True fact: with only FOUR ingredients, you can make this tart which, when I put a bite in my mouth, knowing full well that it was going to be delicious, made me say out loud that it was delicious. Expectations = met.
It's also easy to make ahead, in stages. But, look, it's also easy to completely mess up a blind-baked crust:
That was my exciting disaster, using the Smitten Kitchen Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell—it did exactly the opposite of shrinking. See how there's no room in there for fantastic caramel? I don't really know what happened because I've made that shell before and it worked. This time, I just got a big sugar cookie in a pie pan. I ended up using a Martha Stewart tart shell recipe and it worked out fine.
Making this recipe made me a bit nervous because I'm way chicken when it comes to making caramel. But did you know that in college I had a volleyball coach who gave us audio tapes that guided us through a visualization exercise? It sounds hokey and the background music was corny, but it kind of worked. We had to lay down and relax and then visualize ourselves doing whatever we wanted—generally something that we were struggling with. And then, sometimes, we were better at what we visualized.
So, because I know that I am sometimes afraid to take caramel far enough to get a nice brown into it, I prepped myself by visualizing myself not being a chicken and letting the caramel turn browner than I was comfortable with. I think it worked—maybe a little too well. My caramel had a slight hint of burnt at the end, but I decided that I kind of liked it. Mind, you are so freaking powerful!
Salted Butter Tart
Adapted from Leite's Culinaria
Crust: you need to have an already-baked crust at the ready. Go ahead and try the SK one linked to above, because I think my disaster was caused by me, not the recipe.
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 stick salted butter, diced
1 c. whipping cream
Put the sugar and butter in large pot and start heating over medium.
The above mixture will eventually turn into caramel. During that process, you should stir it occasionally and not get afraid when it looks like the butter is separating from the sugar—press onward!
In the meantime, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Once it hits the boil, turn off the heat.
Imagine the shade of brown of your favorite caramel. When your butter-sugar-caramel reaches a shade lighter than that caramel, turn off the heat—the mixture will continue to cook a bit once you turn off the flame.
Now, slowly stir in the warmed-up cream. Spatter, spatter, bubbling caramel, oh no things aren't quite mixing together, but do! not! worry! because once the cream has been added you can turn the burner on again, but to low. Stir a bit, everything will come together, it might take about 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
Once 10-minutes-cooled, pour the caramel into your prepared tart crust. Chill for 2 hours to set but serve at room temperature, probably with a dollop of whipped cream and, if you don't get too distracted (which I totally did), maybe with some fancy salt sprinkled on top.