CARAMEL CHOCOLATE TARTLETS


With this post I become a life-time member of The Craftsy Cheerleading Club.  Quite likely the oldest member of the organization, but my enthusiasm matches that of a sophomore. This class in particular Pies and Tarts for Every Season, is taught by  Gesine Bullock-Prado. I’m a bit distant from TV (except for binge watching stuff like Broadchurch, Outlander, Black Mirror) so I had no clue she is such a hot commodity in the media. Deservedly so. Teaching is a bit of a performing act. You need to capture the attention of your students and at the same time convey your message in a clear and efficient way. Lightening up a lecture using jokes and funny analogies is a nice way to make sure your audience stays with you. However, balance is everything. There is a delicate line to negotiate between lightness and solid info, and she really shines at it. I learned a lot about pie crusts, how to manipulate each kind, how to choose which crust to bake depending on the type of filling. All in a fun, relaxed way.  I am always amazed at the quality of online classes offered by Craftsy, and the reviews by users are for the most part spot on. Before buying any class, you can browse through to see exactly what you’ll be getting, and the feedback from other users. A win-win situation. Now, for the bit of bad news. I could not get permission to publish the recipe, so if you are interested in the exact formula Gesine used for crust and filling, you’ll have to get it from the site.

OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE

It all starts with the crust. You have several options. You can make a single larger tart, or shape about 50g of dough per tartlet, using muffin rings or a tartlet pan like I did. Compared to a muffin ring, my tarts were a tad bit bigger, so I used 60g of dough for each one. Her recipe has some cute twists, like using condensed milk in the dough. It gives not only a more intense sweetness, but it browns nicely in the oven.  Following her detailed instructions, I was happy to get all tarts to bake evenly, no soggy bottoms (who wants to have that? not me!), and basically zero shrinkage (scary thought).

I added my own little twist to the preparation by placing the pie weights (and dried beans) into the shells using food grade plastic wrap instead of parchment paper. It does not melt in the oven, as long as you crumble it on top preventing it from touching the metal of the pan, you’ll be fine.  I love the way it allows the beans and ceramic balls to reach the edge of the tart. As long as you don’t bake the shells in a higher than 400F oven, no problem.  After the initial baking with weights, I removed them, got the shells back in a baking sheet and baked with the bottoms up in the air as shown in the photo. I just wanted to prevent any soggy bottom phenomenon (watching Great British Bake Off made me traumatized about those).

For her caramel recipe, she uses a bit of maple syrup in addition to usual suspects. Any caramel recipe you enjoy will do, make sure to cook it to the correct temperature, 240 F, that will provide the perfect texture. No caramel running out when you slice the tartlet, no biting into a rock either.  It hardens very quickly, but I still allowed the filled tartlets to rest at room temperature for a good 45 minutes before adding the chocolate ganache.  Again, any recipe will do, but you need to have it almost cool to room temperature, so that it pipes nicely using a 1/4 inch piping tip.

You can be creative, do swirls, waves, fill it solid and play with the surface using an off-set spatula. Once it’s set, sprinkle Graham cracker crumbs on top, or anything else you might like. A drizzle of white chocolate? Oreo crumbs? Gold leaf in pieces? Or as Gesine does in the video,  top with toasted mini-marshmallows and call them Caramel Smore’s Tarts.   Brilliant!  You can probably see a picture on Craftsy. Adorable stuff.

I had a blast making these… and the taste? Spectacular, even if I say so myself

That’s what you want… A nice layer of caramel in between the crunchy crust and the luscious chocolate ganache. Next time I will use muffin rings, so that the top of the crust will be leveled with the chocolate. If you have muffin rings, give them a try as tartlet containers.

Did I mention these would be amazing on Valentine’s Day?

Gesine, thank you for your helpful comments,
I have quite a few of your projects on my list of stuff to try soon….  

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ZESTY FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE

VALENTINE’S DAY IS COMING UP!

Flourless Chocolate Cake is one of our favorite desserts. Creamy, chocolate-y, sweet, intense, decadent but not too much. Not until I took it to a new level, that is. First, I added orange zest to the batter. Not a lot, but enough to give the cake a brighter flavor. Chocolate and orange is another one of those culinary matches made in heaven, if you ask me. This cake proves it.  But what really took care of decadence was adding a ganache on top, and then shaving Valrhona chocolate all over. OMG, this was stupendously good.

flourlesschoccake

 

ZESTY FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
(adapted from this recipe)

7 oz extra bittersweet chocolate
14 Tbs unsalted butter  (1 + 3/4 sticks)
5 large eggs, separated
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of half a large orange
pinch of salt
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
for the ganache:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut in small pieces
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Shaved chocolate to taste for final decoration

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan.

In a small bowl, sift the sugar and combine it with the orange zest. Rub the zest with your fingers to release the oils into the sugar. Reserve.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over simmering water, heating until fully melted and smooth.  Transfer to a bowl, let it cool slightly for a few minutes, and whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla.  Add the sugar/orange mixture,  salt, and cocoa powder, while constantly stirring.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.  Gently mix about one-third of them into the chocolate mixture, fold the remaining whites trying to deflate them as little as possible. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan.  Place in the lower rack of the oven and bake for 25-28 minutes.

Remove the cake to a rack and immediately loosen the sides of the pan. Allow the cake to cool before icing. If the cake is too uneven, shave the protruding parts with a serrated knife to even out the surface, but no need to make it perfectly flat. Usually the edges will be a bit too high, with a collapsed center.

Make the ganache by heating the whipping cream in a small saucepan until bubbles appear along the sides. Place the chocolate in a small bowl, and add the hot whipping cream and the vanilla on top. Mix gently until the chocolate is fully incorporated, very smooth. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then pour over the cool cake. I like to do that by placing the cake back in the springform pan, so that the icing is contained. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Open the pan and remove the iced cake to a serving platter, leaving it at room temperature for half an hour or so before slicing it (a wet knife is a must).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: I’ve always been partial to a classic flourless cake in which at most a delicate shower of powdered sugar would be added for cosmetic reasons. The surface of a flourless cake tends to be a bit cracked and uneven, as the cake puffs up in the oven, but then collapses in all its fugdy glory.  A dollop of whipped cream would show up in real special situations. But those who follow my blog might remember that my husband firmly believes that a cake is not a cake without frosting. Or icing. Or whatever indulgent concoction is added on top of it. Powdered sugar would not suffice. I made this cake the day before we would be hosting a reception at home, and Phil started his Movement For Frosting right away. I caved. Made a simple ganache and poured all over it early next morning. Then shaved some Valrhona chocolate on top. Decadent? Perhaps. But I tell you, this was one awesome cake.  Try it, serve it for your friends, sit back and wait for the compliments. Once they stop moaning, that is…

I apologize for not sharing a picture of the sliced cake, but I do not like to take pictures when we are having a get-together. Just imagine a very dense, moist, perfect slice, that when you cut with your fork, will leave a nice coating of slightly melted chocolate on its tines. You then use your lips – with as much elegance as humanly possible –  to clean the fork, and repeat the process. Ad libitum.

flourless-chocolate-cake-from-bewitching-kitchen

Have I mentioned that Valentine’s Day is coming up?
(wink, wink)

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RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

I feel the need to redeem myself after sharing a recipe that reduced my life expectancy a little, and added considerable more gray hair around my face. Maybe you are like us and prefer to stay home in Valentine’s Day? After all, it’s hard to beat a home-cooked dinner with the fireplace going and a nice glass of wine… Maybe you are planning on a store-bought dessert to make your life easier?  Well, I am here to change your mind. This is one of the simplest ways to end a romantic meal, and so easy to put together it is almost a non-recipe.  You can make it the day before, you can make it in the morning, you can make it just a couple of hours before showtime, whatever suits your schedule.  Come to think of it, it is the antithesis of a sugar cookie with royal icing.  And, let’s face it, a truffle is a lot more elegant and grown up. Plus no need to spend 1 hour and 49 minutes cleaning up the kitchen when you’re done. The recipe comes from the new FoodTV show Giada Entertains, which truth be told puts me in a compulsive eye-roll mode. Still, some recipes seem like winners, and this is definitely one. She called them poppers, I am calling them truffles, and you’ll soon understand why.

Raspberry Chocolate Truffles

RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES 
(from Giada de Laurentiis)

3/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate (70 percent), chopped fine
Three 0.33-ounce packages cherry Pop Rocks
12 raspberries

Add the heavy cream to a small saucepan and warm it gently over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for about 2 minutes, then stir with a whisk, working from the center of the bowl outwards, until the ganache mixture is smooth and well incorporated.

To a 12-cup silicone mini muffin pan, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon Pop Rocks in each cup. Divide the ganache evenly among the cups and press the raspberries on top. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. I refrigerated them overnight. Just before serving, unmold the tarts.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: As you know, I did not grow up in the US, so most  kid-friendly candies are unknown to me. For instance, popping candy, or pop rocks. I was clueless about them, but when I saw Giada’s face as she poured some in her mouth, I could not wait to try some myself. Problem is, they were nowhere to be found. I searched all grocery stores, even tried Walgreens, but no luck. So I did what any sensible human being does, took a virtual stride to amazon.com and placed an order. I specified the flavor used in the show, Original Cherry.  The package took forever to arrive, but when it did, watermelon pop was inside. Oh, well, it’s also pink, and it pops. I decided to go with it.

The crystals made cute noises  when I poured the ganache on top, but by the time we enjoyed the truffles, no one could tell there was anything in them apart from chocolate and the crowning raspberry. Still, they were perfectly delicious, fantastic texture, creamy, luscious, dream-inducing… just pop-less.  Oh, well. Maybe you need to consume them within a couple of hours so that the candy won’t completely dissolve in the truffle?  A carefully controlled experiment is needed. At any rate, if you don’t have popping candy around, don’t let that stop you.  They will be perfect to close your romantic meal…

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Red Velvet Cupcakes

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy Valentine’s Day!

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FIVE YEARS AGO:  Sophie Grigson’s Parmesan Cake

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VALENTINE’S DAY: THE FINALE

Three days, three posts!  In my series of collaborative articles with Jamie, from Cooking in Red Socks, it is now time to share the dessert course of our romantic meal for two. But, before I do that, let me urge you to visit her site and check out her choice for the last course of her V-day extravaganza! She pulled all the stops and made some seriously gorgeous Strawberry Napoleons, heart shaped and all.  I am in complete awe! Wish I was one of the guests in her party… 😉

Now, to the finale of my dinner for two. It was hard for me not to think about chocolate when choosing a dessert for Valentine’s Day. Having settled on that, I needed something red and sexy to pair it with. Red and sexy like raspberries. All lightly dusted with a very light sprinkle of powdered sugar. For good measure.

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CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH RASPBERRIES
(from Good Food Magazine, May 2010)

85g dark chocolate, 70% (I used Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp espresso powder (I used Spice House
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
boiling water (enough to use 2 tablespoons)
1 tbsp sugar
50g full-fat Greek yogurt
raspberries, to decorate
powdered sugar

Chop the chocolate very finely and put it into a large bowl that will fit over a pan of simmering water. Mix the cocoa, coffee and vanilla with 2 tbsp cold water, and pour over the chocolate. Place the bowl over simmering water, give it all a stir, then remove from the heat. Leave the bowl still over the hot water, stirring occasionally until fully melted.  If necessary, place the water back on the stove for a minute or so.

Stir the melted chocolate, it will be quite thick. Stir in 2 tbsp boiling water and the chocolate will immediately thin down and become silky smooth. Leave to cool slightly.

Beat the egg whites to fairly soft peaks, then whisk in the sugar until thick and glossy. Beat the yogurt into the cooled chocolate. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mix using a large metal spoon, then very gently fold in the rest of the whites until they are evenly mixed in.

Spoon into 4 small cups or ramekins and chill for a couple of hours, or overnight.  Top with a few raspberries, then dust with a little powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Comments:  As far as chocolate mousse goes, this is one of the lightest options you will find. Because our cups were a bit large, the recipe made only two portions, each one  perfect to be shared.  As a result, we enjoyed this dessert two days in a row. Naughty naughty naughty…

The yogurt gives the mousse a little bit of a tang, cutting the richness of the chocolate.  If you are fond of that super rich feeling of a regular mousse, this could be too light for you.  But, if you rather play conservative with your sweets, this is a perfect way to end a romantic dinner.

Make sure to stop by Jamie’s site to see what she is sharing with her friends.

VDay2014

Jamie, it was great to collaborate with you on this joint virtual project!
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day celebration!

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TWO YEARS AGO: Dan Dan Noodles

THREE YEARS AGO: Sophie Grigson’s Parmesan Cake

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LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, EGGS IN SNOW

Eggs in snow” or “oeufs a la neige” or “ovos nevados“… conveys the same delight in any language: a classy, delicious, impressive dessert, that’s surprisingly simple to make. Besides that, you can prepare its components in advance, which is the golden rule for a relaxed host.



OEUFS A LA NEIGE

(adapted from several sources)

for the creme anglaise
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch (optional)
1 + 1/2 cup boiling milk

for the meringue
4 egg whites
6 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

for the caramel glaze
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Thinly sliced almonds (optional)

Prepare the creme anglaise: beat the sugar and yolks with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until the color turns pale yellow and the texture becomes somewhat thick (ribbon stage). Beat in the cornstarch, if you decide to use it, and while still beating, slowly add the hot milk without scorching the egg yolks.
Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and warm over low heat, while constantly stirring. Don’t let it boil, but bring the temperature to 170F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pass it through a fine sieve to remove any bits of egg yolk that might ruin the texture of the creme anglaise. Put it in the fridge until ready to assemble the dessert.

Prepare the meringue:
Starting with egg whites at room temperature, beat them with the vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue beating at very high speed, until the peaks are all glossy and thick.
Heat water in a large skillet to 180F (at this point, the water will form bubbles on the edges). Using two tablespoons or an ice cream scoop, spoon mounds of meringue and gently dislodge them into the water. You can cook several at the same time, making sure that the water never boils. If it does the meringues will disintegrate. Cook them for 3-4 minutes per side, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with a soft cloth to drain any excess water. Reserve in the fridge.

When ready to assemble the dessert, add about 1/4 cup of creme anglaise to the serving dish and add 3 cooked meringues to the dish. Sprinkle on some almonds and glaze everything with streams of caramel, made as follows:

Add the sugar to a small saucepan, drizzle the water on top. Set the mixture over medium-low heat, and gently swirl the pan until the sugar dissolves. Then, increase the heat to high, cover the pan, and boil the caramel for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and continue boiling until the sugar turns amber. Place the bottom of the pan in cold water to rapidly cool it, and working quickly, dip a fork in the caramel and allow it to stream through the tines of the fork onto the  cooked meringue and almonds.

Serve immediately, or keep in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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