07 July 2014

{Guest Blog}: Chocolate & Fireworks

Morning! Chances are... I'm out riding my bike around Kiawah trying to bike 987234 miles while on vacation this week. But to entertain you while I'm vacationing, here's Becky with a post all about chocolate {yuck} and some fantastic fireworks pictures.

Hello Southern Twenty-Fivers!

It’s me, Becky, dropping in from Becky Goes Abroad once again, and today I’m hitting you with a double-whammy of a special post. Why double? Well, firstly, I will be writing about an event actually INSIDE the USA today, which is a rarity for me. Secondly, I’m bringing you all an absolutely stellar recipe featuring caramel, salt, and…chocolate.


Yes, chocolate—something you may never see again on this blog as Chesson doesn’t like it. Yeah, you read that right. I couldn’t believe it either back when I met her at the ripe old age of 7 or 8, I had never met ANYONE who didn’t love the stuff. To this day thinking about it still makes me sometimes question the foundation of our relationship…but somehow, we’ve managed to overcome this obstacle and remain close throughout the years.

Most of my own blog readers don’t know this, as it’s not really the focus of my writing there, but I am wholly and completely obsessed with food and cooking. More specifically, baking—I find most people are far more likely to try and enjoy a dessert than savory meals that may or may not be to their tastes. I once briefly ventured into the world of food blogging, but as it was during my college years I had to hold off due to a busy schedule. To the point, though, I use just about any excuse to test out new recipes, so when I saw this chocolate caramel tart decorated with fleur de sel, I knew it had to be the first tart I ever attempted. The Fourth of July seemed like the perfect opportunity to get it out there for a round of taste testing amongst my friends.


Things started off fairly well. I opted to make the caramel filling the night before to save time, and also to allow myself extra time in the event that I screwed up my first-ever batch of the stuff. But, praise be to the gods of sugar, (and the very simple recipe) I burned nothing and the caramel turned the perfect dark shade of amber after a bit longer than the recipe predicted. I was elated! So the morning of the 4th of July I began the much simpler seeming task of attacking the shortbread-like crust. The dough came together quickly, I patted it into a disk on cling wrap as advised and left it to chill in the refrigerator. When I pulled it out to begin rolling it to cover my tart tin, all seemed to be going well, but I noticed it was a bit dry, and was extra sure to try to keep it from tearing…

But that caution could only take me so far once I had to transfer the now much-thinner layer to the tin. I thought I’d be smart and loosen the edges, then pick it up with two spatulas…but no dice. The entire thing broke and crumbled into dozens of pieces—the dough is just too dry. So I gritted my teeth, re-rolled into a slightly thicker layer, and tried again…only to once again fail.  However, I at least made it OVER the tin this time, and just went ahead and squished and pressed all the bits and pieces together to make a useable, however ugly, crust. (Your mouth doesn’t have eyes to see what’s pretty or not, right?)


From there, all was smooth sailing. After the appropriate chill time, I aerated and blind-baked the crust with dried beans, poured in the caramel filling, and let it set and chill.  In the meantime, I chopped up some Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate and covered it in boiled heavy cream, stirring it all into a smooth, chocolate-y ganache that became my final layer.  Personally, I didn’t have any fancy-shmancy fleur de sel on hand, so I improvised with ground sea salt.


At the barbecue I attended, the tart was a hit. My caramel layer seemed a bit firmer than that of the original creator’s, but I thought that was an asset as it was easier to serve and eat. The hit of salt right on all that sweet caramel and chocolate is absolutely divine, and despite the temperamental crust I can guarantee you this is one dessert that will be receiving an encore in my kitchen!


So how does one finish a Fourth of July with such high standards for enjoyment set early on? Why, with a stellar fireworks show of course!  My town in central Indiana has an annual show in our local park that never disappoints—just about half of the town will crowd onto the fields and pathways, set up blankets and chairs, and spend a great evening talking to friends, eating kettle corn and hotdogs, and waiting for night to fall and the fireworks to begin.


…And of course, if you’re young and have a nose for trouble as I do, you will usually have your own supply of fireworks for an after-party with friends.  My friends and I chose to play with sparklers this year, per my demands, so that I could experiment with my camera. With much messing around we managed to produce some pretty cool shots with writing and pictures, and even the one below, in which yours truly seems to be standing under a rather oversized halo.


I hope you all had an equally pleasant 4th with your own family and friends! If you’d like to attempt this simple chocolate caramel tart yourself, or read more about its history from a truly knowledgeable source, click here 

Until next time!

-Becky

2 comments:

  1. how does chesson not like chocolate?!?!?!

    i love that halo!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That torte sounds delicious! I love the sparkler photo such a cute idea.

    ReplyDelete

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