I haven’t been baking nearly enough. Besides the fact that sweets have been remarkably absent from this blog, I recently had to be prompted to make cookies because the jar was empty. The cookie jar should never be empty. Ever. But there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do everything I want to do, read everything I want to read and make everything I want to make. But there should always be time for baking.
It seems as though I’ve been sucked into the cooking world lately. This is obviously a byproduct of working in a restaurant where savoury dominates over sweet. It’s probably also as a result of getting caught up in other people’s enthusiasm. When the people around you truly enjoy what they’re doing it’s hard not to want to get involved and have fun with it too. It seems I’m not the only one with this disposition. A couple of the dishies, (dishwashers) at work will usually come find me when they’re done their work and ask me if there’s anything they can do for me. Depending on what needs to be done I’ll either hand them some more dishes to do, ask them to go downstairs to the walk in fridge to get me some ingredients or point them in the direction of something that needs cleaning. They like me best though when I let them use a knife to do some sort of prep work. They just want to cook too.
A couple weeks ago one of the young dishes came and asked me if there was anything he could do to help. I knew there was a large box of herbs that needed to be chopped so I told him he could start on that. His response was an enthusiastic “OK!” followed by a blank stare. I then asked him if he had ever chopped herbs before and determined that he had not. So I set him up with a cutting board and a knife and showed him what he needed to do to avoid chopping off a finger and let him get to work. I went back to what I was doing but kept an eye on him. A short while later he popped his head up and exclaimed, “Look! I’m cooking!” It was so genuine, I couldn’t help but smile.
All of this is to say that I’ve been caught up with cooking and doing a lot more of it than baking, (although in my case, actual cooking, not just chopping herbs) but it’s time to switch it up a bit and a Dorie Greenspan recipe is always a great place to start. The surprising bit is that I’ve made this recipe for Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart before and it’s a rare thing for me to make the same tart twice. However, consistency is also important and therefore repetition is becoming a necessity which is not necessarily a bad thing. Repeating this recipe has allowed me to improve on the final presentation and give the plate a little colour with pomegranates. Ironically, the last time I made it I stated that there was nothing I could do to improve upon it. What a difference a year can make.
Dorie makes this tart with roasted, salted peanuts although I opted for toasted almonds with an extra pinch of salt as that’s what I had in the cupboard. The whipped cream I made is Kahlua infused and only lightly sweetened. And finally, the plate is garnished with pomegranate jelly and fresh pomegranate seeds because I love their sweet tartness and jewel-like tones. I added one other thing to this tart although it was completely accidental. As I stirred the chocolate and warm cream together to make the ganache, I noticed that not all of my chocolate was melting and there appeared to be little bits swimming about. Closer inspection, (and tasting) would reveal that I had used a chocolate bar with cocoa nibs in it so my final ganache wasn’t perfectly smooth but it did have a bonus flavour and texture that I quite liked.
I had thought that I would link to the recipe through the Tuesdays with Dorie group but they’ve shockingly not made this one yet so I’ll just refer you to page 355 in Baking from My Home to Yours, which you should all own by now anyways. Dorie says this tart is best the day it’s made, but I assure you that if there are leftovers they’re just as good the following day with a cup of tea or coffee for an afternoon snack.