Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Caramel Crunched Tart

I should start by saying that there have been far, far more TWD desserts that I expected not to enjoy, but ended up loving, than there have been desserts that I expected to love but did not. I will also say that when I affirmatively do not like a Dorie Greenspan dessert, and cannot explain that dislike purely by personal taste (see, e.g. custard, flan), I assume that I made an error. Usually I can identify the error, but in the case of this week's Tuesdays With Dorie dessert, Chocolate Caramel Crunched Tart, I cannot. But since most of the TWD universe heard angels sing upon tasting this dessert, and I was most disappointed, I can only conclude that I messed something up somewhere.


I cut most of the recipe down to make one 4" tart, but I made a full batch of the caramel because I had visions of my non-chocolate-eating husband enjoying the leftovers over vanilla ice cream. And he might have, if we owned a jackhammer. I had one previous run-in with caramel that, um, did not go well, so I was nervous going in. In fact, when my husband asked me that Saturday morning what I had on the agenda for the day, I told him that I was totally flexible for most of the day, but that at 1:00, I needed to concentrate on caramel completely, and would be most appreciative if the children were out of the kitchen (out of the house = even better). He totally wrangled the kids during the appointed time, and I had zen-like focus on the caramel. It seemed to go fine. The temperature was right. The color was right.


But the caramel was so, so wrong. It was spreadable at first, but once it cooled, it became rock hard, and I found the flavor to be on the bitter side. Not at all the smooth, luxurious caramel I had been hoping for. The caramel was very hard to break through without a knife (or with a knife, for that matter), and the ganache did not seem to be properly set. While this screams "company dessert!" on paper, I would not serve it to company unless Dorie herself were in the kitchen making it with me, because I don't want to have to raid my toolbox for proper dessert utensils (wire cutters? needlenose pliers?) nor do I like to ask my dinner guests to sign a waiver before biting into my dessert affirming that they have not had any recent dental work.

Carla of Chocolate Moosey chose this tart. It is obviously wonderful in just about everybody else's hands, so head on over to Carla's website for the recipe!

35 comments:

Megan said...

Fortunately mine wasn't hard - just bitter.

I really wish I had scaled this one down, because it ended up in the circular file (trash can!).

Oh well - next weeks' dessert is really good.

Heather said...

ugh. i can't make caramel either. it's soooo embarrassing! luckily, they sell it in stores ;) your tart looks delicious! did the ganache at least taste good??

jillbert said...

Bummer! My caramel worked out but my ganache was less-than-successful. Oh well, there's always next Tuesday!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

So sorry this didn't work for you, it looks so promising. I used a nonstick frying pan, don't know if that has any advantages over the cast iron version.

Well, at least you're the right person to draft the appropriate waiver, even if the task of getting it executed might be a bit distasteful.

Oh dear, and pudding is next on the agenda. Well we know the month improves with the muffins, biscuits and torte, right?

vibi said...

I'm so sorry this didn't turn out for you.

I must admit though... I think indeed, something went wrong. Bitterness obviously means the caramel was too cooked (uh hum. burnt, would be the word)

I too, used to burn all candies I tried making until I got a thermometer... soft ball stage would have been around 225°F, at which point you would have taken it off the heat to add the butter, the sirup and the hot cream (yours probably went close or even higher than hard ball stage, that's why it hardened). Seriously... if your bubie's not a chocolate eater... then get a candy thermometer!!! You'll see... it's as easy as pie after that and you'll become the Caramel Queen of your domaine! (or any candy queen for that matter!)

The finished product though looks amazing, especially that rustic traditional looking crust!!!

Maria said...

Sorry! I haven't tried this one yet. It still looks good!

Rachel said...

I didn't like the taste of the caramel alone. But I think it was perfect with the tart and chocolate. First time visiting your site. I like it!

SUGAR B said...

Ugh, what a bummer about the caramel! What a supportive husband . . wrangling the kids during your caramel making. That is awesome.

I ended up making cupcakes with the recipe. :)

Leslie said...

Oh, Cathy, I'm so disappointed for you. I know how you feel about caramel (in fact, I wrote a post on it recently http://lethallydelicious.blogspot.com/2009/09/hitting-sauce.html). The fact that it was suitable for paving material and very bitter probably means it got too hot. I would put it behind me and not look back. You have so many fabulous successes that one teeny little disappointment can't change what a great cook and baker you are. Plus you gave David important daddy time with the kids. Quite a sacrifice you made, huh?

pinkstripes said...

Oh no! Too bad the caramel didn't work out for you...at least you didn't break the sink this time.

natalia said...

Ciao ! I'm so sorry you it didn't work for you ! I was afraid I wouldn't have liked it and I'm still dreaming about it !!

Flourchild said...

Sorry about the caramel not working out for you. I burnt my finger on it if that makes you feel better!

I enjoyed this recipe and I think my dinner guests did too!

Jeannette said...

hm... maybe you cooked it a TAD too long and didn't add enough cream or butter? i cooked mine a bit too long and it was a bit harder than gooey. still cut-able though. there's always a second try :)

Kim said...

So sorry it didn't work out for you. I can see how rock hard caramel would kind of ruin the dessert. It is always a bummer when you spend time on something and it doesn't come out well. Better luck next week.

bakingwiththeboys said...

While I am sure you would have no difficulty drafting up a quick little waiver, best not to scare the guests at the outset of the evening. Next time maybe you should sneak in some of your Smuckers topping stash. Who would be the wiser? Better luck next week!

myfamousrecipe said...

Caramel is such a mystery! When it works out, I think, "Yes, I've mastered it!" When it doesn't, I'm baffled all over again. But it's so delicious, we have to keep trying....

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I am so sorry it didn't work out. Onwards and upwards! Can't wait to see what you make next week!

Karen said...

Ha! I had the exact same problem! It tasted good but it could break your teeth! Bummer that it didn't work out quite how you wanted it to.

mike said...

Cathy, so sorry it didn't work for you - if you get a chance (and want to) - email me and I'll send you my foolproof caramel directions (I got off of an old Julia Child episode). It takes all the terror out of it! But the end result LOOKS great! That's half the struggle! Plus, there's the learning experience you know. :) Nice effort!

Kayte said...

Hmmm...what could have gone wrong here? Like I would even know. You need to come over and make caramel as I think I have it down now between Whisk and TWD I have made a lot of caramel. Surely D will watch the kids while you pop over, right? Just don't ask me to make a bundt cake or get the tart crust right as that isn't happening anytime soon.

Mary Ann said...

So sorry! This one really seemed like a winner. The caramel is soo tricky though. You don't want to overdo it or under cook it, so I always have a little stress session.
I love that you put caramel making into your agenda and that your hubby took care of the kids. That is so great!

Jules Someone said...

Bummer that it didn't work! I didn't even attempt the caramel.

LyB said...

I'm so, so sorry this didn't go well for you. It's one of my fave Dorie recipes so far, I had to get it out of the house, it was so dangerous! I think the deal with caramel, is not to let it cook past a light, amber color. Especially in this case with the dry method, it keeps cooking once off the heat so I never follow the instructions to let it get dark, it just burns on me. Hope you try this again at some point, it is worth it. :)

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm scared of caramel and candy. I know I'd screw it up.

Debinhawaii said...

Bummer it didn't turn out for you--it certainly looks delicious. Caramel can be difficult sometimes.

TeaLady said...

I am so sorry this didn't work out for you.

I was expecting my caramel to fail and was ecstatic when it actually worked out right. Keep trying the caramel because it is eat with a spoon good.

AmyRuth said...

Woops... sorry about the unhappy sugar experience. Darn it! I know all the bread making skills and cooking skills and baking skills somewhere there are carmel making skills hiding in there. Find yourself a sweet little old southern lady who makes candy during the holidays, invite yourself over to her kitchen to watch her make toffee or caramels or any kind of burning sugar extravaganza. You'll definitely get it. I'm sure. Not so scary at all he he. I know how you fell about expectations though. You are a wise woman. You tart shines even without a release.
AmyRuth

Di said...

I'm sorry that your caramel didn't behave itself. Fortunately, I've never had the hard-as-a-rock problem. Overflowed all over the stovetop, yes. =) I hope you'll give this one another try sometime, though. It really was good.

Pamela said...

Well...here I am again! Late, reading all the blogs. I'm so sorry you didn't like this one. I made the caramel twice, and the 2nd time gave me a less bitter caramel. Thank goodness for that! I made a single tart, too and ate it all by myself. (Shhh!) Anyway, sorry it didn't work out. Keep up the great work, though!

The Blonde Duck said...

I just wanted to say happy tuesday!

Tracey said...

Hey, at least I'm only a week late with this comment.... So sorry! What a nice hubs to keep the kids out of the kitchen while you worked on the caramel. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. I have a ton of trouble with caramel too but surprisingly Dorie's version worked out for me. Isn't it a bummer when you have high expectations for a recipe and it lets you down? Same thing happened to me with the apple turnovers a few weeks ago.

La Pastry Chef said...

Hi Cathy,

Caramel can be really tricky to make even when you've made it before and know what you're doing! Your tart still looks lovely :)

Katrina said...

I'm so behind on blogs. But anyway, here I am.
My caramel turned out like Sugar Daddy candy. Also too hard. Annoying because I followed Dorie's instrudtions exactly. But the tart was eaten, it just tasted more like Christmas toffee.

And where are you now? ;)

Pam said...

What a bummer. I've never made caramel before but I heard it was difficult.

Sweet and Savory said...

Reading the posts, it does not look like you are alone in haviing difficulties with the recipe. For a recipe that caused your problems, it looks great. We all have to have a less than perfect bake, once in a while. I had two this week. That is my quota for a long time.

 
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