Saturday 27 March 2010

March 2008 - Chocolate Caramel Tart

I will play the game here and make a fuss about the lovely recipes in issue #69 and what I would have loved to have made and then I will move on to what, in reality, was going to be the only option for this blog post. There are a lot of lovely recipes in the issue, in fact I had marked a lot more recipes in this issue than I had in any of the others this month.

Jamie Oliver's recipes this month had a Mexican flavour to them. The Mexican-style barbecued corn in particular looked terrific. It was basically just corn cobs first boiled and then browned on barbecue and then sprinkled with paprika, cheese and lime juice. I think that they would have been very nice as part of a Mexican feast.

Every month there is a regular feature of Chef's Secrets. This month was Melbourne chef and writer Greg Malouf. His recipe was Grilled green-chilli quail with Turkish spoon salad. As part of the step by step Greg shows how to butterfly quails, which might come in handy if I can ever get some. The Turkish spoon salad is interesting. All the ingredients a cut up very finely and dressed with a combination of pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar, olive oil and Turkish red pepper paste. It sounds very good. I have pomegranate molasses so if I can get some of the red pepper paste I might give the salad a try at some stage.

There is a feature on Tobie Puttock before a new television series that he was making in Tuscany with wine-expert Matt Skinner. It features two great recipes. One for Pappa al Pomodoro (tomato & bread soup). I love tomato and bread soup. Although Tobie's recipe used canned tomatoes. When making tomato soups I much prefer to use fresh tomato as it is the star and I prefer to use the best I can get. Also canned tomatoes can taste slightly (just slightly) metallic at times. Although that could just be psychological. The other wonderful recipe was Porchetta with Salsa Verde. The picture accompanying the recipe looks terrific. However the recipe says that it will feed 10 - 12 people. I know that the recipe could probably be halved successfully but that would still make way too much for one person. I will have to leave it for some time when I am entertaining and try it out then.

Now that I have done my duty and pointed out all the wonderful recipes that I could have made, I will move on to the recipe that I did make. It was really the only recipe that I could make in all honesty. When you see something like Valli Little's Chocolate Caramel Tart staring out from the page at you I don't see how anyone wouldn't be compelled to make it.

It involved boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk to make the wonderful dulce de leche. The recipe gave instructions for boiling the can but, I guess for safety reasons, it wasn't the directions for the way I normally do it. It was suggested to put two small holes in the tin and put it in a pot with water to within a centimetre of the top of the tin. I remember trying to make it this way once in the past and it was a bit of a disaster. The water boiled up a couple of times and of course went in the holes in the can. Also since the water didn't cover the can completely the top portion of the milk in the can wasn't cooked so you had to scoop off a layer of watery milk to get to the caramel, yuck. So instead of following the recipe I just submerged the can in a large pot and simmered for 3 hours, topping up with water as necessary to keep it well covered. After the 3 hours I removed it from the pot and let it cool until it was able to be handled, then I opened it up and was rewarded with the most wonderful rich and thick dulce de leche.

I was unable to get the dark chocolate pastry that was recommended in the recipe. Valli did suggest that regular shortcrust pastry could be used but I thought that it would look much better with the dark chocolate so I googled and found a recipe from the wonderful Maggie Beer here. It was a bit hard to work with and I ended up pressing it into the tin as I couldn't roll it and move it without it breaking up but I was very pleased with the resultant pastry case.

I really enjoyed making this. It is incredibly rich and decadent and only very small pieces can be eaten at a time. I dusted it with cocoa and served it with cream mixed through the remaining caramel and strawberries. The strawberries really helped to cut through the richness and I would definitely recommend having them with it. I would highly recommend this as a dinner party dessert. It is easy to make ahead of time, just refrigerate and then remove before serving to bring back up to room temperature. It is also quite impressive looking but while it takes a bit of time to get all the parts made it is quite easy to make. The dulce de leche could be made several days ahead to make it even easier.

Chocolate Caramel Tart 1

Chocolate Caramel Tart 2

Chocolate Caramel Tart 3

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