Week 77: Milk chocolate and salted caramel tarts

I have been on a quest to master a sweet shortcrust pastry. Many months later, I am still on it! I appreciate a good tart as much as the next person. And while the filling of this one is pretty bombastic, the crust, well, the crust is ordinary. Not bad, just ordinary. Plus, it looks like I need a lot more practice in lining tart rings, as the work I have done here is elementary at best. This crust recipe makes A LOT of shortcrust pastry. Which is good as I needed the practice. But the filling here is about enough for 4, maybe 5 tartlets. But as I only have 4 tart shells, I found, ahem, other ways to use up the filling.

Honeyed salted chopped peanuts

Salted caramel sauce

For the shortcrust pastry

125g powdered sugar

250g unsalted butter

3 large eggs

500g cake flour

½ tsp baking powder

1) In a mixer cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

2) Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.

3) Add cake flour and baking soda all at once.

4) Mix slow just to combine.

5) Wrap dough and refrigerate until firm.

6) Roll out dough to a 1/4″ thick. Line the individual tart rings.

7) Blind bake 10-12 minutes at 175C. Then remove coverings and bake for another 10-12 minutes until browned around the edges.

8) Let cool then sprinkle with honeyed peanuts then fill with salted caramel sauce generously.

For the cream cheese mousse

60g cold whipping cream

58g cream cheese, at room temperature

7g fine granulated sugar

¼ tsp pure vanilla extract

1) Whisk cold whipping cream until just stiff peaks form. Scoop into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

2) Using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

3) Add the vanilla extract, then, use the whisk attachment to whisk until light and fluffy.

4) Pour cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream, and fold until well-mixed.

5) Scoop cream cheese mouse into tartlets, fully covering the peanuts and salted caramel sauce. Refrigerate while preparing pastry cream.

For the chocolate pastry cream

120g whole milk

1 large egg yolk

19g fine granulated sugar

6g corn flour

20g dark chocolate couverture, chopped

43g milk chocolate couverture, chopped

10g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) Pour milk into a saucepan and heat until little bubbles started forming around the edge of the saucepan.

2) Whisk together the egg yolk with sugar and corn flour.

3) Carefully pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Then, pour mixture back into saucepan.

4) Put saucepan back on low heat and heat until mixture thickens. Do not let it boil.

5) Pour hot cream onto chopped chocolate, let sit for a minute, then fold until chocolate and cream is well mixed.

6) Add the unsalted butter to the chocolate cream and stir until butter is melted.

7) Pour chocolate pastry cream onto tartlets covering the cream cheese entirely.

For the Swiss meringue

60g egg whites

60g fine granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1) Whisk egg whites and sugar on the bowl placed on top of a water bath until sugar is melted. Feel this with your fingers to ensure there is no sandy feel.

2) Using a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until the bowl feels cool to the touch.

3) Scoop egg whites into a piping bag with a open star tip.

4) Pipe meringue kisses onto the chocolate pastry cream, covering the entire surface.

5) Using a blow torch, lightly burn the meringue surface.

I should have probably added more sugar (another 40g) to the meringue but I did not want it to be too sweet. As a result, I did not manage to get the smooth tips I would otherwise have gotten with the extra sugar. But, I do love the taste. If I were to tweak this, I would use dark chocolate in its entirety for the pastry cream, and I would be more generous with the salted caramel sauce. This is a good flavour combination and I love the crunch from the peanuts,


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