Recipe: Tartlettes Chocolat-Café avec Noisettes Caramélisées (Coffee Chocolate Tartlets with Caramelised Hazelnuts)
Techniques: Shortcrust Pastry, Ganache, Caramel
Well this was an eventful one! I almost destroyed a couple of saucepans, my ganache split and I stabbed myself in the thumb with a cocktail stick.
This recipe is actually from the decorations section of the book, so it’s really all about the caramelised hazelnuts, however I needed to make something to decorate.
It was fun to do and playing with caramel is both enjoyable and highly frustrating. Like so many of the recipes, I begin with making the pastry. Hardly surprising given the name of the book (patisserie=pastry).
This was a basic shortcrust that I made the day before and stored in the fridge overnight. Rolling it out, I lined 24 individual tins. I only had 16 round tins, so I had to use 8 boat shaped tins as well. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that not all 24 survived, I had a couple of losses along the way. They either stuck to the tin, or snapped as a result of my heavy handedness!
Apart from that, the pastry was very uneventful and practice does seem to be helping. However, shortcrust is pretty much the easiest pastry. I still have choux to re-attempt and puff pastry to try.
Now on to the main event, the caramelised hazelnuts. I roasted the hazelnuts in the oven for 10 minutes and then moved on to make the caramel. It was very easy, simply heat the sugar until it melts. I did have a lot of sugar crystals up the side of the pan, however there was more than enough caramel, so this wasn’t a problem.
The book recommends dipping the caramel pan in a bowl of cold water so that it stops cooking and doesn’t colour any further. It then recommends that you very quickly dip each hazelnut in the caramel before it sets.
Well this didn’t really go as planned. The caramel set almost instantly when I sat the pan in the water. I had over 24 hazelnuts to dip and if I’d been the Hindu God Vishnu, I still would’ve struggled. So I put the pan back on the heat and didn’t bother with the bowl of cold water.
I actually had to acquire some polystyrene to help with the decoration of the hazelnuts. I made a tower, which I stood the polystyrene on and held it in place with a bag of flour. I placed a piece of greaseproof paper underneath, to catch the drips of caramel. This stuff went everywhere!
I then stabbed a cocktail stick into each hazelnut, dipped it in the caramel and then stuck the cocktail stick upside down into the polystyrene. Now I bet the stabbed thumb is beginning to make more sense…
These pictures hopefully explain it a bit more clearly.
I heated the cream, water and coffee in a pan and when it came to a boil I poured half of it over the chopped up dark chocolate and butter. The chocolate was taking an age to melt. So I put the remaining cream back on the heat. In hindsight, this was where I mucked up.
I overheated the cream and it stuck to the bottom of the pan. When I poured the remaining cream back on to the chocolate, it started to split and oil seeped out of the mixture. Unsure of what to do, I used my immersion blender to try and fix the problem.
That didn’t work, so I whisked it. Thankfully this saved it, the mixture bonded back together and all was not lost. I was beginning to worry because I didn’t have anymore cream or chocolate in the house and it was too late to go out to a shop by this point.
With all my components made, I finally assembled the tarts. Piping the ganache into the shells and decorating each one with a caramelised hazelnut.
Here are the finished articles:
I managed to rescue the saucepans and the thumb is healing nicely. Next week continuing down the chocolate route, a chocolate cake with a mousse filling, complete with chocolate decorations. Although I like making things that look pretty, the decorations section of the book is quite limited. After next week, I’ll be glad to move on to something else.
Thanks for looking.