Daring Bakers: Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

Milk chocolate and caramel tart decorated with caramel containing ground hazelnuts

This is my second month as a member of the amazing Daring Bakers. The Daring bakers consist of proud women and men that love to bake and are not afraid of baking challenges. The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly without any modifications. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day, this time on the 29th of August. This month’s challenge was a Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart consisting of a pastry with hazelnuts, cocoa and cinnamon which was filled with caramel mixture and then milk chocolate mousse topped with pieces of caramel. The recipe was picked by Veronica and Patricia.

How it all went:
I love the beginning of every month as that is when the new Daring Bakers challenge is presented. I always get enthusiastic, thinking a lot about the recipe. This time I was looking forward to bake the tart, as always, but the days passed by and I baked all sorts of cakes and cookies instead of the challenge. Eventually the month end was getting closer and last Sunday evening I finally made the dough. On Monday evening after work I made the caramel filling, which started really fine using the dry method when melting the caster sugar. I was pretty scared though, as I got a really nasty burn when making sugar candies many years ago. When I added the room temperatured cream to the melted sugar I instantly got a hard sugar layer on top of the cream. I was sure that everything would just explode in my face as the cream beneath the sugar started to simmer. I tried to calm down and started stirring the hard sugar and cream on a low temperature until I finally managed the sugar to melt again. After baking the filling in the oven I noticed that the filling was way too loose, so I had it in the oven for an additional 8 or even 10 minutes. It was still very wobbly when I took it out but I thought that it would set fine after being refrigerated (but it didn’t set completely. I still don’t know if it’s the fan ovens fault or what I did wrong). As the caramel filling was cooling, I made the caramel for the decoration. Anne had mentioned that hazelnuts made the creation less sweet so I added some ground hazelnuts and the sugar came out very well and I managed not to burn myself. Then I started on the chocolate mousse. I melted my chocolate in the micro wave and let it cool a bit. I stirred it every now and then when I suddenly noticed that it was starting to stiffen even though it was still quite warm. So I took the stupid decision to combine it with the whipped cream, which of course kind of separated from the heat. Maybe separated it the wrong word, but it looked a bit weird. I had no problems with putting the mousse on top of the caramel filling and left the cake in the fridge until Tuesday evening when I decorated the cake with the burnt sugar and finally served it to Fredrik and a friend. And today Wednesday I’m writing the post :-)

The tart is absolutely too sweet. Although my “jury” agreed on that the tart would be pretty good if cut in really small pieces and served with strong coffee.The milk chocolate mousse set very nicely but was way too sweet even if I tried hard with finding a not too sweet and yet not over priced milk chocolate. And also as I wrote earlier it kind of separated. I thought that the caramel filling would get firmer after spending almost 24 hours in the fridge, but it was quite loose and you definetly can’t hold up a piece of the cake with a fork in the caramel filling, like on the original photo which was provided when the Daring Bakers received the recipe.

Lessons learned (nb that some of these lessons should have been learned already last month):
1. Don’t start baking too late in the evening.
2. Bake the cake on a weekend and not in the evening after work.
3. Make sure to use milk chocolate that isn’t too sweet.
4. Don’t be cocky and think that it’s easy peasy, there are always things that can go wrong when baking a cake with so many parts.
5. Sometimes room temperatured ingredients just are not enough. In the case with the caramel filling I should have heated the cream before pouring it on the melted sugar.
6. You can’t always succeed :-)

Will I do this tart again?
Probably some day in the future, with a few modifications though; at least a less sweet chocolate and less cinnamon.

To see how the other Daring Bakers managed the challenge, check out our blog roll.

    Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
    (The August challenge for the Daring Bakers. Source: Sweet and Savory tarts by Eric Kayser)

    Preparation time: 40 minutes
    Baking Time: 30 minutes
    Refrigeration time: 1 hour
    One 9-inch(24-cm) square pan; 1 10-inch (26-cm) round baking pan

    ½ lb (250 g) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe below)
    1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
    1 cup (250 g) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche
    ¼ cup (50 g) butter
    2 whole eggs
    1 egg yolk
    2 ½ tablespoons (15 g) flour
    1 ¼ cups (300 g) whipping cream
    ½ lb (250 g) milk chocolate

    1. Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).
    2. Line the baking pan with the chocolate shortbread pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes.
    3. In a saucepan, caramelize 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar using the dry method until it turns a golden caramel color. Incorporate the heavy cream or crème fraiche and then add butter. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.
    4. In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs with the extra egg yolk, then incorporate the flour.
    5. Pour this into the cream-caramel mixture and mix thoroughly.
    6. Spread it out in the tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
    7. Prepare the milk chocolate mousse: beat the whipping cream until stiff. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie, and fold it gently into the whipped cream.
    8. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.

    To decorate: melt ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar in a saucepan until it reaches an amber color. Pour it onto waxed paper laid out on a flat surface. Leave to cool. Break it into small fragments and stick them lightly into the top of the tart.

    Chocolate Shortbread Pastry

    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Refrigeration :overnight
    To make 3 tarts, 9 ½ inches (24 cm) square
    or 10 inches (26 cm round)

    1 cup (250g ) unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
    ½ cup (50 g) ground hazelnuts
    2 level teaspoons (5 g) ground cinnamon
    2 eggs
    4 ½ cups (400 g) cake flour
    2 ½ teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
    1 ½ tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder

    A day ahead
    1. In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter.
    2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon, and mix together
    3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly
    4. Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and mix well.
    5. Form a ball with the dough, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

42 Responses to “Daring Bakers: Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart”

  1. Sara
    August 29th, 2007 22:09

    It looks wonderful! I cooked my caramel for twice the time in the oven and it was still quite soft.

  2. Meeta
    August 29th, 2007 22:31

    Small pieces is the way to go with this one. Nice one Dagmar. Was waiting for yours!!

  3. Jen
    August 29th, 2007 22:35

    Your tart looks really nice Dagmar! I especially like your tips! Good Job!

  4. Lolotte
    August 29th, 2007 22:41

    What a wonderfool look for your tart! How do you know when the new theme is announced? I went to the blog to check but could not find anything else but a subscription…

  5. Pille
    August 29th, 2007 22:42

    I think it looks beautiful – nice and neat layers! And yes, we realised the cake freezes nicely – makes a lovely ice cream cake :)

  6. Qaly
    August 29th, 2007 22:49


  7. Dolores
    August 29th, 2007 22:57

    I think you’re two for two Dagmar; I love the stories you tell around your experience with the daring baker challenges… even when the final product disappoints.

    I’m certainly going to keep your lesson learned #2 in mind as I tackle my (belated) tart!

  8. Deborah
    August 29th, 2007 23:22

    Your cake is beautiful! I only cooked my caramel layer the 15 minutes called for, but it seems like the people that came out with a firm layer cooked it twice as long.

  9. Anne
    August 29th, 2007 23:36

    I think you did a great job! Putting ground hazelnuts in the caramel shards was a brilliant idea – I’m feeling hungry just thinking about that.

  10. brilynn
    August 29th, 2007 23:58

    I like your caramel bit topping!

  11. Fabienne
    August 30th, 2007 00:01

    J’adore ces piques de caramel …

  12. Elle
    August 30th, 2007 00:10

    Very pretty tart! I like your tips and that you added ground hazelnuts to the sugar topping. It really was sweet. Your caramel layer looks nicely gooey to me, but I like it that way. Great job!

  13. Mary
    August 30th, 2007 00:25

    I also had to bake my caramel extra long in the oven. I share your enthusiasm at the beginning of each month. I’m always dying to what the next challenge will be!

  14. Andrea
    August 30th, 2007 00:34

    Oooh, I like your idea for adding the hazelnuts on top. Lovely!

  15. Jen the bread freak
    August 30th, 2007 01:12

    I think your tart is lovely! I wish I’d thought to put hazelnuts in the caramel shards :D

  16. Anh
    August 30th, 2007 01:57

    Nice one… My tart is not overly sweet – probab gotto do with my tastebud. But I agree – this is so good with a cup of strong coffee. :)

  17. Wendy
    August 30th, 2007 02:16

    Dagmar – Your tart looks great. I agree is very sweet and you can’t rush caramel.

  18. Ivonne
    August 30th, 2007 04:12

    It’s like a beautiful field of caramel! Gorgeous!

  19. Lisa
    August 30th, 2007 04:14

    Way to go, Dagmar! I love your hazelnut/caramel shards.. YUM!


  20. Aoife
    August 30th, 2007 05:26

    I like the idea of referencing the hazelnuts again in the decoration. Your tart looks great, and I can even tell that the mousse is at all separated!

  21. Jenny
    August 30th, 2007 05:37

    I love your caramel shards – like little soldiers. It can be scary to overcome a fear when you’ve been injured in the past, so good for you!!

  22. Cusinero Ge
    August 30th, 2007 06:05

    Great job on the tart. Love how it looks, and I’m pretty sure it tastes spectacular too!

  23. Tartelette
    August 30th, 2007 07:47

    Great job! It looks gorgeous! I agree with you on the taste, we were not impressed either. I hear you on making it last minute. I waited until this past weekend too.

  24. Dharm
    August 30th, 2007 08:45

    I like how the layers show up so well and how you cut it so nicely. Well done and it really looks great!

  25. fanny
    August 30th, 2007 11:17

    Your tart looks good enough for me Dagmar!

    Love xxx
    - fanny

  26. ilva
    August 30th, 2007 12:27

    I totally agree with agree with Fanny, it looks GOOD!

  27. Laurie
    August 30th, 2007 15:17

    Your tart looks great and I love your caramel pieces. Mine came out thick as well and so yummy like brittle. Well done! xo

  28. maria~
    August 30th, 2007 19:03

    I love your unique twist of flavoring the caramel with ground hazelnuts! I should’ve done that :)

  29. Jenn
    August 30th, 2007 20:51

    Looks beautiful Dagmar! Nice job!

  30. Jenn
    August 30th, 2007 20:51

    Looks beautiful Dagmar! Nice job!

  31. Inne
    August 30th, 2007 21:16

    Sorry you didn’t like it much Dagmar – looks great though. I used a coffee-infused milk chocolate and that tasted rather nice.

  32. peabody
    August 30th, 2007 23:31

    I found it a little too sweet also. I love how you have your fragments sticking up…looks cool.

  33. Jenny
    August 31st, 2007 01:44

    I think your tart looks wonderful! Great work Daring Baker!

  34. Chris
    August 31st, 2007 04:40


  35. Amy
    August 31st, 2007 06:16

    Sorry to hear it was too sweet but it looks awesome! Great job! I’m guilty of baking late in the evening too.

  36. barbara
    August 31st, 2007 08:23

    It alllooks delicious especiall the caramel layer.

  37. Katie
    August 31st, 2007 10:37

    I love the way your arranged the shards on top. My caramel seized when I added the cream too. Looks great!

  38. MyKitchenInHalfCups
    September 1st, 2007 00:16

    Yeah, right! Is it ever possible to not get cocky and think I know how to do this. Such true words – there is always something to learn!
    Absolutely beautiful shards and tarts.

  39. Jerry
    September 1st, 2007 20:23

    Looks so yummy!

  40. breadchick
    September 9th, 2007 02:42

    Great job!!

  41. Dagmar
    September 15th, 2007 18:09

    Thanks for all sweet compliments and comments!

    Lolotte: You need to email Lis or Ivonne, their email addresses can be found on the blog roll page.

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