This morning I’m up at 5 to see the husband and Auggie off on a long drive north for a day of championship mountain bike racing. As soon as I hear the truck pull out of the driveway, I pour a cup of coffee and take the caramel tart I made yesterday out of the refrigerator.
It was late last night (know that these days “late” for me means somewhere around 9 pm) when the tart had cooled enough to be put in the fridge for at least a 2-hour chill. By that time I was tucked in and fast asleep.
When the Hubs saw the pre-baked tart shell he said, “Is that for apples?” When I answered No, that it would be filled with caramel. He whined, “Caramel?”
Yes Dear. Caramel. Dorie Greenspan’s from her book, Baking Chez Moi. And with that, he was back in the living room watching the Badger football game. He was going to be okay.
So this morning, alone, hours from daylight, I peel back the layers of Saran wrap, quietly cut a slice and enjoy every smooth mouthful all along considering this a very good first breakfast (no need to set a good example–there no signs of Fritz or Harriet stirring in their beds at this point).
It tastes as it should (I am encouraged), a rich caramel filling uncomplicated in its most basic buttery-ness. The shortbread crust is pleasantly sweet with good crunch and somewhat forgiving in that, by choosing to piece the dough together in the pan rather than rolling it out, I’m sure I overworked it a bit.
The first time I made the caramel for this dessert, I forgot to add the warm cream at the end. This soon became a clumpy mess (alarmingly so) when I attempted to add the caramel mixture (minus the cream) to the bowl of creamed-together sugar and eggs. I had to start over which wasn’t too bad–well having to get dried caramel off of the pan, and off the spatula and whisk was a pain in the ass–but then it was only a matter of boiling sugar, water and a few drops of lemon juice to get things rolling again.
One more misstep ensued. In my haste to get this into the oven and get dinner started, I forgot that this recipe calls for a 9-inch tart pan and I have an 8-inch. Because I overfilled the pan, the baking time increased by almost twice as much, which resulted in a slightly browned top (not the autumnal sunset color I was hoping for). At least I remembered to place the tart on a parchment-lined baking sheet otherwise I’d be subjecting my family to the assaulting stink of burnt sugar for a long, long time.
Still Dorie’s caramel tart, of which I adapted not a single thing, tastes divine as it should. A dollop of chantilly cream and a few shavings of bittersweet chocolate on top solves the less-than-perfect aesthetic issue. I would serve this smoldering dessert to dinner guests without apology.
If you’d like the recipe, feel free to leave me a message in the comments. I’d love to share it with you.