but also for its high chocolate content. Perhaps it is this that drew me to this pastry. At 15, I was still a big kid!
Mystery surrounds the origin of carac! We only know that it was already available in the early twentieth century. Why does it have this name? My research found only one answer to this question: a phonetic link to caraque, which defines a type of cocoa of high quality as the one produced in the vicinity of Caracas, as noted in The Universal Dictionary of Practical Cooking by Joseph Favre (1894), Swiss cuisine theorist and cook.
There is only one recipe for carac which is the standard traditional version. I personally made a little tweak in my preparation: I added a layer of praline onto the pie crust before spreading the ganache.
In his Guatemalan tamales, Mike talked about cocoa and the history of chocolate. I will personally tell you about the psychological benefits of chocolate which do not need to be proven anymore!
People say chocolate provides delight, pleasure, energy, and calm. It also reduces stress, make people euphoric and tone your mind. All of this?
In this period of bacalaureat exams when my “stressometer” is locked in maximum position, shouldn’t I splurge on cocoa? No no, I am not the one who has to take the baccalauret but my son Alexander does! It is obvious that the number of calories per serving is not the same as endives but you gotta do what you gotta do! I will then pronounce Mike’s favorite three words “diet starts tomorrow!”
So what did my critics at home have to say about carac! Easy enough, for my husband who has a real passion for chocolate: he just loved it. Both my sons really enjoyed carac as well. As for me, I loved it but without the frosting!
- 1 cup flour
- ⅓ cup ground almond
- ½ cup icing sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (soft), diced
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water (cold)
- 1 pinch salt
- 7 oz. dark chocolate (50% cocoa)
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 drops green food coloring
- 2 tablespoons water (cold)
- Combine flour and butter and mix dough in your stand mixer with the whip attachment.
- When the butter is completely absorbed by the flour and has a sandy consistency, add the icing sugar.
- Attach the flat beater accessory.
- Add the egg yolk and the cold water, and finally the salt.
- Mix until the dough becomes compact and smooth.
- Place the dough on a work surface and press quickly with the palm of the hand.
- Be careful not to overwork the dough so it does not turn brittle.
- Form a ball and let it rest in the fridge for two hours (or overnight if possible).
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Dust the work surface with flour. Spread the dough and prick.
- Spread dough on tartlet molds.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Combine milk, chocolate and butter in a small saucepan.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring gently.
- Remove from heat as soon as the chocolate has melted and it is smooth. Cool for 15 minutes.
- Pour the ganache into the baked and cooled tart shells and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Combine the powdered sugar, food coloring and water in a bowl.
- Stir with a spoon until reaching the consistency of a thick ribbon. Do not add water as these proportions will give a perfect icing.
- Remove the tarts from the fridge.
- Pour the icing over the chocolate and allow to harden at room temperature for one hour.