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
2 eggs
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.

Caramel Fragments

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.


Dharm said...

I think you were the first to post Morven! Well done - it looks great! :)

Leslie said...

OMG - hHAHAHAHHA. The dinosaur snot comment had me howling. Love it!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Deb R said...

That looks really good! (I'm with you though on thinking I'd probably prefer a dark chocolate layer rather than milk chocolate.) The fragments on top are very pretty!

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

That looks so gooey and chewy, yum! Well done. Nice write up too.

Dolores said...

Dinosaur snot! I LOVE it! And what an ingenious use of leftover easter bunnies. I'm coming to you for advice in January when I'm trying to dispense with candy canes...

Anne said...

Nice post and nice tart! well done :)

Barbara said...

That looks great Morven. Quite different to mine. (Glad you enjoyed the Moroccon Muffins.)

Peabody said...

I should have made the shards just so I could smash something with a rolling pin.
Well done.

Baking Soda said...

Looking good! Love the way your caramel layer looks and the smoothness of the choc.cream, yum!

Mary said...

Heehee, poor chocolate bunny!

Anne said...

That looks lovely - great job! :)

KJ said...

I'm glad that the elderly easter bunny came to a good end. LOL.

Your tart looks delicious.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Marve, I think you did a fantastic job - your tart looks so beautiful!

I'm glad you put the easter bunny to such good use. ;)

veron said...

Morven , that's one delicious tart. I like the way your mousse is oozing down the caramel layer. Makes me just want to get a spoon and dig in,

kellypea said...

"Feel the fear and do it anyway..." I love it! Congrats on your finished tart -- and lovely caramel layer, by the way...

Deborah said...

Gorgeous!! Your chocolate mousse looks so good!

Lis said...

OMG that mousse has me drooling! And I loved the dinosaur snot! Very appealing. har!

You just keep getting better and better in the kitchen - a true Daring Baker!

Now where's the recipe for that bread pudding? :D


Anita said...

Nice tart! I'm glad to hear that someone else loves the 2 Silpat method for rolling out dough - how did we get along without them?

Brilynn said...

I love my silicon mats too, they're deifnitely essential!

barbie2be said...


Andrea said...

Dinosaur snot!!!!!!!!!! hahahahahahaha

Great write up! And I also use silicone mats for rolling out stuff. Can't live without em now.

Elle said...

Truly daring, fear and all, and a truly gorgeous tart...I want some of the mousse it looks so yummy!

Ivonne said...

Love the way you decorated the tart, Morven! Well done!

Aoife said...

Nice job with the caramel! It's always tricky when you have nothing to go on; way to follow your instincts!

Tartelette said...

Beautiful job! Well done on the caramel. Great decoration too!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Having two boys the dinosaur snot description really appealed and made me giggle. Glad your colleagues enjoyed your efforts. It looked great!

Quellia said...

Dinosaur snot? That's what was in my caramel and cream pan? Wow! I didn't now!
Great work Morven! You are actually who reminded me were were posting on the 29th, not the 30.

Jenny said...

Hee hee - I think this should officially be renamed Easter Bunny Tart.

Inne said...

Such a perfect-looking tart Morven. I had the same problem with my caramel clumping up, but continuous stirring over low heat solved that perfectly.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

"feel the fear and do it anyway"
I love that!
You got a really gorgeous tart.

Amy said...

Lol dinosaur snot! You did a wonderful job!

Katie said...

That looks yummy. Your descriptions made me laugh :)

Chris said...

Great tart. The post, too!

wmpe said...

Thank-you for the two silpat rolling tip. I made rolling the dough a breeze. Your tart looks great. Wendy