It started with watching too much Great British Bake Off.
I like to have something playing in the background while I cook and do dishes, and, well, Series 6 was fun and it had been a while since I’d watched Series 2. As a Canadian I probably shouldn’t be this in love with the program, but I adore baking and shows with contestants who aren’t douchecanoes*.
It was after watching the last half of Series 6 and the first 5 episodes of Series 2 that I decided I was up for the challenge of making a Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart.
The recipe had been torn out of a magazine, taped in a cooking book, and ignored for a few years**. However, since I was now able to make pie (something I only attempted after many years of avoiding it like the plague) I figured I was up to making a tart. The ingredients weren’t anything crazy, and it didn’t require me buying some weird ingredient that I would never use again and would sit in my fridge until way past it’s due date.
I almost recanted, but once you’ve make the crust there’s no going back. There’s no point in letting a crust go to waste, so you might as well make the toppings. The crust was a bit crumbly, so I went outside of the recipe and added a bit of cold water to it to make it more pliable. Pressing it into a pan was another matter, but I figured that nobody was going to see all those finger-shaped indents anyway.
Also, I’ve never blind-baked anything. I didn’t have any of those bean-things that they use in the show. I did have a bit of rice from a failed attempt to make brown-rice-tea, so I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to bake that. I didn’t have a lot of rice, but at least I tried. Did it work? Well, nothing exploded, so I consider that a win.
The caramel was the funnest part***. At one point I found myself thinking “I’m making caramel from scratch. What the hell is wrong with me?”. I did this as I was watching GBBO S2E6 (aka the Croquembouche episode). I was stirring the water and sugar to make sure that the sugar was dissolved, but it wasn’t turning a light amber like the recipe said it would. Then I heard Paul and Mary tell Mary-Anne that her caramel had crystallized because she had stirred it. I immediately put down the spoon.
In my defence, the recipe didn’t say to not stir it. It didn’t say anything about stirring – for or against. How was a non-caramel-maker to know?
My second caramel faux-pas happened when I was supposed to add the cream and salt. I took the caramel off the damper (so that it wouldn’t burn), but then it started to thicken up, so I had to put it back on the damper (which had been turned off but still had heat) and hope that it would melt again. It did.
See – don’t forget your pencil! That recipe now has very specific instructions regarding caramel written in.
Then it was time to make the chocolate part. This was quite uneventful after the caramel-drama. If I had to go back, I would not include salt in the chocolate part, because there was more than enough in the caramel for the whole thing. Then again, maybe I was supposed to use chunky salt instead of ground salt…
The recipe said to fridge it for 2 hours before serving, but I’d give it at least a day. The day-later piece tasted less salty than the 2-hour-later piece.
I also made a note about putting less cream in the caramel. That stuff, while delicious, barely set. When I cut a piece the caramel oozed out and threatened to overflow from the tray. My solution was the prop one side up so that the caramel oozed back towards the tart. It’s been in the fridge for days and it’s still oozing. Caramel is a tricky mistress.
Also maybe I’d use milk chocolate instead of 70% dark chocolate, but that’s purely a personal preference.
Now it’s time to put away the GBBO before I decide to do something even more mental, like attempt choux pastry.
*they help each other whenever someone needs an extra hand!
**that’s how I roll.
***no it wasn’t.