Daring Baker's August Challenge - This time I mean it!




When Veronica and Patricia announced this month's Daring Baker's Challenge, my heart skipped a few beats.

Milk Chocolate...THUMP.... Caramel... THUMP... Tart...THUMP!

Chocolate and caramel and tart, OH MY!

I'm not a big fan of dark chocolate, but I love a good milk chocolate. Combine it with the sweet, sticky goodness that is caramel and you have to have a winner. Push my boundries and tell me to make a tart, something I'd been considering doing for awhile but had not yet done, and I could have given both ladies a kiss!

Yes, I was excited.

The recipe seemed very straight forward and not very complicated. So up it went in it's place of honor, tapped to my kitchen cupboard doors, and off I went to gather my ingredients.

First I was going to need some chocolate.

Think I will have enough for later? :-)

The crust for the tart is a chocolate and hazelnut cookie dough, made a day in advance and left to chill. Seeing as hazelnuts are on the banned list in my home, I was allowed to remove the hazelnut from the crust and able to replace it almost measure for measure for more flour. I was careful to add the flour gradually, just in case I wouldn't need the same amount, and as a result, used 1/4 cup less flour than the recipe called for. So pretty close to measure for measure!

I was thrilled with my success in modifying the crust, almost too thrilled. Everything rather went down hill from there.

Now that the challenge is over, I can tell you why that happened. Having reread the recipe several times now, I can tell you this recipe was badly written. It claims a 40 minute preparation time, a 30 minute baking time and a 1 hour refrigeration time.

Those times are highly unrealistic.

As usual, I made the recipe more than 1 time. I admit, I only made one batch of the shortbread crust, but as it made enough to make 3 tarts, I didn't need to make a second batch. (In retrospect, I should have made a second so I could eliminate the cinnamon, which we were allowed to do by then.) I had to make a second try as my first one was awful! The caramel seized when I added the cream in, but careful stirring over low heat eventually melted them together. The flour clumped when I added it to the eggs and had to be strained into the caramel mixture.

As the recipe times and instructions were not clear as to how cool, or for how long, the caramel needed to be cool before the eggs were added, I had to figure it out on my own. I tempered my eggs, just to be sure, then ended up straining the caramel and egg mixture into the tart shell before I baked it.

Fifteen minutes was not long enough to set the caramel. Neither was 20. But by then I was worried I was going to burn the caramel and took the tart out even though it had not set.

Yes, I let my tart cool before I added the chocolate mousse, but not to room temperature. Remember that 40 minute preparation time from the recipe? And the 1 hour chilling time? Well those didn't take into account time to allow the caramel to cool, time to allow the tart to cool, only time to let the mousse set once it was one the tart. So it was not surprise that my mousse seemed to melt slightly into the caramel.

Doesn't it look appetizing?

Taste wise, it was interesting. A friend described it as a chocolate bar on a crust base. I can't say chocolate crust base though, as all I could taste was the cinnamon, which overwhelmed the caramel and chocolate flavors.

Did I mention I'm not a big fan of Hershey's milk chocolate? Kinda makes that huge bar seem like a silly purchase, but I had forgotten I didn't like the aftertaste of the Hershey's chocolate when I bought it. Fortunately everyone else seems to like it, so I am down to about 1/2 of the chocolate bar through other use and the boys will all eat it straight.

Having been totally unimpressed with the first batch, I decided to make it again. Surely if I managed to get the caramel to set, the tart would taste different?

This time, instead of using a tart pan and making a large one, I decided to make mini's using my regular muffin pan. The dough did not like being rolled out for the tart pan, so for the muffin's, I didn't. Instead I took a piece, smooshed it flat and then pressed it up the sides of the muffin cups, being sure to make it even across the bottom and sides. Then I docked the heck out of them and blind baked them, giving me 12 tart cups to work with.

While they cooked, I started on the caramel base. Taking the option given to use by Veronica and Patricia, I started this base with 1/4 cup of water with my sugar, forgoing the dry heat method of making caramel. My cream stood ready at the side, almost at room temperature, and my eggs sat in a bowl, also coming to room temperature.

Having reached the color of amber I wanted for my caramel, I added the room temperature cream into the hot caramel, waiting for the bubble. And sure enough, the caramel seized again! Then bubbled and hissed as the cream seeped through the sugar to the bottom of the pan. Just like last time, careful stirring over a lower heat melted the caramel and cream together, before the butter was added. And then I walked away.

When the caramel mixture was cool enough, I gradually added the egg mixture, pouring it in through a strainer. Who wants flour lumps in their caramel? Not me, that's for sure!

I baked the muffin tarts for about 25 minutes, until they were mostly set and then let them cool to room temperature before I even started whipping the cream and melting the chocolate.

I loved the look of the mousse when I pipped it into the tarts, smooth and chocolaty. It needed a touch of decoration, but not much. The rustic edges of the crust went well with the swirls of mousse. A sprinkling of toffee pieces was all it needed to give it that finishing touch.

Flavor wise, I still had a hard time getting past the taste of the cinnamon. It overpowered the caramel and chocolate. The set layers allowed tasters to get a bit of everything in a bite, which was a much better way to enjoy them than the floating cloud of mousse on the sea of caramel.

I learned a few things making this recipe - mostly to follow my instincts when they tell me that something is missing from the recipe. If I end up making it again, I will omit the cinnamon and up the cocoa in the crust slightly. I will also not use Hershey chocolate for the mousse but instead find something that I like the flavor of on it's own before I mix it in with cream.

Many thanks to Veronica and Patricia for hosting this month's challenge! Yes I had my ups and downs with it, but no Daring Baker's challenge has been without some yet!

Be sure to check out the rest of the Daring Baker's posts - if you don't know who they are, follow the Daring Baker's Blogroll link and look them up!

I can't wait to see what September brings us! Though I really hope it isn't macaroons cause I think I am macarooned out for awhile!

36 comments:

slush said...

Your tarts look absolutely adorable!! Too cute, great job! xo

Jenny said...

I like the muffin tarts. :)

I got a lot of candy bar comments from friends who tried my tart too... in fact I may need to add that to my blog posting! Someone said that I should put peanuts in the caramel layer and then it would taste like a snickers tart.

amanda. said...

Those look great! I don't like chocolate that much but I want one!

Deborah said...

I would have never thought to do mini tarts in a muffin pan - what a great idea!!! I wish I would have done mine earlier in the month and I would have made it a second time....

Inne said...

the swirly chocolate mousse layer looks really nice!

valentina said...

Quellia, I loved the little tarts. Pretty cute! and the piped mousse just looks great. i only got round to making the base. Now after reading your narrative I understand why Veronica talkend about reading between the lines for the recipe. Btw, love the picture of the lovely smiley face holding on to the enormous chocolate bar. And since I have mentioned that, I also do not like Hershey's.

Peabody said...

I like the use of the muffin pans...makes them even smaller. And I love all food mini. Piping the mousse was the way to go.
Great job....way to not give up.

Ilva said...

I think you are incredible who always makes the challenges twice! I agree about the cinnamon, I think i would like it more without it. But all of my children turned out to love the tart! I almost forgot the most important, the praise: I'm very impressed by the tartelettes, really beautiful!

Connie said...

love the muffin size... and i agree, what was with the cinnamon?

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Your muffin tarts are beautiful! I love the piped on mousse (mine was too soupy to pipe). :D

Mary said...

Never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink. Same goes for chocolate and baking.

You always give 110% to the challenges by making the recipe more than once. How do you find the time? =)

Anh said...

Beautiful tarts! And a big thank to you for keeping us update about your experiment during the month. It helps me a lot when i did mine! *hug hug*

Lis said...

I love you lil tarts.. especially the piping you did - so pretty!!

Glad you tried it again to get the caramel more custardy.. I'm going to do the same and you've given me the great idea of using muffin cups so I can freeze them - thanks!

xoxo

Renz said...

Your presentation so far is one of my favorites, but I agree about the underwhelming taste/texture of the pastry. More cocoa would be delicious.

veron said...

Beautiful tarts , Jenny! I like how you piped the mousse on the little tarts. The recipe did need a lot of reading between the lines...

Andrea said...

I love your tart, it's so pretty! I agree, less cinnamon and more cocoa in the crust!

Chris said...

I love your mini tarts. Looks wonderful!

Aoife said...

Wow, what a marked improvement! I'm glad you gave it another try, because your mini tart is just so cute.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Love the piped mousse! Really wonderful minis! I liked my milk chocolate and the cinnamon. Maybe you just don't like milk chocolate.

Amy said...

Wow great job! You're quite the trooper making the tart again. The little muffin tartlets are too cute!

Katie said...

I'm glad you persisted and tried the mini ones. They are so cute.

Baking Soda said...

I would never have guessed your troubles on seeing your cuptart! It looks awesome! Love the piping, very elegant and the combination with the robust crust is great.

Janet said...

That looks very impressive!! I can't believe you had the energy to make it twice! But, you were obviously able to make lots of improvement on the second go round.

ktorrek said...

Man, those look awesome. I need to not read your blog when I'm hungry!

sunita said...

Such lovely tarts...great job!

Leslie said...

The mini tarts are adorable! I agree about the taste of hershey chocolate - not a fan either. For cheap stuff, I love cadbury, but I usually defer to Lindt for baking (though the milk chocolate is decidedly milky and not terribly chocolatey....). Great job!

Claire said...

I love the mini-tarts. They look so cute and delicious...kind of remind me of Reese's. :-)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

That is one big bar or chocolate! I was sure I posted a comment here but obviously not. Love the fact you went on to make mini tarts.

Jerry said...

I love the tart shells, I love how they are perfect edible bites!
Oh and I wish I had some hot firemen, but I did have the hot boy!

Kelly-Jane said...

They are stunning done in muffin pans! Well done, and I've never seen such a huge bar of chocolate!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Nice job! I am not a big fan of Hershey's either and I would have preffered using dark chocolate! But yours are incredibly cute!

Heather said...

how cute.

Dolores said...

I love love LOVE your muffin-tarts. :) And your perserverance in working with/through/around the recipe until you got the product you were looking for. Congratulations!

Glenna said...

They're so pretty!!!

breadchick said...

Your little tartlettes are SOOOO adorable! And how inventive of you to use a cupcake pan!!!

Morven said...

What a delightful rendition of the tart - very cute indeed.