I couldn’t be happier to say that I finished my first Daring Baker Challenge! Having never made caramel or mousse before, I was extremely intimidated. Especially after reading all the fab blogs of Daring Baker members. I only hit a few bumps in the road. One being on the day after I made the crust 2 of my boys woke up not feeling well. I had to do my best to get ‘er done during nap time. I had halved the crust recipe as I didnt need 3 crusts. And then I halved the amount of cinnamon knowing that 1 full teaspoon would be way too much for myself and the fam. The crust came out pretty well. I tossed it in the fridge over night, and in the morning dug it out. It was extremely brick like after being in there over night, so I let it sit on the counter for a good while to warm up.
Next was the caramel. I have never made caramel before and was scared of molten sugar. But I kept the temp low, tried to stay patient, not rush it, and it worked!! Now admittedly I did not try the “dry method” for the filling. After doing my research I went with the sugar/water/corn syrup method when I saw it was an option. When it was a good amber color, I took it off the heat and poured in my cream, which was room temp. It seized. And I thought I was doomed. However, I put it right back on the heat and wisked with a fury. Thank goodness it worked, and became a smooth syrupy liquid. I then added the butter and continued to wisk. Once it cooled a few min, I added the eggs, flour, which I wisked the hell out of to remove any lumps. I ended up baking the caramel and crust combo for 30 min not 15. I checked it every 5 min after 15, but it didnt seem to set until 30 min. And since the crust didnt seem overly brown, I think that was ok.
The mousse was easy. Whipped up the cream and folded in the chocolate. I could have encorporated them better I think, but I was in a rush trying to finish this challenge while my boys were napping since 2 of them were not feeling well. I plopped the mousse on top and smoothed it out. Noticing that the tart was not totally cool and the mousse seems to be melting a tad bit. I threw it in the fridge quickly.
When mixing up the whipped cream for the mousse I made extra to garnish with. And then moved on to the caramel pieces. I decided to try the dry method for the pieces just to give it a shot. Once I saw the sugar start to melt, I stirred it and I am so glad I did. I think the sugar on the bottom would have burned before the sugar on top even melted. I got a good caramelly color when I stirred, quickly put it back on the heat so all the sugar was melted and then poured it onto a pan of aluminum foil. It turned out tasty as can be. Like peanut brittle without the peanuts. I broke it into large pieces. “Shark fins” as Jaos called them. I piped whipped cream on the top and then put the “fins” in. It looked pretty darn good I think.
Consensus: Both Jaos and I really liked it. I thought the crust was too thick, and I couldnt taste the hazelnuts in the crust. He thought the crust was fine and could taste the nuts. I was glad that I only put a portion of the cinnamon in. The crust had good flavor, there was just too much of it for me. I think I could have pressed a thinner layer into the pie plate if it hadnt been chilled over night. The caramel and the mousse together were fantastic. It is indeed a very sweet dessert. But I think the flavors meshed well. It was kid tested and approved by my 5 yo. as well. So its a keeper for this household. Next time I will omit the hazelnuts, and try semi sweet chocolate.
I want to thank the ladies at Daring Bakers for letting me join their ever growing club. I am quite honored. I would have never ever tackled a dessert like this without a great reason. Thank you!
Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart by Eric Kayser
Daring Bakers Challenge #9
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.
For those of you not too keen on caramel, the caramel fragments for decoration can be optional and you can be creative with this. The recipe said to make the caramel using the dry method, I think it meant straight sugar. I am used to adding water and corn syrup to mine but I am going to give the dry method a try. So it’s up to you what method you want to make the caramel itself. Just make sure that the caramel-cream and chocolate layers are true to the recipe. The Chocolate Shortbread pastry can make 3 tart shells. So if you want to cut that recipe into thirds then do so but I’m not promising it will scale down properly.