Chocolate and Caramel Tart - The Sweetest Challenge

ChocCaramelTart (18) by MeetaK


Chocolate - caramel - chocolate - caramel.

Have I gone ga-ga? No!!

It's the end of the month and that means we unveil another incredible Daring Bakers challenge for the rest of the blogoshpere. This time a fantastic tart that tantalizes my chocolate addiction. Paired with caramel, it simply goes down as the most extravagant creations to date.



This month it was the beautiful Veron co-hosting with the lovely Patricia who chose the challenge. A tart taken from Eric Kayser's hot cookbook Sweet and Savory Tarts. After I made this tart, I went out and got myself a copy of this and believe me it is hot!

The tart is a simple layering of a chocolate crust flavored with cinnamon, layered with a wonderful soft caramel, then topped with a fluffy chocolate mousse layer and finally, sprinkled with crunchy caramel fragments.

Chocolate - caramel - chocolate - caramel.

Out of this world!

As is always the case we were allowed a few modifications, otherwise everyone had to stick to the recipe given by Veron and Patricia.

Allowed Modifications:
  • Caramel fragment toppings were optional but make sure that the caramel-cream and chocolate layers are true to the recipe
  • If we had no luck with the dry method of making the caramel, then we were able to use the alternate method shown at the end of the recipe.
  • The cinnamon can be eliminated if we did not like the spice.
  • Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in our region


ChocCaramelTart (13) by MeetaK


This time I waited a while to go ahead with the challenge. Normally I've had the opportunity to finish it off on the first-second week but this time there were a few other things that needed tending to.

I realized there were a few advantages and disadvantages to both sides.
Completing the challenge earlier in the month allowed me to relax, sit back and help out others in the group with what I had experienced. Disadvantage here was that you had to learn from your own experiences. Doing it a little later on in the month meant that others were able to help out and you used their experience not to make the same mistakes. Disadvantage was that you are a nervous wreck by the time you decide to make the cake because of all the horror stories you have read on the DB blog!

In the end though I think many of us completed this challenge with success. Without much ado - I present the Daring Baker challenge for August 2007.




Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
Recipe Quantity: One (1) 9" Square or one (1) 10" Round tart

Chocolate Shortbread Pastry
Note: The Chocolate Shortbread pastry can make 3 tart shells. If you would like to cut that recipe into thirds then you may do so, however there is no guarantee it will scale down properly.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Refrigeration: overnight

Ingredients:

250g (1 cup ) unsalted butter, softened
150g plus 2 tablespoons (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
50g (½ cup) ground hazelnuts
2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 eggs
400g (4 ½ cups) cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder

Method

A day ahead
In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon, and mix together. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly.

Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and incorporate well. Knead the dough with your hands and form a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

This was the easiest method we've used to prepar dough in the DB challenge. The dough was made within minutes and I really thought that I did something wrong because it was so easy. LOL!

You will notice that the chocolate dough is very soft, but don't worry it hardens well after refrigerating.

ChocCaramelTart (04) by MeetaK


Milk Chocolate and Caramel Layers
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

250g (½ lb) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe above)
300g (1 ½ cups) granulated sugar
250g (1 cup) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche
50g (¼ cup) butter
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
15g flour
300g (1 ¼ cups) whipping cream
250g (½ lb) milk chocolate

Method
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (325 °F). Line the baking pan with the chocolate shortbread pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes.

I did not have any trouble rolling the dough out, what gave me a bit of problems was trying to get the dough into the pan. I had floured the counter top well but it kept cracking up on me every time I tried lifting it to line the pan. In the end I managed it well, just had to use a bit of patchwork for some sections of the crust.

In a saucepan, caramelize 200 g (1 cup) 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.

This is the method I used rather than the alternative method mentioned below. I took on the challenge head on. I had no trouble melting the sugar. After reading several comments and statements on the DB blog I kept my cream out to get it to room temperature. However, after adding it to the melted sugar, the caramel went rock hard. But the trick was to keep it on the heat, stirring continuously. Soon I had the most awesome colored cream caramel mixture with no lumps. I dipped my finger for a taste - heaven was in my saucepan!

ChocCaramelTart (12) by MeetaK


In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs with the extra egg yolk, then incorporate the flour. Pour this into the cream-caramel mixture and mix thoroughly.

Before doing this my advice here would be to make sure the caramel has cooled down considerably. Then once ready temper the egg mixture. Simply take a few tablespoons of the caramel mixture and add it to the egg mixture, stirring all the time. Once the egg mixture has almost reached the temperature of the caramel mixture simply pour the egg mixture into the saucepan.

Spread it out in the tart shell and bake for 15-20 minutes until the caramel has set. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Prepare the milk chocolate mousse by beating 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.

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 thin side and I was a bit worried if it would set well. It did eventually but took more than an hour. It was OK though as I was serving it the next day.

Caramel Fragments:

ChocCaramelTart (06) by MeetaK


Melt 100g (½ cup) 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.

My word of advice here would be to do this on each slice of cake separately. I stored the caramel bits in an airtight container and just before serving sprinkled the slice with the fragments. I noticed that if you spread the fragments all over the cake and then refrigerate the caramel kind of disintegrates into the cake. Leaves you with outlines of where the bits were but no crunchy bits to bite.

Alternate Caramel Method:
If you have problems with the dry method, you may use this method.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Set mixture in a pot over medium-high heat and stir slowly. When the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring and leave it alone. Wait till desired color is attained .

Proceed with the rest of the recipe.


Verdict

ChocCaramelTart (14) by MeetaK


A fantastic recipe. It was fun and easy to make. In between the stages I even was able to clean the entire house top to bottom!! I enjoyed this recipe the most and would call it my current favorite. The caramel was lovely - ooey and gooey just like I imagined it to be. The mousse was fluffy and light. Together it melted in the mouth like silk.

The only bit of a down was the extreme cinnamon flavor in the crust. It really stood out. I have nothing against cinnamon, being an Indian have had it in all sorts of things that most people would not pair it with. But it was always just an hint. In this tart it was quite over-powering. Another thing about the tart is that it is amazingly filling. A little piece and it's all you can take. I brought this as dessert to a pot luck barbecue party at one of our neighbors' and served it in little square bite sizes. This was the ideal way as people were able to indulge in it a little more than just one huge piece. All in all it came off with everyone really well and I know many of the guests will be tuning in today to check out the recipe.

Would I make this again?
Yes, actually I already have plans to make this again for another party next month. This time I will cut down the cinnamon amount so that it's not as intense. There was nothing about this recipe I did not enjoy. The only shock second I had was when the caramel went hard as soon as the cream hit it, but I relaxed after it all started melt into the right consistency again.

What did I learn from this challenge?
That a food processor is my best friend when it comes to making dough. I have been one that always kneads with the hands or uses the kneading hooks on my hand mixer. The food processor has been used only a very few times to actually make dough. This challenge reminded me that I should use it more often.

I thank both Veron and Patricia for choosing this brilliant challenge for us and also for answering all questions so promptly. If you would like to get more of a chocolate and caramel rush then I would advice you to work your way down the list over at the Daring Bakers' Blogroll.

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83 comments:

  1. Oh wow, Meeta! Why did I have to visit blogs first thing in the morning???@@@@ all these wonderful goodies challenging my senses:)

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  2. Your cake looks absolutely stunning, with all those beautiful layers!!! I had issues (khm) with the chocolate mousse layer, but still loved the cake a lot, and am looking forward to making it again. I think it would be perfect during the Christmas season..

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  3. Yes, the food processor is your friend...especially when making this kind of dough.
    I love how yours shows all the layers!

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  4. Meeta,
    Well Done! How on earth did you get ALL the layers exactly the same size? And your photographs are just wonderful as well. So nicely done.

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  5. Who would be able to resist such lovely tarts ;) The photo's are fabulous as always :)

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  6. I'm simply blown away at your perfect layers! You did a marvelous job and I loved reading the post. :)

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  7. Stunning! Absolutely elegant!
    Why oh why can't I get any photos up so I can go ahead and post? Sorry frustration overflowing here!
    Love your square presentation!

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  8. Beautiful presentation as ever Meeta! It was the first time I'd used my food processor in a while too.

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  9. Meeta...that is looking so wonderful!!!!...so tempting....would love to have a bite of that..thanks for sharing such a wonderful piece of art...

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  10. Wonderful tart Meeta, really perfect :) I liked this one too, and thought it was a fun one to make!

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  11. Oh, your tart is so perfect! I'm sure I could measure with a ruler and find that the layers are exactly the same height. :) And I agree that tiny slices are the way to go.

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  12. The tart looks absolutely gorgeous!I love your caramel layer!

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  13. Meeta those layers are perfect. Makes mine look awful.

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  14. I like that you made squares of your tart, very original and very cute!

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  15. Meeta, you have a lovely blog dear! Hug to you too! You have challingad the baker in me! After seeing the lovely picture I have to make this cake! I have bookmarked your recipe.

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  16. It is incredible how the motifs on the background fabric echo the shape and colors of the layers of the tart! Looks fantastic.

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  17. It's beautiful Meeta! The layers are perfect and came out exactly the same. I had some failures, but I'll write about it my post which I'll post tonight.

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  18. Each layer looks perfect and stunning! I'm on an overdose of sweets now, yet this is so tempting!

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  19. Your tart looks just like the one in the book! Your layers are so perfect! I'm glad you liked the challenge.

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  20. Meeta, my brother in law swears by his food processor for dough as well. These look sinfully delicious. Just looking at your pictures makes me feel like I have caramel in my mouth!!

    I'm really impressed at your meeting up with these DB challenges. Nice to tune in and see how they fare.

    Kanchana

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  21. This just looks wonderful Meeta, perfection!

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  22. I absolutely LOVE your rendition of this chocolate & caramel tart for the daring bakers challenge. It's so sophisticated-looking, with the precision of each layer's thickness and specific flavor. Bravo, Meeta!

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  23. Your cake is so pretty! I love how you cut it in little squares - absolutely lovely! And I'm totally with you on the cinnamon - I will willingly pair cinnamon with a lotta things (chicken, beef and sometimes chocolate), but this really was not a good use of it. Great job!

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  24. Meeta, I love, love, love the way you presented your tart! This is stunning, my friend!

    And I'm also glad you liked the recipe!

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  25. Could your tart look any more like the picture in the recipe?? WOW! Fantastic job!! (no jealousy here. no never. not from me. nope) :) xo

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  26. Beautiful job Meeta! I agree, Eric Kayser's book is gorgeous and always makes me want to start making tart dough when I read it!

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  27. i hear ya about the cimnnamon. as desis, we're used to cinnamon in savoury dishes, not sweet. j and i hate cinnamon in sweet dishes. we avoid it.

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  28. It's so perfect and looks exactly like the photo provided! Very pretty! And I, too, found the processor interesting for this particular dough.

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  29. Beautiful and Gorgeous!!
    Somehow when I look at the pic, I am reminded of tiramisu :)

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  30. wow! the colors, the textures and the flavors blend seamlessly!!!
    Lovely! what a visual treat :)

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  31. What perfect little slices you got! Those layers are exact!

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  32. How long do you workout everyday to offset all this :))!! beautiful tart..perfect layers!!

    Priya

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  33. I should have known that yours would turn out perfectly! I aim to bake like you!!!

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  34. I have no words...let me try...O My God!

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  35. Wow you do have patience to make all these layers. And it looks so wonderful. Wish i could make it like this.

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  36. stunning.. and kudos to you for capturing the beauty of your dish so well....

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  37. Great write up as always and a pleasure to read. You did an amazing job. Beautiful layers!

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  38. Thanks everyone. You know what I did not realize that the layers were as good as you all say they are until you mentioned it. LOL!

    I really thank you all for all these gracious comments. This really motivates to do more. Hugs all around!

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  39. As usual your photos are some of the absolute best. All the square shapes are so complimentary. The tart layers are so perfect and the topping of crunchy caramel delightful.

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  40. Oh my, Meeta! It's a thing of beauty. Your layers are so distinct. Congratulations on a most beautiful tart!

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  41. Wow thats incredible, Meeta....
    great job!

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  42. lovely photos! i really liked how cleanly the tart cut (and of course it was delicious!).

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  43. Meeta, absolutely delish,boy caramel and chocolate can it get any better then this

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  44. Beautiful little squares! I've been reading through many posts about this month's challenge, and yours is the first (the only?) to make a square tart. I love it.

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  45. Love the square pieces. How on earth did you cut them so cleanly? Mine were a pile on the plate - presentation is everything and yours is makiing me drool.

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  46. Your tart is cut into perfect squares. Your layers look distinct and wonderful. I appreciate your sections of "What I Learned" and "Would I Make it Again." Just lovely. Wendy

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  47. Your tart looks perfect, you seem to ahve got even thickness of layers for all three components. I would have liked a bit more pastry with mine. The shards looks great too.

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  48. Your tart looks picture perfect! Just like the one in the cookbook. Great job!

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  49. This looks exactly like the picture that came with the challenge post. What a fantastic job.

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  50. wowowowowowow!! my fave two combined! choc and caramel! yummmmy!! :D

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  51. I love your photography...wow, simply stunning, and of course, your tart is absolutely beautiful! I don't know how you Daring Bakers do it, but every time the challenges are unveiled, everything looks straight out of a magazine perfect. :-)

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  52. Meeta, it looks like absolute perfection!

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  53. Thank you all for you feedback and such awesome comments. I really appreciate it!

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  54. When my hubby saw this picture, he said:" waouu! Meeta's tart looks really good" Thaks honey for my tart! But he is right, it looks absolutely gorgeous.

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  55. Looks so beautiful Meeta. I agree with you about cinnamon. My husband and I absolutely hate it in sweet dishes. I stopped using it in all my cakes(after throwing away few cakes because of the smell).

    I am still wondering how you made those absolutely gorgeous looking square pieces and also the perfect layers...perfect caramel fragments....In all, amazing....

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  56. I adore your tart, Meeta! It looks so polished and professional! I must say that I have much to learn from fellow DBers!

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  57. Great job, Meeta! I love the way you cut yours into cute litttle squares! Very very nice!

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  58. What perfect slices with perfect layers! I cooked the caramel for the 15 minutes and no more (I was one of the first to make it so the advice was after I'd already finished it). I might try making it again with dark chocolate, no cinnamon, and perhaps bananas...

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  59. I'm the opposite of you - I made this challenge much earlier in the month than usual - I'm usually late or rushing to finish! Nice job, love the squares.

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  60. Way to go, Meeta! Your slices are just gorgeous!

    Your layers are perfect! =)

    xoxo

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  61. Nice striations in the tart layers! With the thick crust, they almost look like Venetian cookies.

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  62. Lovely photos, as always. I particularly like how you served it in little squares, because that's about all one can eat at a time! Very rich! :-)

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  63. Making the caramel is always a surprise! I think you have to have a little leap of faith and keep stirring.
    Meeta, that is such an incredibly good looking tart. I really want a little square and I thought I'd had enough.
    It really does taste pretty good doesn't it!!

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  64. Meeta... I am hungry for one of these right now!!!

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  65. Meeta your tart looks absolutely luscious! I really like how the chocolate and caramel layer are so distinct...sigh, wish I could have a taste!

    I'll keep your tip about the food processor in mind :)

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  66. Your tart looks stunning!
    And having read your comments on other Daring Baker's blogs, I came in expecting you to have had all kinds of problems! You ruled this recipe!
    Beautiful work Meeta, as usual!

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  67. Meeta, I love your clear distinct layers.

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  68. Your tart layers are absolutely perfect! Nicely done :D

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  69. Your little squares are incredibly cute!

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  70. Your tart looks gorgeous, and your write up is very detailed and informative. Thank-you, I really enjoyed your post.

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  71. Wow! Your tart looks beautiful! The layers are peeerrrrfect.

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  72. Meeta, your slices look yummy - I am drooling.I didn't manage to do the whole thing. Time is not my friend at the moment. I love the way your layers are so symetric. I wish I had been at this barbecue so that I could have tasted it.

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  73. Oh my...
    I've just eaten lunch but this recipe gives me a serious chocolate craving! Hmm... and i just got this wonderful melting pan from IKEA...
    You'll make a baker of me yet!

    ;)

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  74. Aww shucks people - thanks for this overwhelming response! I appreciate all these comments! Hugs!

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  75. OMG I am absolutely in love! We're having a food fest tomorrow at work and this dish of yumminess would be perfect!

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  76. Oh... Meeta...this is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty.

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  77. You got me with this one girl.
    This is the meanest chocolate tart I can imagine. wow what a presentation! Wish I could grab some from pictures. Hey you are with me for this one. My food processor, I would die without that. Sometimes I think I am abusing the poor thing. I use it that much. Be it chopping processing grinding the khaman batter or making the dough. That poor thing is with me since 10 years now, nope never gave me a hard time.
    cheers

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  78. Metta your pictures are always so perfect. AND YOUR LAYERS!! Like each was perfectly sculpted. Great job!!

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  79. Something to be truly proud of. Perfect layers, Meeta.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta