When you join the Daring Bakers there's always great anticipation at the beginning of each month. That's when we discover the recipe chosen by that month's host. Speculating to myself about possible choices, I thought a tart would be nice. So, I was quite happy to see this month's challenge, devised by our fabulous hosts, Veron at Veronica's Test Kitchen and Patricia at Technicolor Kitchen, was Eric Kayser’s Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart. I'm a big caramel fan, and looked forward to making the tart. But, this was a month full of chaos and stress, and I kept procrastinating. At one point, I decided to skip the whole thing. Then one Daring Baker said her effort tasted like a Heath Bar. Well, that did it. I was hooked. With only two days left until the deadline, I had to make the darn thing. Luckily, it was sinfully delicious--and did taste like an over the top Heath Bar. And it wasn't hideously difficult to make. As for my decoration....... it was just like my month. Chaotic. When I have a pile of pulverized caramel shards in front of me, I must fling them with abandon.
To begin with, my task was made difficult by the fact that I'm rehabbing six baby squirrels, which required my total attention at regular intervals of every two hours all day long. I would rush into the "nursery" and prepare and feed formula to the incredibly self centered balls of cuteness, clean and tuck them into their beds, wash their bedding, etc. Then I would wash my hands and arms like a surgeon and rush to the kitchen to work on the tart. Things got a tad confusing for me. Fortunately, I didn't put baby formula in the tart or feed chocolate to the squirrels. I made the chocolate shortbread dough the night before, but couldn't find my rolling pin. So, I wound up using my fingers to press the dough into the tart and tartlet pans. The dough isn't the typical short crust pastry. It was very easy to make in my food processor.
The next task was to make the caramel layer, which required making caramel the "dry" way. Major hate! I was annoyed, because it took quite a bit of time. The dry method entails waiting for sugar to melt over medium heat, with no liquid added to speed things along. Frankly, I was most successful making caramel this way, but I hated it anyway. Once it was done, I added cream, eggs and flour to make a custard, which was then poured into the baked tart shells.
Frankly, this was a bit perplexing. The small tartlets, cooked perfectly. But, the large tart, which I baked 15 minutes, exactly as the recipe stated, was still very liquid and runny. But, other Daring Bakers had the same experience and said it would firm up after it went in the fridge. That was fine with me, because I had squirrels to feed and clothes to wash.
I then made the chocolate mousse, and learned that the brand of chocolate I bought was deceptively labeled. LIARS! They said it weighed 255 grams. The recipe called for 250 grams and the package actually weighed 233 grams. Swine!
The mousse is quite simple, just melted chocolate and whipped cream combined together and slathered on top of the tarts. I topped them with crushed caramel and put the tarts into the fridge, for the one hour waiting period specified in the recipe.
I enjoyed the taste of the tart a great deal. It's quite rich and does taste like a Heath Bar to me. While making it, I wondered if I would like the crust, because it had a good bit of cinnamon in it. To my surprise, I liked it very much. I must caution people to start with a small serving, or you could be overwhelmed. Thank you Patricia and Veron, I enjoyed this tart.
Now, if you want to see marvelous versions of this recipe, you must go to the The Daring Baker's Blogroll and spend some time looking at the efforts of the other members. We have some very talented people in our group and they will amaze you. You will also learn the story of how The Daring Bakers was created by Ivonne and Lis.
If you'd like to make this yourself, here is the recipe.
Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
(Eric Kayser, Savory and Sweet Tarts)
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration time: 1 hour
One 9-inch(24-cm) square pan; 1 10-inch (26-cm) round baking pan
½ lb (250 g) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe below)
1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 g) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche
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 until it turns a golden caramel color. 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.
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.
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.
8. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.
To decorate: 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.
Chocolate Shortbread Pastry
Preparation time: 10 minutes
To make 3 tarts, 9 ½ inches (24 cm) square
or 10 inches (26 cm round)
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.