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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Daring Bakers.....Yep, that's right, I said Daring Bakers....

Normally I'm not a big fan of gangs. I don't condone drive-by shootings or hazing or any of that sort of thing. However, every time I watched this "Gang" in action, I knew I had to get in on some of that. Any gang that thinks slinging hot sugar and beating butter and sugar into submission is my kind of gang. So, my "hazing" begins with this, my first challenge as a Daring Baker. Being a member of this gang means being able to challenge yourself once a month with a recipe chosen by a fellow Daring Baker. Everyone has to follow the same recipe as stated by the host. The nifty thing is seeing how each of us interprets the exact same recipe and how everyone ends up with something just a bit different from everyone else. It is definitely a great way to keep pushing one's skills and knowledge, something I'm very keen on. This month's challenge is being hosted by Veron of Veronica's Test Kitchen and Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen. They have chosen to challenge us with a Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart. Now, I'm not the biggest milk chocolate fan, but paired with caramel and a hazelnut crust, really, how can you go wrong? You can't! We were allowed a few changes to the recipe, the only change that I made was to use less cinnamon in the tart crust (I used half the amount stated in the recipe), otherwise I followed it to a T.

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart from Eric Kayser's Sweet and Savory 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.

My tart dough was nicely chilled for rolling:

The dough rolled out quite well for me:I did have a few areas of the tart that I had to patch up (the dough got a bit warm before I was able to transfer it): The shell is lined with parchment and filled with beans for blind baking: The baked tart shell:

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.
Dry method caramel: Put your sugar in a pan:
do not stir it, just swirl the pan as the sugar begins to melt and you will end up with this: I did nuke my heavy cream a bit before adding it to the caramel, because cold cream and caramel just don't mix well (seizing occurs). Even with the cream already heated, it did seize up a bit on me, maybe that was the butter's fault, but I just let it boil a bit as I stirred:
And I ended up with a beautiful deep amber caramel:

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.

Caramel layer before baking:
And after baking (at this point I put the tart into the fridge to cool off for about an hour)
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.
My mousse was a bit on the liquidy side, but it did set up nicely after about two hours in the refrigerator:
The tart sliced nicely after being chilled:
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
Refrigeration :overnight
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
2 eggs
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.
This is how my tart dough looked before I put it in the refrigerator overnight:

All in all the tart was pretty good. I think the crust could have been more chocolatey. The caramel filling was nice, but I thought it tasted a bit eggy. Otherwise, I think this was a wonderful first challenge for me and I look forward to many more fabulous Daring Baker Challenges.

If you want to check out how the other Daring Bakers fared, and believe me, you do, check out the Daring Baker Blogroll. You'll see many many talented bakers with beautiful blogs!

Happy Daring Baking!

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Peabody said...

LOL, I never thought of us as a gang but I guess in a way we are. Beautiful tart!

Barbara said...

Wow, ten out of ten for that tart. Love the square shape.

Lis said...

Yay - beautiful tart, Jen!!

Way to go on your first challenge. =)


Susan said...

Jen, you make it look so easy. Really beautiful!

Ivonne said...

Congratulations on completing your first challenge! You did an amazing job. I especially love the caramel shard!

Astrid said...

Thank you so much for the great process photos! I know how much work that takes, but it makes the post even more interesting to read.

Aoife said...

What beautiful, even layers! Love your tall sugar sculpture.

Dharm said...

Your step by step pics and writeup is amazing! Well done on your first challenge! The tart looks awesome and the layers are just fantastic. Great job!

Deborah said...

Wow - that is a perfect looking tart!!

kellypea said...

I love the way you displayed your photos -- very nice touch! And "Shard Art" on the top...Me, too! Sounds like you had quite the success with this tart.

veron said...

Wow Jen, what a classy way to join the gang of us Daring Bakers. Your tart looks perfect in every way!

Hillary said...

Ok a couple things, 1. you've renewed my interest in caramel and milk chocolate...dear lord, that looks amazing and i thought i disliked both ingredients, 2. you've made me want to become a daring baker myself!, 3. you're so talented! Ok, that's all :)

Sil BsAs said...

WOW... what a perfect tart! congratulations for the blog (new to me) and thanks for the step by step photos, they are great to see the real process.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Jen, we are so glad to have you as part of the "gang" - you are a terrific baker, sweetie!

Your tart is beautiful and the step-by-step photos are very useful!

Marce said...

Congrats on completing your first challenge. I love how your tart came out, and the step-by-step pictures are a great help to anyone attempting the recipe.

Mary said...

Great job on your first DB assignment. Your tart photo with the free form caramel art is very pretty.

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

Congratulations on your first challenge. Your tart is beautiful!

Anita said...

Awesome job Jen - we are definitely proud to have you as one of us! I love the caramel decoration - looks like a splash!

Elle said...

Great first DB challenge Jen! Your square tart is so lovely and the decoration very dramatic. How did you get such a thick layer of caramel? Looks yummy!

Anh said...

beautiful! I just love the first photo - capturing the essence of this tart so well.

Shayne said...

I think yours is one of my favorite pictures for the August Daring baker.

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Wow, Thank you everyone!

Peabody: Oh, it's a gang alright, but a good gang :D

Barbara: Thank you very much. I do love my square tart pan. It's a wonderful thing!

Thank you, Lis! I am having great fun reading and seeing how everyone handled this challenge. I think it was a nice way to ease in! :D

Susan, thank you. I guess working in a bakeshop for so long and having a baking and pastry certificate are doing me some good after all!

Thank you, Ivonne! I had great fun doing my first challenge, and it was enjoyed by some friends we had over for tea :D.

You're welcome Astrid. I love love love taking photos of food as I'm working with it, so the process photos were not a problem for me. Glad you liked them! :D

Thank you very much Aoife! I loved making the caramel shards :).

Dharm: Thank you so much. I'm just so happy to be a part of this group, I had to do it right with loads of photos!

Thank you Deborah :)

Kellypea: Your shard art is much more beautiful than mine! I put them in each piece as I cut them. I love the way you put yours all over the tart, very dramatic! Thank you :D

Aw, shucks, Veron, you are going to make me blush. Classy, thank you! Also thank you very much for co-hosting this event. Great choice for easing me into this fabulous group!

Hillary: Become a Daring Baker, do it! It's so much fun :D Thank you also for making me blush!

Sil Bsas: Thank you so much, I'm glad you like the photos!

Thank you, Patricia! I wouldn't have made such a wonderful on my own without you and Veron hosting this event and of course without the Daring Bakers existing! :D

Thanks, Marce! I do hope the photos can help other's to attempt this. :)

Mary: Thank you! So happy to be a Daring Baker at last (took me a long while to get the courage to ask). :)

Aw, thanks Dagmar!

Anita, I'm proud to be one of us as well! I never thought of the caramel as a splash, neat!

Elle: Thanks so much! I'm not actually sure why my caramel layer is so could be the camera puffed up a bit in the oven too. I may have beaten the eggs too much.

Ahn: Thank you! I loved photographing it (but then I love photographing pretty much anything).

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Thanks so much, Shayne :D

Brilynn said...

Lovely pics! The square pan is great!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Beautiful looking tart! Well done on your first challenge, you did a great job.

Belinda said...

I think all of the Daring Bakers do such a super job with all of the challenges...I really look forward to the day everyone posts about that month's challenge...I wish I were brave enough to be a DB! Your tart is just beautiful. :-)

Sara said...

Hazing! Hee hee! I am so jealous of your tart - your caramel is a beautiful color, and I love the square piece and your decoration too.

marias23 said...

What a polished, professional-looking tart! I'm so jealous of your square tart pan too! Wish I had one ...

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Such a perfect tart! What a great way to kick off your first challenge! Nice work! Beautiful decoration!

Jenny said...

Wonderful! You have created a modern art tart with your shards on top!

Tartelette said...

*clap clap clap* GReat job on your first challenge! It looks absolutely gorgeous!

KJ said...

Wow, your tart is perfect. What a great job.

Quellia said...

Amazing how just changing the shape of the tart makes such a huge difference! I love your square!
Must say though, I never thought of us along the lines of a gang or associated us with drive by shootings. hehehe

Cinara said...

Jen, I've been following the Daring Bakers' saga because of my friend Patricia, from Technicolor Kitchen. You know she is Brazilian also, don't you? Well, we don't live in the same city, but I was fortunate enought to get to know her in person just recently. She's a very sweet girl and also a great baker, and if you must know, you really belong in this gang, Jen! ;o) XXOO

lynn said...

Congratulations on your first challenge. Lovely tart! I especially like your process pictures which make it easy to understand what's going on step by step.

Inne said...

Welcome to the 'gang'; you did a superb job on your first challenge. With the caramel decoration, it almost looks like an abstract work of art!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh Welcome Jen. Yes you are now a member of the DB gang! Gang, gosh I always wanted to one of the gang!
You did a marvelous tart girl.
Incredible that we all used the same recipe!

sunita said...

What a dramatic looking tart...absolutely gorgeous!yluey

Jerry said...

I love your tart pan and the fact that the mousse and caramel is about equal in filling!

wmpe said...

Your caramel fragments are great and your tart squares are perfection. I loved your step-by-step photos. Wendy

Meeta said...

Jen! Fantastic write up and step by step instructions. Your tart looks incredible! Well done!

Rose said...

Beautiful! I enjoy your breads too!

Andrea said...

Glad to have you as part of the "gang!" Your tart looks lovely.

Dolores said...

Gorgeous tart Jen. Congratulations on a successful first challenge!

breadchick said...

Great step by step pictures! You have completed your first challenge absolutely wonderfully!!

Amrita said...

Hey jen!

I've tagged you!

Check out my blog for the details/rules!!! It really is quite fun!

By the way, i LOVE your blog. Muacks!

Barbara said...

Wow, your tart looks yummie!

I just found your blog via Petra's Chili und Ciabatta blog ( and I like your blog a lot! Great posts that you publish here, I am sure I will surf here more often.

Best regards from Germany! :-)