Thursday, October 6, 2011

BAKED CHOCOLATE TARTLETS WITH SALTED BUTTER CARAMEL SAUCE

STARTING OVER – STEP 4 (DARE!)


Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
- Steve Jobs

I’m exhausted,” he sighs as he plops down onto the sofa and rhythmically begins rubbing his temples, weariness spread across his entire body. “I don’t know up from down and the Rat Race just makes me crazy!” Looking for comfort, a bit of reassurance and maybe one of her good, old-fashioned pep talks, he waits for her to decide what to say. Ironing, when not baking, has always been her way to center herself, focus her thoughts and clear her head, and once again he finds her in the corner of the livingroom, steam curling around her head, ready to listen. You see, instead of taking a much-needed and deserved six-month’s rest, he dove right in, grabbing at projects right and left, trying his hand and heart at this and that, looking for the perfect fit, the next step in his starting over.

Back and forth, back and forth; her arm follows the path of the iron hypnotically. With each wrinkle of the smooth cloth that disappears under the searing pressure, so goes a wrinkle of stress, a spot of confusion, one pessimistic thought. She glances his way but briefly, yearning to make a connection yet avoiding direct eye contact – his eyes, though, are turned towards the window, staring off into some hazy distance on the horizon – and begins listing for him all of their accomplishments, reminding him of their dreams. She goes on, discoursing on how this crazy, modern world and all of those sadly caught up in the rules and limitations set by some noisy majority, a crowd of strangers out to instill a sense of guilt and self-castigation, mean little to them and those willing to live by their own set of rules and happiness. “This is our adventure!” she exclaims. “You know deep down that it will be all right. We are on the right track.” Her soothing voice reaches towards him, ringing an odd but savory truth. And he pushes himself up and gets back to work. She turns off the iron, calmer now, and…


And she got right into the rhythm, inspired by his work ethic and stick-to-itiveness: she succeeded in putting herself on a schedule (sort of), fixing goals and deadlines (mostly kept), staying off of social media and away from her friends during her working hours (well….) and actually getting things done (yes!). After a month, a very long month away, she is buckling down, with his tacit encouragement and his calming presence (not to mention his iron eye) and has begun to attend to her work seriously: writing and submitting, magazine articles, recipes, book projects and proposals. Nose to the grindstone, she is surprised when she gets to the end of her day, crawling between the cool sheets, and realizes that she accomplished what she had set out to do. She smiles to herself, half satisfied, and mentally notes what she will attempt tomorrow.

Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
- Steve Jobs

We are all home together again, JP and I and both the boys. And Marty, happy dog. Somehow, now that the boys are grown, they are less reluctant to spend an evening in with the parents, one big happy family. We are back to cooking meals, real meals, and eating at the kitchen table, discussing projects and plans, trips and school. With, of course, the occasional pizza dinner in front of a good (or not so good) movie. Mealtime as a family has always been our strong point, as odd a family as we are with our rather unconventional lifestyle. Through thick and thin, adolescent doldrums, arguments and disagreements, come rain or shine we have always gathered around the dinner table of an evening, neutral territory. Leaving our differences behind, we come to the meal ready to chat, laugh and learn. The topics are anything that we dream of: tales of country, king and wars; stories of school, work or people; memories of time shared, spent or traveled; places seen, experienced and lived.

Simon has been gone for a year and a half, Clem for two months and I for one. As things slowly return to normal, the two remaining are pulled out of their slump and things begin to find their rhythm. JP and I are neck deep in our individual projects, Clem is back to school and work fulltime after an exciting and successful summer interning, designing, creating, networking, hobnobbing. Simon, finally returned from his volunteer stint in New Orleans and then Florida where he has been taking care of his grandmother and her dog, has been researching, planning and organizing the next stage of his life. So we have all been busy, busy, busy. And now, on top of everything, we are planning our drive down to Italy where I am headed to From Plate to Page and where we will be leaving Simon for an internship in Milan.


I haven’t had the time to update our personal travelogue, my heartfelt, comforting advice on Starting Over… but believe me, we have been rushing madly forward, devising plans, working on several projects in parallel, our fingers in so many pies. Something, anything has got to click. And it will. Like cats, we always tend to fall on our feet and what is life if not an adventure? You see, I’ve been overseeing my home, rearranging what was disarranged while I was away, helping to get Simon on his feet through careful negotiation, some loud arguments, weighing options, group decisions and gentle hand holding. I listen to JP as he recounts tales of his research or clinical adventures, lets off steam or discusses opportunities. I do laundry while waiting for ideas to gestate and take form, drink coffee and eat cake while thumbing through a mindless novel when I need to refuel or frustration needs to be fended off, and I write. And write. And write. Happily and oh so luckily I have girlfriends out there in the world who support me, encourage me, advise and inform me. We all need guidance and kind words, and that is part of Step 4…for who can Start Over if one doesn’t dare….dare to venture out into worlds unknown, reach out and make new contacts, call attention to oneself? He is doing it as well as I, each in our own domains and our own ways.

Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power. It is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits.
- Baron Justus von Liebig


And in between my many projects, my writing, Plate to Page planning and organizing, I have been pulling myself out of a slump both writing and baking. Man, as they say, cannot live on bread alone and that usually means chocolate. Back in the mood to bake, I have been pampering my family with sweet treats almost everyday. Macarons, Pecan Caramel Chocolate Cake, fudgy brownies (to come) and they have been gobbling it all up, pleased as punch that crazy mom and her endless baking are back! And with all of our projects, we certainly need to refuel and all the good things chocolate does to body and soul are the ideal nourishment.

It has been shown as proof positive that carefully prepared chocolate is as healthful a food as it is pleasant; that it is nourishing and easily digested...
that it is above all helpful to people who must do a great deal of mental work.
- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin


An absolutely stunning recipe, my Baked Chocolate Tartlets begin with a tender, delicate, perfect pie crust based on the French style of replacing granulated sugar with powdered and adding milk to the egg used to bind the dry ingredients into a dough. The filling is mousse-like, light and airy from whipping then brief baking, melting on the tongue in an ethereal cloud yet deep in chocolate flavor like a brownie or flourless cake. And serve these scrumptious, elegant tartlets with a classic Salted Butter Caramel Sauce, a local tradition, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream or simply with a dusting of powdered sugar. Perfect. Just perfect.


BAKED CHOCOLATE TARTLETS WITH SALTED BUTTER CARAMEL SAUCE

For the Pie Crust:

1 ¾ cups (250 g) flour
1/3 cup (40 g) powdered/icing sugar
8 Tbs (115 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened, cubed
1 large egg yolks
Scant ¼ cup (50 ml) milk, slightly more if needed

Sift or whisk together the flour and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Drop in the cubes of butter and, using the tips of your fingers and thumb, rub the butter and flour together quickly until all of the butter is blended in and there are no more lumps. Add the egg yolk and the milk and, using a fork, blend vigorously until all of the flour/sugar/butter mixture is moistened and starts to pull together into a dough.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and, using the heel of one hand, smear the dough inch by inch away from you in short, hard, quick movements; this will completely blend the butter in. Scrape up the smeared dough and, working very quickly, gently knead into a smooth, homogeneous ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Lightly grease with butter the sides and bottoms of 6 individual tartlet tins (4 to 4 ¼ inches/ 10 ½ to 11 cm wide) and place the prepared tins on a baking sheet.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Working on a floured surface and with the top of the dough kept lightly floured to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin, roll out the dough and line the tins by gently lifting in and pressing down the dough. Trim the edges. Cover the baking tray with the lined tins with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This can also be done ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Remove the baking tray from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Cut or tear squares of parchment paper larger than each tin. Prick each tartlet shell with a fork (not too hard or deep as you don’t want holes going all the way through the dough) and place a square or parchment over each. Weigh down the parchment with pastry weights or dried beans, pushing the beans into the corners. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully lift out the parchment squares and beans, pressing the bottoms down with your fingertips if puffed up, and prepare the Chocolate Filling.

For the Chocolate Filling:

3 ½ oz (100 g) good-quality dark bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (70%)
8 Tbs (110 g) unsalted butter
4 large egg yolks + 1 large whole egg
¼ cup (50 g) + 2 Tbs (30 g) granulated white sugar, as needed

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof pyrex bowl over a pan of just simmering water or in a bain marie, stirring gently, until just melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and the whole egg with the sugar on high speed for 5 minutes until very light, airy and mousse-like. Decrease the beater speed to medium, gradually beat in the melted chocolate and butter in a stream until blended.

Pour into the pre-baked tartlet shells, evenly dividing the chocolate filling in between the 6 tins; using a soup ladle makes this easier. Slide the baking sheet with the 6 filled tins into the oven and bake for 8 minutes or until the top is just set, having formed a slight crust.

Remove from the oven, slide the tarlets off the baking tray and onto a cooling rack and allow to cool.


For the Salted Butter Caramel Sauce (Caramel au Beurre Salé):

1 cup (200 g) granulated white sugar
3 ½ Tbs (50 g) salted butter
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

Melt the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until completely melted and caramel in color. Lower the heat to low and whisk in the butter in about 3 or 4 additions. Continuing to whisk, add the heavy cream in a slow stream; the caramel may foam up, but keep whisking, as it will calm down once all the cream is added and will turn to… a smooth caramel. Once it is smooth and creamy, remove from the heat and allow to cool at least to tepid before serving.

53 comments:

Anh said...

oh just perfect! I loveee these tartlets!

Nuts about food said...

Oh my, that dark chocolate interior... and what a nice way to honor steve jobs.

Kate said...

What a lovely tribute to an incredible man...and an amazing recipe. These look absolutely delicious - anything with slated caramel is top of my list :-)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those tartlets are just irresistible! Chocolate and salted butter caramel sauce, an incredibly luscious combination.

Lovely post, as always! This modern world nad rat race life is tiring... Better use the breaks before it is too late!

Cheers,

Rosa

Karen said...

Those tartlets look amazing. Even though I'm an incredibly ordinary baker I feel to need to give those a try. And thanks for reminding me what path I'm travelling on right now. :)

WiseMóna said...

Jamie,
I cannot imagine you in a 'raised voice' discussion with your family members, ever. You are right. SOmething will click when the time is right. But really, with all you have going on, it seems like it has already clicked for you :0). Have fun in Tuscany with the girls. xx

A Spoonful of Yumm said...

it sure is stunning !! looks so sinful & tempting

Jamie said...

@WiseMona: ha ha ha it's funny because when you write about being frustrated or angry I laugh and say "Mona? Really? Angry? Frustrated? No!" so this makes me chuckle. And yeah, raised voices.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely tribute to an icon. Thinking about the changes Steve Jobs has made in our lives is just incredible. Love your chocolate tartlets and your photos are outstanding. Your life too is full of the things you love. Have fun in Milan.
Sam

Jeanne said...

Oh man, I am in love with these. The chocolate looks almost impossibly light and there is NOTHING on this planet that cannot be improved by salted butter caramel...! I think I need JP to come over here and organise my life too ;)

Sanjeeta kk said...

Salted butter caramel..Hmm..making me crave for this delightful desert!

girlichef said...

Such a lovely tribute, Jamie. And such a lovely tart...so seductive, I think :D

Sips and Spoonfuls said...

These tarts lookslike the perfect 'fuel' after the long and busy summer your whole family as had.And it's the first time I;ve comeacross this unusual method/ ingredients for the tart casing.

Happy Cook / Finla said...

I would gobble up that tart in seconds, looks super delicious. Enjoying having the two boys back home Jamie. And sounfs like you and jp are really busy too.

tasteofbeirut said...

Steve Jobs passing moved me a lot, especially since I had watched his address to the Stanford students a few days before that happened; what an inspiring man.
Love these tartlets, can't think of anything better to make to comfort oneself ..

Lana said...

Jamie, it is stressful, but at the same time invigorating and exciting. Predictability is nice in small doses, but I also thrive on the uncertainty and unknown, fearing and cherishing the freedom that comes form the life both you and I lead. I am so happy that you are managing to push onward and accomplish everything you planned (yes, an iron stare or two are absolutely necessary for that:)
These tartlets look divine! You had some amazing chocolate treats and I cannot wait to come back to the U.S. to start making them for my girls (after I shed the horrible 10 lbs I managed to accumulate this summer in Serbia)!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Wonderful tribute and equally wonderful tartlets! These are a must try.

Aimée @ Food: Je t'Aimée said...

Those tartlets are downright... sexy! Completely and utterly seductive. Beautiful photos and gorgeous recipe, Jamie. Thank you for sharing! (Must, must invest in tart shells!)

Rose said...

Je n'ai pas tout lu (dur pour moi l'anglais !) mais très bel hommage à S. Jobs ces petits extrait.

Et très belles tartelettes :)

A bientôt ;)

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

Another morning when all I want for breakfast is your contribution to my day and today it's this tartlett. Funny, you call the sauce salted butter caramel sauce...I guess here it's just caramel sauce since I always cook with salted butter. And then if I want a salted caramel sauce I add a touch of fleur de sel.

Jenn @leftoverqueen said...

Best of luck in all of life's wonderful adventures! Great post for today, I needed reminded of several things brought up there! :)

Yuri - Chef Pandita said...

Beautiful tartlets! Thanks for the inspiration to bake, been so busy lately with work and just life in general... My blog, oven and camera need some love! I am tweeting one of those Steve Jobs quotes right now. So sad, such a brilliant mind...

Nicole said...

I love reading about your family time around the dinner table. So fundamental in an ever changing world. Those men of yours are lucky. Everything you make looks so scrumptious!!

Shulie said...

Ahahaha love this sentence 'Man, as they say, cannot live on bread alone and that usually means chocolate.' So nice to catch up with what's going on with you Jamie and looking forward to hearing about all your fantastic upcoming projects & the tart is absolutely lovely!!

Nancy said...

This tart looks wonderful... haven't made a chocolate tart in ages and this looks like the perfect one to get back to them with! Adding the salted caramel sauce puts it over the top!

Cake Duchess said...

JP irons and has an iron eye? Can he iron for me sometime?:) This is making me drool right now. Decadent, rich, and naughty...just like you!xx

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Just gorgeous Jamie! I made something with chocolate and salted caramel the other day too. It certainly has the power to pull someone out of a funk doesn't it!? :) And love that Steve Jobs quote-I couldn't agree more!

Priscilla - She's Cookin' said...

My head is spinning! I'm still trying to process everything I read with pauses to gape at these luscious tartlets! Beautiful photos and tribute! So nice to meet you Jamie - have a wonderful trip to Tuscany

Junglefrog said...

How I love hearing about all the projects going on in your life! Exciting times but I can see how it can be exhausting too. These chocolate caramel tarts look absolutely gorgeous and just the thing that any man ( or woman) needs!

Lisa said...

I could bathe on salted caramel if given the option. Those tarts look beautiful and delicious! Great quote from Steve Jobs. My fav is..

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."

Jamie said...

@Lisa: Mr. Jobs must have been talking about my and JP's life... seriously. And yes, chocolate and salted butter caramel... bathed in it. Happily I live in a city where salted butter caramel is an institution and a tradition. Come visit.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Together we are strong and pull or push each other. Chocolate always helps :o)
Love this Jamie!

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

Sigh… I so hear you! Thank you for your beautiful words and the beautiful recipe - both guaranteed to make it all better.

thepleasuremonger said...

These look positively alluring, Jamie! That caramel sauce is dying to be *gasp* licked!

lisa is cooking said...

Isn't is great to feel productive at the end of each day? I've been checking off to-do's at a good pace lately, and I like seeing the list get shorter (just before I add more to it). And, what a way to treat yourselves with these tartlets! The chocolate filling and caramel sauce are calling my name.

Laurel said...

This looks just absolutely delicious. I can't wait to pop this into the oven!
Thanks for your quotes and reminders. As a busy mom of three little boys it is easy to forget why we are doing things, and what things are truly important to us.

Deeba PAB said...

Loved reading the way your busy life seems to get even busier dear girl. Great to know the family is back and Marty is happy! Those tartlets are perfect in every way...and DELICIOUS! What a great flavour combination Jamie. Love the way you wrote this post; straight from the heart! HUGS!!

Barbara Bakes said...

What a decadent, delicious combination. Have a great time in Italy!

Ali said...

Wow!! so beautiful. Got me salivating!! the chocolate look delicious, love this post, nice pics.

Annapet said...

I was just leaving @ParsleynSage a comment how I love caramel. Oh, and here's another treat. I am all smiles.

Spicie Foodie said...

What a beautiful post. I love the Steve Jobs quotes you've used. He was and lead his life in such an inspirational way and one to learn from. Your tartlets look amazing!

Ivy said...

OMG what an amazing combination. I can't stop salivating. Lovely post as always.

bunkycooks said...

Yes, something good will come from all of your hard work and talent! I know it will. You are on the right track...just keep moving forward. BTW, I made a similar tart not long ago and they were fabulous! These flavors together are incredible.

Baker Street said...

These are just perfect Jamie! Reading your posts is always a lovely experience.

love that you used salted caramel sauce!

Jill Colonna said...

Loved reading you, Jamie. Ah, the joys of family life and you summed it up so well and the references and inspiration from Steve Jobs were all so real. Can totally identify with you on many issues! Enjoy Italy. Cheers on your beautiful sticky tartelette. You have one lucky family.

shaz said...

Phew! You sound so busy Jamie. But you are taking time out for chocolate, which is good, very good :)

Tickled Red said...

It never fails, when I pop over your words are reaching deep inside to either lift me up or validate :D I happen to be right where you are and the leap of faith has been worth every sacrifice. I seriously need to organize myself better but I'm getting there. Love, love, love the tart!

SKM said...

Jamie - I'm drooling. :) And I think I know what I'm going to make for Thanksgiving to impress my mom-in-law.

xoxo

Megan said...

I can relate to this post so well right now, as I'm in the middle of "starting over" as well.

These are quite beautiful and would be a welcome change on the standard Thanksgiving dessert table.

Dragon said...

I wanna bathe in that sauce. ;)

Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

DROOLING!

Fresh Local and Best said...

I like the artistic license you took on the sauce. Beautiful!

bellini said...

We both had chocolate and salted caramel on the mind this weekend Jamie. This is such a well written account of how our lives weave together sometimes in a bucolic rhythm and sometimes not, but always together.

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