Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Daring Baker Derring-Do - the Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart Edition

chocolate caramel tart 013
One of the things that I have loved most about joining the Daring Bakers is that it has given me a fantastic excuse (and the motivation) to buy fun baking supplies that I've been wanting and/or needing for a long time. This month, given the challenge of a Chocolate Caramel Tart - I had a ready excuse to duck into Williams Sonoma and purchase some fluted tart pans and a jar of ceramic pie weights. Pies and tarts are not something I make often. Actually, never is more like it - but that's mostly because I don't have much experience. That's what puts the "Daring" in Daring Bakers though -making something you might not otherwise. Now that I have the supplies - you just might see more tarts coming this way.

This particular tart is a three layer confection, with a shortbread crust, a layer of caramel, and a top layer of milk chocolate mousse. The recipe, from Eric Kayser's "Sweet and Savory Tarts," is very bare bones, and requires a little creativity and improvisation in order to make it work - at least it did in my case. Given that our hostesses acknowledged the need to "read between the lines" hopefully my few little liberties won't be construed as disobedience.
chocolate caramel tart 007
First off, we were allowed to modify the crust by leaving out the cinnamon - I used less (a lot less) in order to just give it a little flavor, since many said it was overpowering. I also went ahead and used ground almonds instead of hazelnuts, A) because I had them on hand and did not have any hazelnuts, and B) because I was fairly sure the almonds would compliment the cinnamon better than hazelnuts. The almonds seemed to work well, though they didn't provide much flavor. I think a little extract - either vanilla or almond - would have helped here, along with a dash of salt and possibly a little more sugar.

I did the whole thing in one marathon session - so instead of chilling the crust overnight as the recipe suggested - I divided it and flattened each piece into a disk - then threw them in the fridge for an hour or so. They were both plenty chilled for rolling at that point, so I rolled them out and lined the pans and then put them in the freezer to chill thoroughly before baking. I did the bottoms only, since I had heard that the crust tends to puff. I lined the crusts with foil and my brand new pie weights and baked for 15 minutes as suggested. I thought the crust was a bit dry and crumbly, and probably not as sweet as it could have been - but this may have been intentional, since the top two layers are so intensely sweet and rich.

When I heated the sugar for the caramel, I couldn't resist the temptation to stir it up a bit as it started to melt. Unfortunately, even after adding the cream and butter, I still had some clumps - but I strained the mixture into the beaten eggs and flour - leaving the remaining pieces behind. The recipe didn't specify to temper the eggs into the caramel, but I did it anyway. Here it is ready to pour into the shell.
chocolate caramel tart 009
I baked the caramel until it set - which took a few minutes longer than the 15 minutes specified. It looked a little strange at first, but it set up nicely when it was cooled. I used about 1/3 creme fraiche and the rest cream. The caramel had really good flavor - it was probably my favorite part of the recipe.
chocolate caramel tart 010
I was worried about using milk chocolate for the mousse - but I discovered that there is a huge difference in flavor between the different brands. Scharffenberger's 41% Milk Chocolate is far and away better than the other brands, including Valrhona, even though their cocoa contents are very similar. I wound up using a little less cream than called for because I ran out after making the caramel - but I still had plenty of mousse for my two tarts.

Milk chocolate is more fragile than dark, so I melted it over the double boiler and allowed it to cool before folding in the very thoroughly chilled whipped cream. I also cheated a bit here, and added some bloomed and melted gelatin (one envelope or 2.5 tsp) so that the mousse would hold up a bit better, since it's been incredibly hot here lately. It worked really well - at room temperature the mousse had just the right texture but didn't melt. The tart shell also came right off the chilled filling - since it's a bit flexible I just sort of pulled it back. I didn't do the dry caramel decorations. I had already stayed up till 2 AM to finish this project, and simply didn't have the energy for more molten sugar. I sprinkled the tart wth a few toasted almond slivers and called it a day. The smaller oblong one was a huge hit at work yesterday, and I'm going to freeze the square one and serve it at a party in a couple of weeks - I may do the caramel decorations then, if I have time.

If you're interested in giving it a try, check Veronica's or Patricia's blogs for the recipe, and be sure to check out the creations of the other Daring Bakers!


pink_sil

33 comments:

  1. Oh you have a square tart pan, so jealous. I want one but have no place to put it! :(
    Beautiful job on the tart.

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  2. Beautiful tart! the layers are simply great :)

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  3. That's a beautiful tart pan - very envious! Smart idea to use toasted almonds on top!

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  4. uhoh these darned Daring Bakers; they force you to buy equipment! tsk, tsk!
    great tart pan, great tart!

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  5. That's a really lovely tart...and that pan!!!

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  6. I've been quite good and been holding off on big buys. But that tart pan looks too good to resist. The tart itself looks amazing! Great job!

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  7. Ah, yes! Any excuse to buy a new tart pan! I love how distinctive your layers look. Well done!

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  8. Gorgeous tart Alice! I agree with you that the best part of this is the caramel layer. I wish I used Scharffenbergers 41% , it would have been a lot better I think for my milk chocolate layer.

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  9. I love my square tart pan and pie weights, too, and do believe I bought mine at WS when it first opened in our town. I had to laugh when I read your comment about the cinnamon, because I found myself wondering whether I'd even remembered that this was a crust ingredient. Panic! No matter. It's all good.

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  10. I want a square tart pan too...your tart is beautiful!

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  11. I think the result is wonderful, I want a tart pan like yours! :)

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  12. I just got a rectangular pan - now you have me wanting a square one! Lovely job!

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  13. Now I want a square pan! Love it! Very sophisticated!

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  14. beautiful tart and I agree with everyone else - beautiful tart pan! I want one! =)

    I agree too on the different tastes of different brand of milk chocolate - I also used a milk chocolate that was on the dark side and it was quite nice.

    Nice job =)

    xoxo

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  15. Great write up! Lovely tart and tin. I really must refrain from buying any more baking goods. It's not like I have a bakery!

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  16. I love your new tart pan! Very nice!

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  17. There you go getting all fancy on us with your new tart pan. Can you tell I'm envious??

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  18. Lovely tart...it looks like the best kind of candy bar. The square shape is very elegant. Let us know how it does after being frozen.

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  19. Great job on the tart! I love my square and rectangular pans but I don't use them enough. I froze some pieces monday night and it was a real cool treat tonight!

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  20. I also love the square. Any excuse to go to Williams Sonoma is a great day.

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  21. Interesting use of gelatin in the mousse. I'd love to do experiments to see how they compare; it probably would have kept my cream from deflating!

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  22. Doesnt that tart just look wonderful!! And I want a square tart pan too! The mousse looks fabulous I must say. Well done indeed

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  23. Alice, I so wish I had replaced the hazelnuts by almonds. And your square tart pan...

    Hmmm, there you go I'm somewhat jealous ;)

    - fanny

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  24. I'm with everyone else - I love your new square tart pan!
    Great work, btw.

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  25. Beautiful job on the tart! Great almond decor :D. I also used this as an excuse to get a tart pan and found a lovely square one at Williams Sonoma as well.

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  26. That tart pan is the bomb! I wish I didn't wait so long to chill the dough. I think I will do it your way next time. Looks beautiful!

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  27. I almost purchased a square tart pan too in my tart pan buying frenzy. Your tart looks great, I love the rich color of your caramel.

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  28. You square tart is lovely.
    Read between the lines is about right. And fill in the blanks!

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  29. Your tart looks so yummy. I love your square tart tin too. Wish I had thought of using a higher cocoa content milk choc. Yum

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  30. Love that square pan. Your tart looks great. I used the Valhrona milk chocolate but I do prefer SB for dark chocolate. I'll use the SB milk next time. Wendy

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  31. I love the square tart!

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  32. Heh... I'm glad I'm not the only one whose noticed that her Daring Baker ID card and her Williams Sonoma credit card seem to be attached. :)

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  33. You got to love a recipe that "forces" you to buy a new pan and other goodies from William and Sonoma!

    Lovely tart!

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