I think, after doing this job for eight years now, I have come to recognise when I become besotted with an ingredient and it becomes all I want to use. It has happened with cardamon, passion fruit, caramel and a whole host of ingredients far too long to list. But one ingredient has been a constant, my baking companion, the ingredient I turn more than anything else, and of course that is chocolate. I don't discriminate, I love everything from the candy bars I grew up with to the fanciest single estate, rare bean bar. Chocolate is a magic ingredient and I will never tire of using it. Now when it comes to white chocolate, I love it for different reasons. I do love to eat it occasionally, I like its more simple sweetness, its creamy flavour, it’s comforting almost. Sadly, however, it’s hard to deny that the flavour is a little more one-note, none of the complexity of milk and dark chocolate. That is unless you cook it slowly and caramelise it, and you absolutely want to do that!
I’m not sure I can tell you just how good these tarts taste, you really need to bake a batch yourself. Think a white chocolate cheesecake but which someone has completely slathered in salted caramel, do I really need say more? This recipe uses the joy that is caramelised white chocolate, mainly because I have a small obsession with the stuff. It is dangerously easy to make, it takes the flavour of white chocolate up to a ten, adding a full dulce de leche note to the creamy vanilla notes of the chocolate, and it becomes this golden nectar that you could eat with a spoon. To further complement the flavours in this recipe I have also infused the cream for the ganache with a little spice, some fresh ginger, cinnamon and cardamon. The spicing is on the more subtle side but it really rounds out this recipe wonderfully.
Caramelised White Chocolate Cheesecake Tarts
12 four inch tart shells, fully baked (use 2x recipe here)
225g cream cheese
75g sour cream
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
85g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Caramelised White Chocolate Topping
150g white chocolate (30-35% cocoa butter content)
150ml double cream
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 cardamon pod, lightly crushed
To start this recipe you first need to make the caramelised white chocolate. Whilst this recipe only uses 150g it is easier to make in bigger batches, normally I don’t make less than 300g, thankfully it keeps for months so you can use the extra in a different recipe.
Preheat the oven to 120C.
Roughly chop the chocolate and place onto a rimmed baking tray and place into the oven for about an hour, to an hour and a half, stirring every ten minutes until the colour has gone from cream to a rich caramel colour. The darker the colour the stronger the flavour change will be and the more caramel like the chocolate will become. Think of making this chocolate the same way you brown butter, it is the milk solids in the white chocolate that caramelise and add such an amazing flavour. When it comes to the stirring, make sure every ten minutes you give the chocolate a thorough stir, making sure to scrape the chocolate from the bottom of the tray otherwise it may catch and burn. As the chocolate cooks don’t worry if the chocolate seems grainy, when you stir it, the chocolate will liquefy again. Once caramelised scrape into a container and set aside until needed. As the chocolate sets, because you haven't tempered it, the chocolate will look streaky and maybe grainy, this is absolutely fine as you’ll be melting the chocolate for the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Before making the cheesecake infuse the cream for the ganache. Add the cream, ginger, cinnamon and cardamon to a small saucepan and set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and set aside to infuse.
When ready to bake these tarts we first need to prevent the pastry from becoming soggy. Take the two leftover egg yolks and beat together and use a pastry brunch to coat the inside of the tart shells with the egg. Place these tart shells into a hot oven for a few minutes until the egg has set.
For the cheesecake filling, whisk the cream cheese until smooth then add the sour cream, egg, egg whites, sugar and vanilla until the cheesecake mixture is smooth. Scrape the cheesecake filling into a jug and divide evenly amongst the prepared tart shells, filling about two thirds full. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until the cheesecake is set around the edges but still has a little wobble in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge for 30 minutes.
For the ganache place the cream back over the heat and bring to a simmer. Place the chocolate into a bowl with sieve set over the bowl. Pour the cream through the sieve to remove the spices then set aside for a couple minutes before stirring together to form a smooth silky ganache. Pour the ganache onto the tarts and when the ganache starts to set, sprinkle with a little flaked sea salt.
I find these tarts are best kept in the fridge, which will allow the tart shells to stay crisp longer, around 2-3 days.