Scandinavian

My Icelandic Chocolate-Caramel Tart Is a Summer Blueberry Dream

August  6, 2018

Having been away from Iceland (where I was born and raised) for 17 years, there are certain things I miss. Like cold black volcano beaches, midnight sun during the summer months, and dancing northern lights in the winter. Nostalgically, I miss the food, the flavors and textures of simple ingredients grown on the heath and collected by locals in the fall. Most of all, I miss my amma ("grandmother" in Icelandic)’s baking. She would effortlessly whip up a cake or a tower of crepes, and her freezer was always stocked with home-baked goods for unexpected guests and my munch-hungry grandpa.

Photo by Page Street Publishing

When writing and creating the recipes for my book, From the North: A Simple and Modern Approach to Authentic Nordic Cooking, I looked back at my heritage and where I'm from, and Iceland seemed to pull me into the kitchen with a creative fervor. I felt empowered to take the flavors that I knew so well and push them to new heights.

So when making this tangy toffee tart, I was thinking of my amma’s caramel cake, but wanted the caramel to be thicker and more dulce de leche–like. Instead of using evaporated milk, I caramelized skyr—the Icelandic power yogurt that's taken the world by storm in recent years. Even though Icelanders have been eating it for over 1,100 years, it wasn't until the mid-2000s when tourism started to bloom on the island and visitors discovered this protein-rich, low-fat gold.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Skyr is such a versatile yogurt (though it’s actually a closer cousin of cheese) and can be used in a hundred different ways. Traditionally it's eaten with a splash of heavy cream and sometimes fresh berries. Excellent as a low-fat dessert, skyr has a very low sugar content as well, and its tangy flavor and thick texture make it an ideal ingredient for this caramel filling.

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The beauty of this caramel is that it has a lovely sour taste due to the skyr, which brings freshness to something that would otherwise be too sweet. There's a tiny bit of salt in there too, which adds depth. And pouring all of this into a buttery chocolate tart shell makes it a thousand times better.

Being berry season now—and since nothing is prettier than a berry-topped dessert—I've used both fresh and freeze-dried blueberries here. Blueberries are perfectly balanced, never too sweet nor too sour, always fresh. Plus, I love how they pop in your mouth. My go-to berry for desserts is usually blueberry, or bilberry if I can get it.

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Top Comment:
“Iceland was such a beautiful place to visit. Loved the food too! I will have to try this tart. Do you go back to visit?”
— PHIL
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If my amma were alive, she'd probably tell me that caramelizing skyr for a tart is a waste of time and that I could have taken an easier route. And that skyr is best eaten plain with a splash of heavy cream and blueberries. But I also think that she, as a baker, would have come around eventually, tried it herself, and told all her friends how genius it is to take that classic combination and refashion it into a more modern application. I think she would've been proud of my new Nordic chocolate tart.

This recipe comes from my book From the North and is reprinted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co., 2018.

12 Comments

susan L. August 21, 2018
I made this two days ago and followed the recipe exactly (ingredients and method) and the filling never set up. I continued cooking it for over an hour (it was quite pale until then). I kept it in the fridge overnight and still ended up with caramel soup, tasty, but not the intention. I might add that I'm far from a novice baker. Any clues as to what went wrong?
 
LULULAND August 12, 2018
I am wondering if plain Greek yogurt might be a good substitute? My stores don't carry Skyr.
 
Author Comment
Katrín B. August 12, 2018
I have never tried it, but I believe that would work. You might get slightly different flavor but it is definitely worth the try. Keep me posted if you decide to go ahead and experiment!
 
LULULAND August 12, 2018
Thanks I will!
 
Martha F. August 8, 2018
Thanks for the replies.<br />
 
Martha F. August 7, 2018
I live in the hinter lands of upstate NY. Where might I find skyr or is there something I might use as a close substitute?
 
PHIL August 7, 2018
Whole Foods carries it , probably price chopper or Wegmans
 
Eric K. August 7, 2018
Siggi's is a popular brand; you can probably find that at most grocery stores these days.
 
Author Comment
Katrín B. August 8, 2018
You can find different Skyr brands in all major grocery stores in the state of New York. Icelandic Provisions is my favorite :)
 
PHIL August 7, 2018
Iceland was such a beautiful place to visit. Loved the food too! I will have to try this tart. Do you go back to visit?
 
Eric K. August 7, 2018
Ditto this question, Katrin.
 
Author Comment
Katrín B. August 8, 2018
Hi Phil, great to hear from you. Yes, I do go back and visit. My whole family is still there, both in the North where I grew up and some in Reykjavik. I try to go at least once a year. And as a matter of fact, when writing my book From The North I went home and shot part of it in my moms kitchen.