Monday, October 7, 2013

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets

All of a sudden, chocolate has jumped to the top of my favorite ingredients list. It’s because of the new book Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook. Since receiving a review copy of the book, chocolate is pretty much all I can think about. But, before we get to all the delicious-looking recipes, I should ask if you’re familiar with Mast Brothers chocolate? Rick and Michael Mast are in fact brothers, and they began making bean-to-bar craft chocolate in Brooklyn about six years ago. They source a variety of cacao beans directly from farmers, roast the beans themselves, and craft their chocolate with only added sugar and no emulsifiers. Not many chocolate companies actually craft chocolate from cacao beans, and most chocolate is made with added ingredients for flavor and/or improved texture. Most companies buy chocolate already formed, temper it, and make confections. The Mast brothers were inspired to learn the entire process and discover unique flavors from different types of cacao beans grown in different locations. The book has a nice rhythm to it with recipes that are each accompanied by a beautiful photo and are interspersed with stories about the brothers and how they started their craft chocolate business. They follow a few simple rules to keep their business on track like: “Master your craft-- Continuously improve the quality of your craft; Make everything delicious; Waste nothing; Connect customers to the source-- We are nothing without our farmers.” I liked everything I was learning about this company. One story that particularly stood out was about how they decided to sail a shipment of beans to New York. They didn’t want oil to be involved in the transport of their beans, so they spent months researching, planning, and scheduling a sailing cargo ship to pick up 300 bags of cacao beans from the Dominican Republic and deliver them to Brooklyn. That’s dedication to simplicity at its best. 

The recipes have a nice sense of simplicity about them as well. These aren’t tricky or complex chocolatier’s confections. And, it isn’t a requirement that Mast Brothers chocolate be used for them to work. But, they are all recipes for high quality, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and cacao nibs. There are Classic Chocolate Brownies with almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans; Chocolate-Covered Pretzels with homemade, yeast-raised, pretzels; Chocolate Caramels with Sea Salt; Chocolate Chip and Ricotta Pancakes; various chocolate cookies; chocolate sauces; a couple of versions of hot cocoa; cakes; pies; and that’s just some of the sweet stuff. There are also savory uses of chocolate throughout the book. I’ve already tried the Cacao Nib Salad with Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette and was delighted. The vinaigrette was made by grinding cacao nibs, chopped rosemary, cocoa powder, salt, and pepper in a mortar with a pestle, and then balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil were added. It was tossed with a salad of frisee, arugula, spinach, and blood orange wedges, and topped with more cacao nibs. The flavors were balanced, the cacao nibs were nutty, and subtle cocoa flavor paired well with the blood orange. Some other savory recipes include mole sauce, of course, a cocoa dry rub, a Savory Chocolate Cream Sauce for pasta, and a Spiced Cocoa Butternut Squash Soup. It’s like I’m transfixed by these recipes. Whether the uses of chocolate are novel or classic, everything in book looks like something I want to make right now. 

First, I made the Chocolate Crunch because I had the ingredients in the house and could actually make it as soon as I read about it. It was a simple matter of melting chocolate with butter, adding peanut butter and honey, stirring in puffed rice cereal, pouring it into a pan and waiting for it cool. The result was like the best possible version of a Nestle Crunch bar. Next, I had to try the Chocolate Caramel Tart which I made as tartlets. The chocolate tart dough was made with cocoa powder, butter, flour, egg yolks, and just a little bit of sugar. It wasn’t a very sweet dough, and that worked well with the caramel filling. The crusts were blind-baked and left to cool. The caramel was made with cooked sugar, cream, butter, creme fraiche, and salt. I made four-inch tartlets, had enough dough for eight tartlet shells, and was able to fill six of them with caramel filling. The recipe is written for a twelve-inch tart, so I expected the crusts and filling might not match up perfectly. After the caramel filling set in the crusts, the tartlets were drizzled with ganache and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. As a huge fan of all things caramel, this was an ideal dessert for me. And, now I need to re-stock my chocolate supply and pick which recipe to make next. 

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24 comments:

  1. I love the dark chocolate base and your serving plates are gorgeous - such pretty colours that go with the tarts so well. I haven't heard of Mast chocolate - I'll google to see if they export to Oz xx

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  2. Decadent! Those tartlets must taste just heavenly.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. this would be a favourite of mine as well.

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  4. Decadent and irresistible! I love the combo of caramel and chocolate.

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  5. What an enchanting recipe! I am looking forward to adding this new cookbook to my "groaning" bookshelf!

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  6. Looks delicious Lisa! Chocolate and caramel is such a wonderful combination. Loved reading the background on the Mast Brothers. I'm always inspired by people who are so dedicated to their craft.

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  7. Salted caramel + chocolate? Yes for both. I can't eat chocolate on its own without anything like that!

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  8. I haven't had Mast brothers chocolate, but I've heard of it (and this book). Sounds terrific - certainly this recipe is wonderful. Good stuff - thanks.

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  9. Yum! Chocolate and caramel? Yes, I would have this tart at anytime...
    Hope you are enjoying your week Lisa :D

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  10. That cocoa nib vinaigrette sounds delightful, too. Never ever thought to use nibs like that. Gotta try it.

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  11. one of my top five flavor combinations, no question. the caramel aspect of this is swoon-worthy--amazing work, lisa!

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  12. Oh my these chocolate tartlets look gorgeous...caramely decadence and bliss in every bite,thanks so much for sharing :-)

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  13. Whoa! This is seriously screaming my name! ;D
    www.prettybitchescancooktoo.com

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  14. hehe I wish that I didn't love cooking with chocolate so much but I really do! :D These look divine!

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  15. Never have heard of Mast Brothers chocolate..thanks for the info. Sounds like a super cookbook too. I'm crazy about that chocolate tart dough. Lots of idea popped into my head when I saw that photo. Great post, Lisa.

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  16. For me, as a confessed chocoholic, this recipe is culinary heaven!I like the vision that stands behind Mast Brothers chocolate, sounds inspiring.

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  17. When we connect to the story and the people that are associated with our food, it brings on a whole new respect and appreciation.

    You did the Mast brothers good with these recipes. Thanks for sharing.

    Velva

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  18. Such lovely little tartlets! Chocolate is always on my mind so I need to pick up this book. I can add it to the stack of other cookbooks I've been meaning to get around to. While I'm on a baking hiatus, it's nice to enjoy your creations vicariously.

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  19. Doggone it, another cookbook on my wish list! Happily both Hanukkah and Christmas are coming up. Wow chocolate yes, but the source sounds amazing (the Mast Brothers) and simple recipes? The chocolate crunch sounds amazing and the tarts look fabulous.

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  20. These look wonderfully decadent!
    http://tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily.wordpress.com/http://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/

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