Daring Bakers in August: Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

August 29, 2007 at 4:56 pm | Posted in daring bakers, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things | 49 Comments

milk chocolate and caramel tarts

I was just a lil’ bit excited to see that for this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge, our co-hosts Veronica and Patricia chose a milk chocolate and caramel tart from Eric Kayser’s book Sweet and Savory Tarts.  Not only do I love chocolate and caramel (who doesn’t, really?), I love making tarts, especially when they have a few different components like this one.  And, although we were warned from the get-go that the directions were sparse and we’d have to read between the lines, at least there would be no fiddling around with agar-agar like last time

The first part of the recipe to tackle was the pastry dough.  The recipe described it as a “chocolate shortbread pastry,” flavored with cocoa powder, ground hazelnuts and cinnamon.  Some bakers who tried out the recipe early in the month found the cinnamon to be overwhelming, and it was later deemed optional by the Veronica and Patricia.  I followed these bakers’ advice and opted out of the cinnamon in my batch.  I chose to make my dough in the KitchenAid (with the paddle attachment), rather than in the food processor.  It just seemed less messy, and came together easily in the mixer.

After my dough had an overnight rest in the fridge, I found it to be quite malleable and very easy to work with.  The dough really didn’t resemble shortbread though, and neither the finished product, but it did bake up nice and crisp.  I decided to go the mini route and used my 3.5″ fluted tartlette pans to form the shells.  I docked them well and blind baked them with beans, thanks to the advice of those bakers who had made the recipe early on.  Even though they were small, my shells did take several minutes longer to bake than the recipe stated.  And I had to be more careful than I would have liked removing the parchment and beans from the baked shells, because the dough wanted badly to stick to the parchment.  With a little patience though, everything was fine.  I made eight little tartlettes and put the extra unbaked dough in the freezer for another time.

The next step was to make the caramel layer hidden in the middle of the tart.  I must admit here that I only made a half-batch of caramel, since I didn’t make the big 10″ tart.  R and I can’t finish a whole tart ourselves, but I promise I was true to the ingredients, techniques and proportions.  Our co-hosts did give us a choice when it came to the caramel: while the recipe called for using the dry technique, we could switch that to a wet caramel if we were more confident with the wet method.  I have actually made an unusual amount of caramel sauce in my time, and am comfortable with both ways, so I went ahead with the dry version before adding butter and cream.  I took it to the edge of dark-but-not-burned, so it would be a bit more flavorful and wouldn’t cause a toothache in combination with the milk chocolate.  (To make a dry caramel, I add the sugar in stages, starting with just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  When that melts and begins to color, I add a little more.) To the cooled caramel base, eggs and flour were added so it would set up into a soft but firm candy-like layer in the oven, rather than remain an oozy sauce.

Once again, the caramel in my little tarts had to spend about five minutes longer in the oven than the recipe stated to set up.  I baked them until the caramel looked well set around the edges and was no longer jiggly in the center.  After cooling down on the counter for about 30 minutes, I popped them in the fridge to thoroughly set for a few hours and charged on with the caramel decorations.

I was hoping to do sugar curls or something fun, but I made this recipe during a patch of rainy days here in Sydney.  Humidity and sugarwork are archenemies, so my experiments were just a sticky mess.  I resorted to the basic caramel fragments suggested in the recipe, but even they stuck together in little clumps after I broke them up.  I liked them though…they looked like sparkly jewels.

milk chocolate and caramel tarts

For the last step before decoration (and eating!), I made the “chocolate mousse” layer.  It was just melted milk chocolate folded together with whipped cream.  I just had to be sure to let the chocolate cool to about body temperature before combining, so it wouldn’t melt the cream.  I used Green & Black’s organic milk chocolate.  They claim to use more cocoa solids than other brands, making it a “darker” milk chocolate.  I had never tried it, but as a dark chocolate freak, I was interested in finding something a little less sweet.  As luck would have it, it was also on sale!

milk chocolate and caramel tarts

Eight mini tarts equals four days of dessert for R and me, so I made scaled back amounts of the mousse as well…just enough to fill two each day.  After piling on the mousse and letting the tarts chill for a bit, it was time to decorate and try.  Boy, were they good…almost like a candy bar, but not too sweet.  I tried to get fairly equal layers of caramel and chocolate, and was really surprised by how nicely the tarts cut.  All in all, I’d say this one’s a keeper, and it wasn’t even too complicated– thanks Veronica and Patricia!  I am interested in trying it with dark chocolate though…

You can find the recipe here or here.  If you’re nosey like I am, check out the Daring Bakers’ Blogroll to see how everyone else attacked this month’s challenge!

DB whisk


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  1. I too am interested in trying it with dark chocolate! Great job on the DB challenge.

  2. Your photos make it looks SO appealing!

  3. Oh, that looks great! I love the minis! And the layers are so thick – beautiful!

  4. Yeah, I think it would taste far, far better with Dark Chocolate. Having said that however, it was still a very sinfully tasty dessert! Good job and your tarts really look lovely!

  5. Your tart looks fantastic. You always have such lovely photos.

    I had the same problem with the pastry sticking during the blind baking process. It all worked out though.

  6. I’m not even into chocolate and my I’m drooling on my keyboard! Good job on scaling it back for a two-person household, I often have the “too much of a good thing” issue.

  7. Lovely tart and lovely pics as well. So cute and I love how you nicely layered it 🙂

  8. Cutesy sugar jewels! Love the looks of them. Now I’ve seen so many DB tarts I’m fairly sure I should have just made bigger layers. Looking good!

  9. These are so adorable!! Well done on a great challenge!

  10. Your tart looks absolutely perfect! I think the darker the color of the caramel the more flavor it has. And your caramel decorations do look like jewels!

  11. I really need to get myself some mini pans – those are ADORABLE. Great job!

  12. Wow! The little tarts look so pretty! And you are right, the caramel pieces on top do look just like jewels…like little sparkling citrines or dollops of amber…just beautiful. 🙂

  13. I like the first photo with the bits of caramel scattered around like stardust. Beautiful job!

  14. I love the mini tarts! They turned out beautiful, and I love the decorations!

  15. The first thing I thought of when I saw you sugar was – lil amber colored sugar snowflakes! I love them! =)

    Your wee tarts are just beautiful – and you reminded me that I’ve got more dough in the freezer – doh! I want to try with dark chocolate as well.. and baking the filling longer so it gets nice and firm and pretty like yours =)

    Way to go!!


  16. Your mini tarts look adorable, Steph – and the decoration is beautiful too!

  17. Your mini tart is so adorable! The color of your caramel is lovely.

  18. Looks wonderful! I’ve made a chocolate mousse using only whipped cream and dark chocolate before and it tasted delicious I think it would work really well with this tart but maybe make it just too rich… Who knows – have to give it a try to find out.

  19. Your sugar topping really does look like little jewels, very nice!

  20. I love how your mousse swirls around on top. That third pic is to die for!

  21. You did a tremendous job! Your tarts are just gorgeous.

  22. What a beautiful tart! I love it.

  23. I love the little tarts. I ended up cutting mine into small squares as I knew from tasting the components it was going to be rich. I wish I’d thought of Green and Black chocolate, thats a great idea. You should try their almond one… Mmm! Thank you for explaining why I couldn’t accomplish fun stuff with my sugar decorations, I am in Sydney and had the same issue. Maybe we were making this on the same day! I didn’t realise humidy would affect it. Makes sense. Well done, your tarts look fab!

  24. Such a pretty cross-section! I love the little tartlets; they must have been so convenient for sharing.

  25. LOVE the sparkly jewels of the sugar shards! And I also like the tartlets.

  26. Your tart definitely looks like a tiny jewelbox. Sooo appealing!

    Love xxx
    – fanny

  27. great job on the challenge! your tarts are so pretty

  28. beautiful! Has Valli called it droolworthy yet?

  29. Love the beautifully even layers you made. It looks divine!

  30. Ooooh, they look so cute Steph! When I make things like these, my colleagues get to enjoy the results. When I’m done baking I usually don’t feel like eating it any more, and S usually doesn’t like the things I make…

  31. Great job on DB! The pictures are lovely!

  32. The the caramel decorations, like amber jewelry! Great job, but I did ot expect less from such a fine baker!

  33. How lovely and sweet your tarts look. Your sugar decorations are so golden in color – how did you manage to get them so light and yet still so golden?

  34. Gorgeous mini tarts! I’m admiring the nice thick layers of both fillings :D.

  35. Love your baby tarts! Cute!

  36. looks wonderful! your pictures are so tantalizing!

  37. I love tartlets! Yours look absolutely perfect, love the color of your caramel and crust.

  38. Your mini tarts are so cute. I love how thick your caramel layer is.

  39. I love your photos. Your tart looks divine and I love the little clusters of caramel-they are like jewelry. Wendy

  40. Ohhhhh, you made individual little tarts, how lovely.

  41. Oh my goodness just look at the thickness and richness of that caramel. Wow. Wish I’d made some mini’s they do so neatly!
    You surely got beautiful tart!

  42. I love the mini tarts!

  43. That picture of the sliced tart is nearly making me faint! Amazing work.

  44. Beautiful photo, I want to grab a fork and join you for a cup of coffee and a bite of this delicious dessert.

    Bravo on a gorgeous creation!

  45. Apologies for the late commentary… each month it takes me a little longer to get around and lok at everyone’s contribution. Your tarts are gorgeous… I love the ‘gold flake’ caramel you used to decorate them.

  46. This looks wonderful steph, your layers are in perfect proportion and your tart base is not too thick, I have joined DB and this month will be my first challange and I can wait to complete it and see how everyone else does.. Thanks for the comment on my blog.

  47. Oh wow, I think I have died and gone to tart heaven LOL – they look so delicious, I can ALMOST taste them…it isn’t fun licking my computer monitor :S Luv, Sammi

  48. Your little tarts are so lovely!! Great job on this month’s challenge!!

  49. Yous cupcake decorations are pleasing and wonderfully done !
    I would like to visit your site often to get fresh and innovative ideas. Have recently developed interest in sugarcraft and always look forward to browse new sites for creativity. I do request you to visit my site and critique me by adding some comments !

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