Miraloma Elementary

Blogblock no more! Caramel walnut tart with chocolate ganache

The unfinished tart I instagrammed last night and with fingers crossed that it would get me blogging again? Crostata caramello, noci e ganache a metà


It was a hit with the indomitable moms gathered around my table for a send off to our children's 4th grade teacher, fabulous Mia Straghalis, the stunning blond in the middle of the group pictured below.

Celebrating the teacher


The evening was a blast and the tart beyond easy.

So from #blogblock, I hope to now be back to #almostweeklyblogging-or as close to it as possible...







Crostata di caramello e noci con ganache di cioccolato amaro Caramel and walnut tart with chocolate ganache

for a 10" tart mold 1 dose pasta frolla 1.5 cups walnuts

The whole cake was eaten to quickly for me to take a full picture!

1 cup salted caramel sauce (see note) 250 ml cream 250 grams bittersweet chocolate 1/2 tablespoon butter

Make the crust. Wrap it tightly and place it in the refrigerator to rest for at least half an hour.

Line the tart mold with parchment paper.

Roll the pasta frolla into a disk about 1/8" thick. Carefully roll it around the pin then unroll to drape over the mold. Gently press it in to line the bottom and sides.

Let the excess dough fall over the edges, then press all around with a rolling pin to let the overhanging dough fall off. Prick the bottom and place in the freezer.

Pre-heat the oven to 325˚.

Roughly chop the walnuts.

Gently heat the caramel sauce in a small sauce pot. Pour in the walnuts and mix to coat. Let cool to lukewarm.

In the meantime, par-bake the tart shell for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and spread the walnuts and caramel on the bottom of the tart shell in a thin, even layer.

Return to the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

In the meantime, chop the chocolate and place in an aluminum bowl with the cream.

Set the bowl on a sauce pot over simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and the water does not come to a boil.

The steam will warm the cream and melt the chocolate. Whisk everything together to a homogeneous color and velvety appearance. Stir in the butter.

Pour the chocolate ganache into the tart shell and over the walnuts in caramel. Let set until thick enough to be cut without running.


  • I used a shelf stable salted caramel sauce I made in a canning class with the great Shakirah Simley. If you are inclined to make fresh caramel sauce, there are many great recipes to follow.
  • The completely assembled tart is best left to set at room temperature, but, if in a pinch, do place it in the refrigerator to thicken more quickly.
  • While butter is not necessary for the ganache, I find it gives it a sheen finish I enjoy.



Truffles and chocolates

When I asked Ernesto what would he wanted for breakfast Saturday of last week, he answered: "Spaghetti al tartufo, mamma-Spaghetti with truffle, mommie". And yes, he was serious. Tartufi marzolini

The first week in March, both Ernesto's current school, Miraloma Elementary, and his former pre-school, La Scuola Internazionale di San Francisco, hold their yearly auctions and every year, my truffle guy ships a generous in-kind donation straight from Italy to contribute to the success of the events.

As he's a stickler for quality, Piero Cipriani always puts in a sample for Ernesto and me to test. This year, we were blessed with 300 grams of bianchetti or marzolini, white spring truffles bursting with uncomplicated earthy flavors that I find best brought out by the subtle addition of anchovies.

By the way, Piero will ship directly from Italy truffles that are dug by cousins of his. Should you be interested, I would be happy to put you in touch with him.


On the chocolate front, I have been putting my training at Perugina's Scuola del Cioccolato to good use...

Baci e Cioccolato 1On Valentine's Day, 50 people at San Francisco's Italian Cultural Institute learned how to say "I love you" the Italian way by making and eating Baci Perugina. We all had a blast and went home happily covered in chocolate.

Over the next 2 month, at La Scuola di Eataly in Chicago on Saturday 4/5 and in New York, on Saturday 4/12 and 5/10, during 3 classes on Baci, I will make them, chat about their history, use them as ingredients in two of my original creations, chat about how my family shaped Perugina from a high end confectionery shop in the heart of my hometown into the world wide brand it is today, and share memories of growing up under this delectable legacy.

I have worshiped at the altar of anything associated with Lidia Bastianich since my first risotto at her NYC's legendary Felidia Ristorante in the mid 80's, so I am thrilled beyond what words can express at the thought of teaching at Eataly, a place I consider the ode to all I hold sacred in my chosen field.

Click on my event calendar for details on registering for the Perugina chocolate workshops. I hope to see some of you there and, if you are reading from Chicago or New York, spread the word.

Spaghetti con salsa di tartufi bianchetti Spaghetti with March white truffles (aka: Ernesto's favorite breakfast)Spaghetti ai marzolini

for 6 people: 100 grams March white truffles 5 olive oil packed anchovies fillets 1 to 2 teaspoons green garlic (or 1/2 clove regular garlic) olive oil salt to taste black pepper to taste 1 pound bag of spaghetti 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

Clean the truffles as follows: loosen the dirt with a new nail brush. Finish removing the dirt under running water while scrubbing each truffle with the brush. Dry well with a paper towel. Note that this needs to be a very quick operation, the truffles shouldn't be in the water flow for more than a couple of minutes.

Keep the smallest truffle (or a piece of truffle) whole and place the rest in the bowl of a food processor with the anchovies and green garlic.

Adding the olive oil in a stream, grind into a loose paste. Add black pepper to taste, and salt if necessary, though the sauce should be salty enough from the anchovies.

Place the truffle sauce in a warm, shallow serving bowls.

Cook the spaghetti very al dente in boiling, well salted water. If using, chop the pine nuts roughly.

Fish the spaghetti out of the water with tongs and transfer them into the bowl with the truffle sauce and toss well to coat thoroughly with the truffle sauce.

If they appear a little too dry, add a few spoonfuls of pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce.

Shave the reserved truffle on top and serve immediately as it is or dusted with the pine nuts.


  • I find that truffles are best kept well wrapped in a paper towel then placed in an airtight container.
  • Keep the dirt on them until you are ready to use them, it helps preserve them longer.
  • I have eaten well kept truffles up until after 2+ weeks of having received them from Piero and they were still delicious, though they had lost a bit of fragrance and the texture was a little softer.
  • Should you wish to freeze them, clean them as outlined above then wrap them in paper towel and aluminum place them in an airtight container and freeze them.
  • Better to use them frozen, without defrosting.
  • Note that frozen truffles are better used in sauces rather than shaved.