Shakira Simley

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.



Thanksgiving dessert: pears in crust with Baci and amaretti

Who'd come to my funeral if I died today? How sad would my husband be and for how long? If I really love him, I would want him to be happy without me, no? Does harboring the secret hope that he'll mourn indefinitely make me a less than ideal wife?? OMG, can't I see my marriage is in trouble??? These are but an example of the runaway thoughts that plague the recent and unsettling phenomenon of unscheduled early morning risings. I have stopped fighting them and taken the unexpected extra time to the kitchen, where a solid round of experiential cooking can always be counted on to assuage anxiety.

Here are some of the things I am finding in my early morning cooking forays:

Neil Young sounds awesome through fancy noise-canceling headphones. My friend Shakira's recipe for shrub makes the loft smell amazing. Beans simmering on the stove warm much better than a space heater. I can add one more taste memory to Ernesto's rich baggage if he rises to freshly baked cookies. Pears in crust with Baci and amaretti are a task to put together but worth the effort. My husband does love me or he wouldn't put up with this.

The above mentioned pears, which I put together for my collaboration with Perugina Chocolates and are a perfect dessert for the Thanksgiving table, will be featured in an upcoming class, the first featuring a full Baci desserts docket. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am teaching it at the Bristol Farms Cooking School in Newport Beach on December 14.

If you are not in LA, here is the recipes for those pears.


Pere ripiene di Baci e amaretti in crosta Baci and amaretti filled pears wrapped in pastry crust

for each 2 juicy and very ripe small to medium pearsPere ripiene Baci e amaretti 3 Baci 3 amaretti cookies 1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur 1/2 tablespoon sugar your favorite pastry crust recipe 1 egg 1/2 Perugina Luisa chocolate bar 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts or almonds

Finely chop the Baci and crumble the amaretti cookies. Mix the 2 together and toss with the Amaretto and sugar.

Peel the pears and cut them in half. Using a mellon baller, carefully scoop out the core to make a small hollow on each half.

Fill the hollows with the chocolates and cookies mixture and recompose each pear by reuniting two halves.

Roll the crust to about 1/2” and carefully wrap each pear with it. If you are inclined to do so, you can make some decorations resembling leaves and a stem.

Beat the egg and brush the pastry crust with it. Carefully place the wrapped pears on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350˚F for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden. Let cool completely before serving.

When ready to serve, melt the Perugina Luisa in a double boiler and finely chop the nuts. Place each pear on a plate, top with the melted chocolate and sprinkle with the nuts. Serve right away before the chocolate hardens.