One of my memories of Christmas at my Grandma’s is caramel tarts. These tarts are supper simple to make – but traditionally it meant boiling a can of condensed milk – which if not done right actually becomes a very dangerous thing. Actually one day when I was boiling a can of condensed milk I went to check it – it was in a saucepan with a lid supposedly boiling away. I lifted the lid and for some reason really peered in over the pot – the water was all gone! This is a big no-no. So without replacing the lid I went to get some more water. Next minute there was an explosion! The can of condensed milk had exploded, the jaggered tin lid hit the window and had that been a few moments earlier a workman would have been standing there and the back of his legs would have been cut. But not only that, had the explosion happened a few moments earlier – while I had my face over the pot my face would have been burnt with hot caramel. As it was there was caramel all over our little one room apartment -up the walls and across the ceiling. So the moral of the story – never let your caramel boil dry!!
But these days it is much easier! Thanks to Nestles we can now buy caramel condensed milk – they boil it for us and sell it to us nice and packaged on the shelf! Which makes making these caramel tarts not only one of our family traditions but super simple so they have become my go-to when we need to take a plate to Christmas parties.
One other change from my grandmother’s days is that I no longer make tarts – with crisp shortbread shells – instead I use gingersnap biscuits – also bought from the store! These little tartlets are super easy!
All you need to make these delicious caramel tartlets:
a tartlet tin (tartlet tins are a very shallow scoop)
an icecream scoop
a packet (or 2) of Gingernut biscuits (I find the original hold their shape a bit better)
a can Caramel
thickened cream (I like using the dollop cream as it holds its shape and I don’t have to whip it – but Grandma always used whipped cream)
Place the gingernuts face-down in the tartlet tray. If your gingernuts have sugar dusting on them make sure the sugared side is facing upwards as it sticks
Place in moderate (180*) oven for 4minutes (each oven I do these in this differs – you want the gingernuts to soften but not brown, so keep an eye on this when doing it for the first time.)
When you pull them out of the oven, take the icecream scoop and press down into the tartlet tray so that you create a little tartlet shell out of your flat biscuit. Once you have shaped them all they’ll be hard again. Take them out of the tray and let them cool on a cake rack
It is best to make one tartlet tray at a time so you can keep up with the icecream scoop before they go hard.
I also like to keep one tartlet empty as it gives me somewhere to hold the hot tray! (learnt from experience!!)
When you are ready to serve you take a teaspoon of caramel and place it in the tartlet shell, and then top with a teaspoon of thick cream. Voila! ready to go.
You can see how simple they are – and they are delish! I like them after the caramel has been sitting for a while cause the gingernut goes a little softer. Which is why you don’t assemble these until you are ready to serve – I keep all the shells in an airtight container and use them as we need them.
Just one request: if you are going to the same Christmas party as I am – don’t bring these along, cause this is what will be on my plate!!