Photographs by Ell.

Chewy Caramel & Vanilla Bean Tart

The caramel and vanilla bean combination makes for one of the most delicious tarts I have ever eaten. The nutty shortcrust pastry adds a whole new dimension to this beautiful tart filling. And let me assure you, making your own toffee and pastry is totally achievable. Perfect for any occasion, this tart will be a hit with everyone!

What you'll need: 
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 cup water
100mL milk
100mL thickened cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
165g salted butter, softened and chopped into cubes
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Vanilla ice cream to serve

125g butter, softened and chopped into cubes
1 egg
90g icing sugar
30g almond meal
250g plain flour

What to do:
Start by making the pastry. In a food processor, combine the butter, egg, icing sugar and almond meal. Process until the butter has been mixed in and everything has come together. Add flour and process for a little longer until well combined. Lightly flour a work surface and knead pastry until it is smooth and you can roll it into a ball. This should take 2 minutes at the most. 

Cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (longer if possible). Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a tin - use a 24cm tart tin or spring-form pan as these will allow you to remove your tart without any accidents! 

In a saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves or the syrup comes to a boil. LEAVE IT ALONE. Seriously, do not stir it and do not scrape any sugar off the sides of the pan otherwise it will crystallise! 

When the syrup has turned a light golden colour and/or reduced to almost half of what you started with turn the heat off. This usually takes about 10-15mins, but just keep an eye on it. Do not stir it yet. Remove the saucepan from the hot plate and let it cool while you complete the next part.

In another saucepan, combine the milk, cream and vanilla. Bring this to a simmer - it should be bubbling around the edges and steaming. Using a clean metal spoon, stir about a third of this hot mixture into the sugar syrup. Mix well! Add half of the remaining milk to the syrup and stir before adding the last of it. Keep stirring until combined. 

Add each cube of butter, stirring well after each addition. Then stir in the golden syrup. You should now have a golden, caramelly sauce. Pour into a heat proof bowl and set aside.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out between two layers of baking paper. It should be about 5mm thick. Place it on top of your tin and measure up to make sure your pastry will fit in the tin. (This is also a good time to practice how you will put your pastry in.) After making any adjustments, remove the top layer of baking paper and flip your pastry into the tin - the baking paper side should be facing up. Push your pastry right into the tin, trim any excess but leave the baking paper on. Pour rice in on top of this and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. 

Remove the baking paper filled with rice from the tart shell and discard. Whisk the beaten eggs into your (now) cooled caramel sauce. Pour the caramel filling into the tart shell and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked and especially golden brown. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the filling set. Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream. Yum yum!