Making caramel can be nerve-racking the first few times, but it becomes much easier with practice. Melted sugar doesn’t start to caramelise until it reaches about 171 degrees Celsius, at which point it’s a pale straw colour. It gains more complexity – and becomes less sweet – if you take the caramel to a darker colour; I like it when it’s medium-dark amber. But there’s a fine line between just right and burnt, and if you let it get too dark, the caramel turns bitter and acrid. When the caramel turns golden, turn off the flame and let the residual heat continue to cook it, and don’t take your eyes off it. Just before it gets to the colour you like, dip the bottom of the pan in cold water, then immediately stir in the butter and cream. Chocolate and salted caramel tarts The chocolate tart dough recipe is adapted from one in The Pie and Pastry Bible (1998), by Rose Levy Beranbaum, while the caramel recipe is based on one in The Last Course (2001), by Claudia Fleming. If you don’t have enough flan rings (this recipe can fill about 20), line the ones you have with dough, bake the shells completely, then remove the rings before lining and baking more. Or, make as many tarts as you need for the day, then refrigerate the remaining dough, caramel and glaze until the next time you want dessert; that way, the tarts are fresh, which is when they taste best. The caramel and glaze can be warmed gently in the microwave, or over hot water in a bain-marie, and any leftovers will keep in the fridge for at least two weeks. Because these tarts are so rich, I make them quite small, using flan rings about 5cm in diameter and 1cm high. You can also use tart rings with removable bottoms. For the chocolate tart dough: 180 grams icing sugar 50 grams unsweetened cocoa powder ¼ tsp fine sea salt 250 grams unsalted butter, chilled 400 grams plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for rolling 2 large eggs For the caramel: 400 grams granulated sugar 85 grams light corn syrup 120 grams unsalted butter 150ml cream For the glaze: 240ml cream 200 grams bittersweet chocolate (with 65 per cent cacao content) Fleur de sel or Maldon salt, for sprinkling 1 First make the dough. Put the icing sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt in a food processor and pulse to combine thoroughly. 2 Cut the cold butter into 1cm chunks, add to the food processor and process until the butter is about the size of small peas. Add the flour and pulse briefly. Transfer the ingredients to a large bowl and mix so the flour is evenly distributed. 3 Whisk the eggs and drizzle them over the dry ingredients. Mix quickly with your fingertips until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened into a shaggy dough. Knead briefly until the dough is smooth and cohesive. 4 Shape the dough into three discs, then wrap each one in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour. A recipe for churros: easy to make, dangerously easy to eat 5 If the dough has been refrigerated for longer than an hour and is too hard, leave it at room temperature until it is pliable, but still cold. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 3mm thick. Line the flan rings with the dough, making the edges a little thicker and trimming off the excess at the top of the rings. Put them on a parchment-lined baking tray and use a fork to poke a few holes in the bottom of each shell. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Cut small squares of foil and press them over the dough in the rings. 6 Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the tray of flan rings in the oven. Bake for five minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 degrees and bake for five more minutes. Remove the foil, then bake until the shells are completely cooked – they will smell fragrant, have a matt surface, and will have shrunk slightly from the sides of the rings. Cool to room temperature, then remove the rings. 7 For the caramel, put the butter and cream by the side of the stove. Pour cold water into a large metal bowl, filling it halfway. How to make a white chocolate and green tea mousse cake 8 Put the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan and add the corn syrup and about 150ml of cold water (the exact amount doesn’t matter; the water is only to help dissolve the sugar). Place the pan over a medium-high flame and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved. 9 Dip a pastry brush into hot water and wash down all the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan. Cook the mixture without stirring until it turns pale amber. Swirl the pan so the caramel colours evenly. Turn off the flame and let the caramel continue to simmer (from the residual heat) until it turns a medium-dark amber. Immediately dip the bottom of the pan into the cold water (it will sizzle). 10 Place the pan on a thick, dry dish cloth, then immediately stir in the butter and cream: it will bubble vigorously and create extremely hot steam so wrap your stirring hand in a dry tea towel to prevent scalding, and avert your face from the steam. Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally – the mixture should be fairly thick but still liquid enough so it can be spooned into the tart shells. Fill the shells almost to the brim with the caramel and leave at room temperature for about 45 minutes. How to make profiteroles with a Southeast Asian twist 11 For the glaze, finely chop the chocolate, then put it in a bowl. 12 Heat the cream until it boils, then pour it over the chocolate. Allow to stand for a few minutes for the chocolate to melt. Pour most of the cream back into the saucepan (it doesn’t matter if some of the melted chocolate goes with it). Start whisking the melted chocolate and add the cream a little at a time to create a smooth, glossy emulsion. 13 Coat each tart with a thin, smooth layer of the glaze and leave at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle each tart with a few grains of salt. The caramel is gooey at room temperature; it becomes firmer and chewier if refrigerated.