You know the thing with baking? It can take you anywhere.
It always starts with an idea, and then it plays out and you never know where it’ll take you until you’ve completed the whole product. This isn’t always the case since baking is a science and everything happens according to plan if you follow a recipe, but if you’re creating something as you go, then it is interesting to see where an idea can take you.
A couple of Sundays ago, I had an idea in mind – I wanted to make a tart. I didn’t know exactly what tart to make but I knew I wanted to make a tart for sure. I played with the idea of making a raspberry chocolate tart because that is a flavour combination that I was familiar with and also had the ingredients for, but as the day went by, my ideas changed and this “Almost There Triple Caramel Tart” was born.
When I looked through my bags of chocolates, I saw a packet of white chocolate that was close to expiry and I wanted to make use of it. White chocolate isn’t my favourite flavour to eat because it is generally quite sweet but I knew I could make it into something more pleasant – caramelised white chocolate.
Caramelised white chocolate is obtained through slow baking white chocolates. You could also take this chance and infuse it with more vanilla flavour if you wish by mixing through some vanilla seeds and throwing in the vanilla bean as well. This whole process will take somewhere between 1.5-2 hours of roasting at roughly 125c. Throughout the process, the chocolate needs to be mixed and spread out from time to time. The result is this beautiful caramelised flavour and the sweetness of the white chocolate is reduced.
This all sounds good in theory but when I was executing it I faced into a problem – time. I had to bake the tart shells and bake a chicken for dinner that day so I didn’t have enough time to roast the white chocolates to perfection. So it is part 1 of ‘almost there’.
Since I couldn’t get enough caramel flavour from the chocolate (which I made to a ganache), I wanted to include a salted caramel in my tart. The thing with salted caramel is that the caramel needs to be dark enough to have that pleasant bitterness to it and a fragrant saltiness that comes after. With my caramel, I was too worried about actually burning it so I didn’t take it quite far enough, it was still quite sweet. I feel that I got the saltiness right, though. So it is part 2 of the ‘almost there’.
As for part 3 of the ‘almost there’ – it is my tart shells. You can see from the pictures above that my tart shells are quite pale in colour in most part, but brown at the tips. This is because I mistakenly put the oven temperature at 180c, causing the shells to brown quite fast without cooking through. Lesson learned though, 160-170c next time!
In the end though, I feel that I did something right. The tart turned out to be quite pleasant to eat if you have a sweet tooth. It had three components of caramel in it: salted caramel, caramelised white chocolate ganache and almond praline on top to add some crunch and actual burnt caramel flavour.
It was a good Sunday afternoon project which kept me busy and on my toes for a few hours, trying to fix problems after problems and I had loads of fun!