Some months, I wait anxiously for the day to post the Daring Baker challenge. And then other months, like this one, I wake up one morning only to find that the month is almost gone and the Daring Baker challenge is about to escape me.
My friends, it has been a busy and frenzied month to say the least.
Luckily, however, things have calmed down just in time to celebrate another Daring Baker challenge. And this time around, we’re getting all tarted up!
The hosts for this month’s challenge are the lovely Veronica of Veronica’s Test Kitchen and Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen. They took pity on our Daring Baker souls and decided to choose a challenge recipe that didn’t feature forty steps and didn’t require that we start baking a week in advance.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved all the challenges up until now, but they have been quite involved. It was more than pleasant to settle down to baking a most elegant and simple Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart.
As with most tarts, this one begins with a great tart base. The tart pastry consists of butter, icing sugar, ground hazelnuts, cinnamon, eggs, cake flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. I usually make crusts by hand but I decided to try this one in the bowl of the stand mixer and it worked out very well.
After creaming the butter, sugar, ground hazelnuts and cinnamon together, I added the eggs and then the dry ingredients. I gathered the dough into a ball and refrigerated it for eight hours (the recipe instructs you to refrigerate overnight but I made the dough in the morning and baked the tart late in the day).
When it came time to roll out the tart dough, I ran into a few problems in that the pastry cracked quite a bit. It seemed a bit on the dry side. However, after a bit of work I managed to line all my tart pans with the lovely cinnamon-scented dough. The recipe yields quite a bit of pastry so I was able to make a 9-inch tart and six 4-inch tarts.
I blind baked the tart shells (baked them with parchment paper filled with dried beans) for 15 minutes before removing them from the oven while I made the caramel filling.
Usually when I make caramel I begin with a sugar and water mixture. This particular recipe calls for a dry caramel, which means that you simply put sugar into a pot and slowly melt it until it turns the desired colour. I’d never made caramel this way before and was a bit worried as caramel can be tricky.
However, it worked out very well. I had to really watch it as it would have been quite easy to burn the caramel. As soon as it reached the desired colour, I added heavy cream and butter and set it aside to cool a bit. While it cooled, I mixed together eggs and flour, which I then added to the caramel mixture. This was poured into the waiting tart shells. I then put the tarts back into the oven for another 15 minutes.
By this time, the tart shells were a lovely golden colour and the caramel filling was firm. I could have easily dug in at this point but the tarts weren’t quite finished.
After the tarts were completely cooled, I put together the final layer which was a milk chocolate mousse. I whipped heavy cream and poured in melted milk chocolate. I spread the mixture over the tops of all the tarts and then refrigerated them for several hours.
Wanting to decorate my tarts simply yet elegantly, I drizzled the tops with melted white chocolate and made some chocolate curls with some leftover milk chocolate.
Finally, it was time to try one.
The first sensation I experienced when I sampled the tart was the deep flavour of cinnamon against the lighter, sweeter flavour of the chocolate. At first I didn’t notice the caramel but after a few chews, the caramel texture came through. Combined with the lightness of the mousse topping, it was a very interesting flavour experience. The tart was spicy and cool all at the same time.
I decided to bring the tarts to work for my coworkers and judging by how quickly they were gobbled up, I knew they were a great success.
I enjoyed making a layered tart using caramel having never made a tart like this before. It was a straightforward recipe and the results were more than worth it. I would like to thank Veronica and Elle for choosing such a classy recipe!
To see what all the other Daring Bakers did with their tarts, please check The Daring Bakers’ Blogroll over the next day or so!