Wednesday, 29 August 2007

milk chocolate and caramel tart – the Daring Bakers’ August challenge

From the moment I read the recipe Veronica and Patricia chose for this month’s DB challenge, I knew that this tart and I would make very good friends. Because, what’s not to like: chocolate hazelnut crust! Caramel! Chocolate cream! Not a drop of food colouring or a grain of gelatine in sight, just the bare minimum of no-nonsense instructions, and a recipe which didn’t generate leftovers enough to feed a small army. Apart from the crust that is, which made enough for three tarts, but the recipe duly mentions that and anyways it would be so easy to halve quantities for the crust recipe so it doesn’t count. Not that I halved the quantities, I just froze the leftovers so I can use them again in a few weeks or so. I originally planned to bake this tart when my family came to visit, but I was so frantically cleaning prior to their arrival I didn’t have enough time left to bake something as well. My parents, aunt and cousin didn’t get to sample this heavenly tart, but S’s and my work colleagues did. And they liked it. A lot.
Now, I may have purposefully ‘forgotten’ (ahem) to put cinnamon in the crust, but only because other Daring Bakers found it overwhelming and distracting from the chocolate. Which, in my book, is never a good thing. Nothing should ever distract from chocolate. Ever. I do like cinnamon, but I wasn’t convinced it would work in this tart and I was determined to love this tart (pease don’t take away my DB badge, pretty please!). I also had to substitute the ground hazelnuts with almonds, as I couldn’t find hazelnuts of the ground variety anywhere - I even went to the new ginormous Wholefoods in Kensington High Street. Also I don’t own any snazzy devices that could grind hazelnuts for me and I didn’t think my little hand held mixer would be up to this job. So almonds it was. I made the crust entirely without the aid of any electric appliances, partly because the butter was very soft anyway and partly because I made it at 11pm at night and didn’t want to wake the neighbours. The next day I rolled it quite thinly, as other DBs had experienced the crust rising exponentially. Just to make sure I stabbed it furiously with a fork and poured all my baking beans on top of it as well. I used a square, loose-bottomed tin and had no problems whatsoever rolling the dough over the square, unlike some other DBs who ended up with a brittle greasy dough, that needed to be patched onto the baking tin.
Making the caramel turned out to be really easy as well. I have heard quite a few horror stories involving caramel (massive splashing and horrible burns on forearms), so I was perhaps a bit too careful, but it all worked out nicely. Melting sugar I had done before, so I wasn’t afraid of that, but I made sure the heat was very low nonetheless. Of course the sugar seized up when I added the cream, but I continued to stir it over a low heat and it all came together nicely. I found it needed a bit longer in the oven than the suggested 15 minutes – after 15 minutes the edges had set but the centre was still liquid. Oh, and because I didn’t sculpt any edges on my crust and the crust shrank ever so slightly away from the edges of the tin during baking, the caramel of course dripped through the tin and onto the bottom of my oven, causing a terrible burnt smell which made me panic I had completely messed it up. But luckily I hadn’t, the caramel set beautifully and all I had left to do was whip up a chocolate mousse.

For the chocolate mousse, which was incredibly easy to make (and which I actually prefer to the one made with egg whites), I used a brand of fairtrade chocolate I only recently discovered: Divine milk chocolate with coffee. Since it was milk chocolate, and also since in my world chocolate, nuts and coffee are like a holy trinity, I figured I would not be breaking any DB rules. Plus I just knew this chocolate would be perfect for my tart.

Once the entire tart was finished, set and refrigerated, I cut it into rectangular individual servings and decorated the top with a single hazelnut and a shard of vanilla salt. Originally I had wanted to cover the hazelnuts in edible gold leaf, but I couldn’t find any in the shops and didn’t have enough time to order it online. But I was determined to have an elegant pastry, and even though the hazelnut was pretty enough by itself, the vanilla salt added a little extra oomph to the tart. Nut and salt got along wonderfully with each other and they lived happily ever after. No, not really, because the tart was a huge hit with everyone who tasted it and it didn’t survive very long at all. But it made all the people who ate it happy. And of course that’s the sole purpose of tarts in life.
Check out all the other Daring Bakers’ efforts here and the recipe here.

49 comments:

Veron said...

Your tarts are gorgeous, itt looks so professionally done! Such perfect layers! Glad you enjoyed the challenge.

Baking Soda said...

Wow! Picture perfect tarts. Stunning!
When Tanna and Sue were in London in July we visited Whole Foods... loved it, and I wear my Whole Foods jute bag with pride!

Deborah said...

Your tart looks wonderful - and it's so good to hear that it was such a hit!

Anita said...

So lovely Inne! You did a beautiful job with them!

kellypea said...

Oh my, these little squares are completely beautiful. I had checked a bit too early today, so may have missed you! I, too, considered covering the hazelnuts in chocolate, but got lazy in the end.

Wow.

Beatrice said...

What a lovely way to present this wonderful tart. I LOVE it!

Bea
La Tartine Gourmande
http://www.latartinegourmande.com/

slush said...

You tart looks perfect, and I love the individual servings with a hazelnut on top. SOOO CUTE! Great job! xo

Anh said...

Inne, we had the same thought on cinnamon and chocolate!!!! I don't want spices to overpower my chocolate either! Your tart looks veyr pretty.

Connie said...

oh, great use of the hazelnuts... I think I'll do the same! Your tart looks like a beautiful work of art. And good job 'forgetting' the cinnamon

Mary said...

So pretty. I wish mine looked more like yours. It's so sleek and elegant!

creampuff said...

Inne,

You and the tart were VERY VERY VERY good friends. Your tart is like a piece of artwork. BEAUTIFUL!

Elle said...

Making people happy IS the purpose of tarts in life...such a perfect ending to a great post. I think the rectangles with the single hazelnut and salt shard are very elegant and it sounds like you found the recipe fairly easy to do. Lovely post!

wmpe said...

Your bars are perfect and look delicious. Your photos are lovely. Wendy

Brilynn said...

Very elegant!

Dharm said...

Wow! Your slices look like something out of a cake shop. I want some now!!! Great Job Inne

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Very beautiful. It does indeed look like something you'd see in a little select cake shop

Belinda said...

I love the elegance of your tart slices...they look so perfect, and the whole hazelnut on each slice makes for a super snazzy presentation. I love it! :-)

Sara said...

Absolutely beautiful. Love the hazelnuts too.

marias23 said...

Gosh, your tart looks so polished and professional! I also like the additiona of the hazelnut on top of each slice, very elegant.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Inne, these are wonderful! I love how sophisticated you made the whole thing look.

Beautiful and I'm also glad to know you liked it!

Tartelette said...

Perfect bakery worthy looking tart slices! Beautiful job! I hear you on the mousse, this one was too dairy for me.

Jenny said...

Lovely job. I would love to see the gold leaf idea carried out sometime, maybe with another dessert?

Peabody said...

The hazelnut on top is a great touch. Well done.

Lis said...

Your slices are picture perfect! What a lovely job you did =)

xoxo

steph- whisk/spoon said...

they are beautiful, with perfect layers! and very manageable portion sizes, too. :)

the vanilla salt is intriguing...did you make that yourself?

Aoife said...

Such neat layers! And vanilla salt sounds intriguing -- what is it and how do I make it?

Amy said...

Beautiful! I love the little hazelnuts on top. I'm glad S and your colleagues enjoyed the tart.

Chelsea said...

What an elegant little tart! I'm amazed at how different they all look. Yours is gorgeous!

KJ said...

Your tarts are so elegant and lovely. Every month I'm amazed at all the wonderful ideas for presentation that people come up with. There are so many talented DBs.

ChichaJo said...

Your tarts are perfect! They look like they stepped out of the pages of a elegant food magazine :)

Quellia said...

I don't know why making the tart square makes such a difference but it seems to be so much more elegant than a round! Your tart looks amazing!

Kelly-Jane said...

Wonderful tarts, and I agree your hazelnuts on top look beautiful :)

Anne said...

They are absolutely perfect and very unique indeed! They are a stand out :)

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Your tart is absolutely gorgeous. Very nice layers and beautiful presentation. Nice! :D

Leslie said...

Beautiful tart! How the heck did you get your mousse so smooth? Inquiring minds want to know..... :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

The sole purpose of a tart, how perfect! Yes, that is so true. And your tart looks like it would make anyone happy happy!
So that ginormous WholeFoods in Kensington didn't have ground hazelnuts . . . sheesh . . . it is a fun store. Maybe dangerous on the wallet but fun.
Really your tart is a thing of beauty.

Erik said...

Those look quite tantelizing - good work.

I like your comment on Chocolate, nuts and coffee - great trio indeed.

I just participated in my first food event, the SHF#34, which I needed ground Hazelnuts for some scones. I could have purchased ground Hazelnuts locally - Hazelnuts are grown here, so they are fairly easy to find. However, I prefer to toast my own and grind them myself - how? A simple electric coffee grinder does a very nice and quick job - plus it's a cheap gadget.

Inne said...

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments, I had a lot of fun making this tart. Elegant, sophisticated and out of a cake shop is what I was aiming for - usually my sweets taste ok but don't look particularly pretty.

Steph and Aoife, I bought the vanilla salt at Whole Foods; it is a Welsh brand (Anglesey Sea Salt Company) of pure sea salt with Taha'a vanilla. They have a website: www.seasalt.co.uk

Leslie, couldn't tell you how I got the chocolate mousse so smooth. I think making chocolate mousse must be part of my genetic makeup, I do it without thinking. I just whipped the cream, melted the chocolate in the microwave, waited until it had cooled a bit, folded it into the cream, poured it over the tart and dunked the whole lot into the fridge.

Erik, thanks for the tip on how to grind hazelnuts. I don't own a coffee grinder either, but I might just have to go and buy one :)

SimplePleasures said...

that is a very chic looking tart! Simple yet chic! try the crust with cinnamon, for me it makes the tart unique, has its character and didn't find it overwhelming at all :)

Tara said...

Your tart looks very elegant indeed. What a wonderful job you did, congratulations :)

Barbara said...

Beautifully presented tart Inne. I like the square shape.

Andreea said...

great to discover your blog

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

It looks great! They are perfect in fact! Wonderful!

the pastry princess said...

such perfect layers and pretty tarts! glad it was so enjoyable!

Meeta said...

These are totally gorgeous looking tarts pieces. It was really delish wasn't it? Nice job!

Rose said...

I love that You used square tin. It makes the tart looks so beautiful when cut. And am I reading right? you used milk chocolate coffee chocolate? Ok, now I so want your tart. No wonder your S and co-workers loved it. What not to love about such a beauty. BTW, I love your writing style. Have a nice day Inne.

Andrea said...

I love the presentation of your tart! The individual rectangular slices look so elegant!

Dolores said...

I love the sharp clean lines your tart slices present. These bite-sized goodies would fit right in a commercial bakery display case.

breadchick said...

Your tart slices are absolutely adorable!! Great job this month!!!