My most memorable cooking/baking experience is one that helps inspire and expand my skill set and knowledge in the kitchen. It does not hurt if the food happens to taste or look good. This recipe comes from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. (You can see a similar tartlet recipe here.) I found this chocolate dulce de leche tart to be very rich and sweet, from the first to the last bite. There is no relief in bites in between. Not a recipe that I’d pick up and start baking. I eat a piece with some raspberries. That works for me.
What worked even better was how I prepared the dulce de leche, a glossy caramel paste, in my own kitchen, instead of using a store-bought variety. All you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk that you may have around in the pantry.
I’ve considered several methods in making the dulce de leche. Cooking an unopened can in simmering water. Microwaving. Pressure cooking. Slow cooking. Double boiling. Or doing it sous vide style. I finally decided on the technique of cooking an unopened can of condensed milk in simmering water for over two hours until the milk turns brown and caramelized. An easy-to-follow and uncomplicated approach that I’d surely repeat. Do keep in mind that it won’t make the best tasting dulce de leche. This method produces a better version of the condensed milk in the can and cannot go that much further than that.
|A can of condensed milk turns into dulce de leche in simmering water|
The chocolate crust dough is pressed into a tart ring with a removable bottom. Quite easy to do, but rather hard to make an even and pretty crust. The crust can be made ahead and kept frozen until ready to bake. The crust is then blind baked. Dulce de leche and bittersweet chocolate ganache are layered on top. Bake until the chocolate custard is set.
I made four mini tarts instead of one big 9-inch tart that serves up to 10. I might have overbaked the mini tarts, since cracks were surfacing on the top and around the chocolate filling. The dulce de leche was more runny than it should be. The chocolate ganache looked dull. What I need is a lesson and instructions in tempering the chocolate properly to attain that desirable glossy finish, which evaded me in this bake. I can use some tips!
Please visit Cook-the-book-fridays to see the comments and discussions on this recipe from the online group, a community of engaging home cooks, who are working through each and every recipe in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. To me, it’s a valuable medium in sharing our baking process and experience with fellow bakers. Through that, I learn something new and different every time.
Postscript: Here is a video from American Test Kitchen on how to temper chocolate. The long and short of it is to keep the chocolate mixture around 88°F to preserve as many as possible the beta crystals, which give chocolate the desirable luster and texture.