Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Daring Bakers: Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

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I'm a Daring Baker! Yes, indeed! I've seen this group emerge over the past half-year or so, and I've been wondering about how to join. It finally dawned on me that all I had to was ask - so I did. And I'm in!

The way this works is that each month has a challenge - one member of the group decides on a recipe, and everyone makes it. No alterations are allowed (unless specified) and some of the recipes will be well outside of your comfort zone. That's the point.

This was my first challenge, and it was for a tart. Great, I don't even like tarts that much, was my first thought. However, it was for a milk chocolate and caramel tart - and if anything can makes a tart good, it's milk chocolate and caramel. So I was pretty eager to bake this! It had three basic elements - the pastry dough, the caramel layer and the milk chocolate mousse layer. And an optional topping of caramel shards - I went my own route here.

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My first problem was the dish. I don't have a tart pan with a removable bottom. I thought I did - I'm sure I had one before - but I couldn't find it. And it probably would have been too small anyway. So I used a regular pie dish.

I made the pastry the day before and let it rest over night. It was soft - very, very soft. I didn't think I would be able to roll it out, so I didn't even try - I did what I usually do with tarts, cut it into thin slices and patched them together. That worked out nicely.

The great thing about the Daring Bakers is that you're not in it on your own. There's a whole group of bakers, all working with the same challenge, and there's always someone to ask if things go wrong. So, before I even started, I knew that many were having problems with the pastry which is definitely not like normal pie dough.

It's much more cookie-like, and it has baking powder in it. Now, that means it's going to rise - so I had to weigh it down during the blind baking, something I normally skip. I've never used pie weights before - I don't have any pie weights (but I'd love a set of ceramic beans) so I used dried peas. It worked out reasonably well, and my dough didn't puff too much, nor shrink down the sides. It smelled rather strongly of cinnamon, which also many of the others had said.

For the caramel, I used the original dry method of melting the sugar, caramelizing it and then adding the rest of the ingredients. It worked reasonably well - the sugar seized like crazy when I added cream and butter, but after fifteen minutes of stirring, all lumps had melted and it was perfectly caramelized. Nice.

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The mousse was a very simple one - just melted milk chocolate folded into whipped cream. I used Lindt milk chocolate, which in hindsight was not the best choice. I find Lindt very sweet and caramelly - which is nice for eating, but was a bit over the top in this tart. Anyway - I had no problems with it, but I had read that many found it a bit difficult to spread it evenly across the tart. Spreading is not my strong side, so I decided to pipe it on instead. That worked out well - except that it started to melt towards the very end, and the middle of the tart shows a little bit of that. Oh well - no worries, as I had plans to cover the whole thing in caramelized hazelnuts.

See, since there's hazelnuts in the dough, I immediately thought of caramelizing some nuts to throw on top as well. Not only would it echo the nuttiness of the pastry, and bring a much-needed crunch to this otherwise rather mushy tart, but it would also alert people that there was indeed hazelnuts in this. Hidden nuts can be a real danger - there are so many allergics nowadays.

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Verdict? Ah, mixed reviews, I'd say. Sure, it tasted good. It looked good, too. It was real hard to get out of the pie dish though - not surprisingly, I should add. (Really, DO use a tart pan with a removable bottom. Do!) The crunchy hazelnuts on top was actually a big hit - I'm glad I decided to stray a little bit and add them. I served this as a dessert to our crawfish party, and to be completely honest, I think we had a little too much to drink before even getting to the dessert, and I can't remember all that much about it. So, I decided to have another piece in the morning, just to remind myself. It was still good - but not as good as the night before. The mousse doesn't keep very well so I would definitely not keep it around for more than two days.

If I make this again, I'll change quite a few things. First, I don't think I'll have hazelnuts in the pastry dough. I'd like to try something with a bit darker flavor - maybe walnuts, maybe pecans. And no cinnamon! The caramel was fine as it was, but a bit fiddly to make. I also am not sure why it has eggs and flour in it - I think I'd like to experiment with a thinner layer of straight caramel. And the mousse - well, I'd probably do a more normal mousse (something like this, stabilized with eggs) and use a dark chocolate. That would make the whole dessert less sweet, and to my palate, more interesting.

For the caramelized hazelnuts, I toasted 200 g of hazelnuts and rubbed them with a towel to get rid of most of the skins. I then mixed them with 70 g of confectioner's sugar and one teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a saucepan over high heat. I stirred constantly until the nuts were evenly caramelized, and then I stirred in a tiny pat of butter just to get the nuts to separate. I spread them out on a teflon baking mat (silpat would be nice!) and then separated them quickly. That's it! It made more than I used for the tart, but the remaining nuts make great snacks.

You can find the recipe for the tart, which is from Sweet and Savoury Tarts by Eric Kayser here, or here for example. I'm not re-posting it - I doubt I'll ever make it again. And to check out all the other Daring Bakers, go to the blogroll!

50 comments:

Pille said...

Love your idea of decorating the cake with caramelised hazelnuts - very smart! Sorry to hear, however, that you didn't care so much for this cake - I thought it tasted wonderful (including the cinnamonny pastry layer). I'm definitely going to make this one again, perhaps for Jul :)

Peabody said...

Beautiful job. Love the hazelnuts, I thought about doing that too...but got lazy :)

Anh said...

beautiful! I am glad you can remove the tart from a normal pie pan. And love the caramelised hazelnuts!

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Wonderful tart! I agree about using dark chocolate instead of milk.

Meeta said...

Anne I love the way you piped the mousse on top. This looks so amazing. Also I like the way the sprinkled hazelnuts look as decoration. Wonderful!

Mary said...

Your tart is beautiful! The piped mousse is like little chocolate kisses dotting a caramel landscape.

Anne said...

Beautiful tart! The piped mousse looks really pretty :)

linda said...

The caramelised hazelnuts are indeed a great addition I think. And nice touch to pipe the mousse instead of spreading it...

Morven said...

Your presentation is beautiful and using the hazlenuts on top was a great idea.

cookworm said...

Anne, I just love your technique of piping the mousse on top...it really looks lovely. You've definitely inspired me with this one!

Ilva said...

It looks wonderful Anne, and I agree with your suggestions!

veron said...

Beautiful tart and I like that you piped the mousse. I thought the tart was overly sweet but it was because of the milk chocolate I used. I'm definitely making this again with dark chocolate.

Leslie said...

I agree with you about the Lindt chocolate - I used it as well, and while it made for great gobbling, it was too sweet and not chocolatey enough to make a good chocolate mousse. Great job! Love the piping!

kellypea said...

Congrats on your first challenge! The piped mousse is beautiful -- but mine did keep for four days if you can believe it. It takes three people a while to eat...

Anne said...

Kellypea - wow! I felt it was so less great the next day that I tossed away the rest (gasp! yes!). I didn't look forward to another piece, so, well, there it went.

Deborah said...

I love the piping - and a great idea to incorporate hazelnuts into the topping!!

Anita said...

What a gorgeous way to decorate your tart! I love it!

Brilynn said...

I like that you decided to pipe your mousse, very nice!

the pastry princess said...

oh i love how you piped your mousse! very pretty. beautiful job!

Lis said...

Such a pretty tart, Anne!

I'm just tickled you have joined up with us and I look forward to your future challenges! =)

Way to go!
xoxo

Kelly-Jane said...

Welcome to the DBs and great job on your first challenge! =)

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

Congratulations on your first challenge. The tart looks very pretty, it was a good idea to pipe the mousse!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Anne,
The tart looks wonderful, so beautifully decorated!

Sara said...

Your decorations are just great!

Elle said...

Nice use of the hazelnuts, carmelized even, to decorate the tart. Your tart looks so pretty with the piped mousse. I agree that different nuts and dark chocolate would be a welcome change.

citylivingcountrygirl said...

Bravo! This is truly gorgeous, seriously. Thanks for sharing and inspiring. Do you have any leftovers???

bea at la tartine gourmande said...

What am I going to do with all these lovely posts and this tart? One is more beautiful and tempting than the other!

Andrea said...

I love how you piped the mousse all over the top, and the caramelized hazelnuts are just brilliant! Beautiful!

Jann said...

This turned out wonderfully-bravo!

Ivonne said...

Anne,

Congratulations on completing your first Daring Baker challenge! Your tart is gorgeous!

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Looks great with the hazelnuts on top and the way you put the mousse on. Yum!

Aoife said...

I thought I commented earlier, but if not, I wanted to say how neat the idea of caramelized hazelnuts are. Nice job!

Katie said...

A fellow first timer to the Daring Bakers! Interestingly I piped on my mousse too. Love the idea of the added hazelnuts for the topping.

KJ said...

Congrats on a great first challenge. What a great idea to use hazelnuts in the topping. It never even occurred to me.

*fanny* said...

If you omitted the caramel layer, your tart would be a perfect illustration for a gianduja tart. So yummy looking!

Love xxx
- fanny

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Congratulations on your first challenge! I loved the piped mousse too! I just had a piece with coffee as I only made it yesterday and I like it better today than yesterday. Funny isn't it how we all follow the same recipe but experience different things. All part of being a Daring Baker.

slush said...

Your tart looks fabulous! The piped mousse looks killer. Well done! xo

Jenny said...

I used Lindt also - the extra creamy milk chocolate. I thought it was definitely rich!

I love the hazelnuts on top, what a great idea.

Quellia said...

Beautiful work Anne! Your pipping looks great and the candied nuts was a wonderful idea!

Connie said...

oh! caramelized hazelnuts, great idea! and i thought of piping the mouse as you did, but as i had to transport it, i didn't. i'm glad you did, it turned out so beatiful much prettier than i could ever do! bravo

Tartelette said...

Beautiful tart. The white dish makes it look really elegant! I had to go without the cinnamon and thought it needed a kick, maybe not as much as the original recipe suggested but it would have been nice, about 1 tsp. or so. Congrats on your first challenge!

Amy said...

Love the piping and the caramelized hazelnuts sound absolutely divine! Great job!

Lena said...

Oo... I just loved that one, so sweet but so good.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Welcome Anne,
Fantastic piping job on a wonderful tart.

Chris said...

Looks so great! I love the hazelnuts on the top. Congratulations on your first challenge. Welcome to the DBs!

Heather said...

Welcome to the group. Your tart looks great!

wmpe said...

I love the carmelized hazelnuts on your tart. Thanks for adding you recipe to make them. Your tart looks lovely with the piped mousse. I think pecans would work well too. Wendy

Elis said...

your blog is amazing and have delicious foods.

:)

congratulations!

Dolores said...

Welcome, and congratulations on a successful inaugural challenge. I love your hazelnut topping!

breadchick said...

Great job on your first challenge!! Welcome to the group!