Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Daring Bakers Challenge #9 - Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart
Caramel is not a favourite flavour of mine but it is a great pairing with chocolate. Milk chocolate was specified for this recipe and I did use it but for my taste I think that dark chocolate would have worked better. It probably didn't help my tart that in the interests of frugality I used an elderly, hollow Easter bunny that was sitting in my pantry and some regular chocolate melts rather than buying excellent quality chocolate. No-one else noticed but I could tell.
This challenge was actually a breeze and although I had a few moments where I wondered if I was doing the right thing I didn’t have too many problems.
When I rolled out my tart pastry I placed it between two silicon baking sheets and that worked really well for me; I think every kitchen should have a pair. Flavourwise I felt the pastry was a little delicate but that’s not really a bad thing with the richness of the caramel and the chocolate mousse. The texture was very tender again a good thing because there’s nothing worse than a tough crust that flies across the room when you cut into it.
I had never made caramel using the dry technique before and had no idea what I was doing. It was one of those "feel the fear and do it anyway" experiences. Essentially you just heat up your pan of sugar over a low to medium heat until it melts. It’s like magic to watch. I stirred my first batch part way through and it crystalised a bit but soon incorporated into the melted stuff. The worst part was when I added the cream and ended up with a huge lump of like goo that looked like dinosaur snot! I decided that I wasn’t going to waste my ingredients and effort and wondered what would happen if I just continued to beat the bejeebers out of it over a low heat. Miraculously the cream incorporated with the sugar and caramel was born.
After such a success with the first batch of caramel I was keen to make more for the Caramel Fragments. I bashed them with a rolling pin between my wonderful silicon sheets and have yet to find the two pieces that bounced off the bench into the living room. No doubt I’ll find a sticky piece of something covered in cat fluff if I look hard enough.
Daring Bakers Challenge #9: August 2007 – Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
Source: Eric Kayser's Sweet and Savory Tarts
Hosts: Veron of Veronica's Test Kitchen and Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen)
Chocolate Shortbread Pastry
Note: The Chocolate Shortbread pastry can make 3 tart shells.
Preparation time: 10 minutes + overnight refridgeration
1 cup (250g ) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (50 g) ground hazelnuts
2 level teaspoons (5 g) ground cinnamon
4 ½ cups (400 g) cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder
A day ahead
1. In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter.
2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon, and mix together
3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly
4. Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and mix well.
5. Form a ball with the dough, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.
Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration time: 1 hour
½ lb (250 g) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe above)
1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 g) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche - I used regular cream
¼ cup (50 g) butter
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 ½ tablespoons (15 g) flour
1 ¼ cups (300 g) whipping cream
½ lb (250 g) milk chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).
2. Line the baking pan with the chocolate shortbread pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes.
3. In a saucepan, caramelize 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar using the dry method (just heat in a heavy bottom pot on a low-med heat until it melts) until it turns a golden caramel color (like golden or maple syrup). Incorporate the heavy cream or crème fraiche and then add butter. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.
4. In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs with the extra egg yolk, then incorporate the flour (I used a whisk to reduce the risk of lumps but ended up running the egg/flour mixture through a sieve as suggested by some helpful Daring Bakers).
5. Pour this into the cream-caramel mixture and mix thoroughly
6. Spread it out in the tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. I baked mine a little longer, about 10 mins more – the caramel should feel “jiggly” to touch.
7. Prepare the milk chocolate mousse: beat the whipping cream until stiff. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie, and fold it gently into the whipped cream. Make sure the chocolate isn’t hot hot or the cream will melt - ask me how I know!
8. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.
Melt ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar in a saucepan until it reaches an amber color
Pour it onto waxed paper laid out on a flat surface
Leave to cool
Break it into small fragments and stick them lightly into the top of the tart. If there's a next time I'd try for long shards rather than chunks.
(in real life the caramel isn't as red as it looks in the photo - the colours are a wee bit off)
A big thank you to Veronica and Patricia for an interesting challenge. It was great fun to do and very well recieved by my co-workers who enjoyed my efforts.