The Burnt Sugar Experiment (or the Daring Bakers August Challenge)

The pink blossoms definitely give a wonderful touch for my photos in this post. Aren´t they just so pretty and elegant?

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But the subject of this post is not flowers but another challenge set by The Daring Bakers! This month test is set by two talented members – Veron and Patricia. These girls really know my heart since they have chosen something very rich, buttery and chocolaty for us – Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart.

The recipe for the tart might sound easy, but Veron was so true to tell us to “read between the lines”. With a rather brief instruction, all my past tart-making experience came handy and helped me to avoid certain disasters. Nevertheless, this challenge still provides me with new lessons in baking.

First lesson: experience is important!

The major challenge of this tart is to make the caramel layers. The recipe calls for `the dry method´ of making caramel, which means melting and caramelising sugar. The alternative method, which also includes water and corn syrup, reduces the chance of burning the sugar.

The dry method is good for me as I have been making caramel for this famous Vietnamese dish since childhood. This skill became handy as I proceeded through the recipe. Personally, I prefer the dry method better because it is quicker and tends to produce deeper flavours.

How I love the beautiful shiny caramel syrup here?

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And now, the second lesson: your experience is not always right! Read the recipe carefully and pay attention!

This lesson came along when I decided to make some decoration for the finished tarts. I pictured a lovely sugar cage covering my lovely little tart. With that in mind, I searched for the recipe in one of my trusted baking books. You see, making sugar cage requires melting the sugar with syrup and water until candy stage. Having passed through the caramel making stage, I was confident that this would be easy to do.

But no, no, no! I nearly burnt the sugar and my pot because I forgot to read the final steps carefully. Worse, the melted sugar was everywhere on my kitchen bench and it took sooooo long to clean the whole things up. So as a result, I ended up with something not quite as expected. See the messy sugar decoration on my plate? That was all I got after nearly burning the kitchen down.

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What a baking day! However, I am quite pleased with then end results. The crust is very light and nutty. I omitted cinnamon from the original recipe since cinamon for me doesn´t work with chocolate. The caramel layer is really lovely – dark and luxurious. It goes quite well with the milk chocolate mousse on top.

Overall, the tart is on the sweeter and richer side so it is best to enjoy in small portion with a cuppa. And milk chocolate works here since it does not overwhelm the caramel flavours. Nevertheless, I might try to use dark chocolate next time to see how it goes.

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Here is the link to the recipe if you wanna give it a try. Meanwhile, don´t forget to visit other Daring Bakers blogs to see their marvelous showcases of this tart. The list of DB members can be accessed from here.
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67 Responses to The Burnt Sugar Experiment (or the Daring Bakers August Challenge)

  1. Peabody says:

    I love your decorations! Your caramel set up WAY better than mine did! Great job.

  2. Dharm says:

    Lovely! Just lovely! I like how you decorated it too. Well done you!

  3. Jen the Bread Freak says:

    Beautiful tart! I love the little decorations. So glad you didn’t burn down your kitchen with the caramel :D.

  4. veron says:

    What cute decorations! There’s nothing worse than burnt sugar hissing at you. But you did so well – your tart is phenomenal!

  5. Leslie says:

    Your final tart is so adorable! Love how you used your burnt sugar. Very cute! ANd also smart to omit the cinnamon. I made the tart early in the month, so I went against my initial hesitation to include it.

  6. Kelly Mahoney says:

    I’m starving now. It looks great.

  7. Chris says:

    I love how your tart looks – great job!

  8. Anne says:

    Oh Anh your tart is so pretty :) Your blog is always the first one I visit whenever it’s Daring Baker’s Challenge. I was completely mesmerized! How could anyone have the heart to eat such a beautiful tart. In my case I might as well stare at it and preserve it forever…really…I’m so impressed :)

  9. Kevin says:

    That looks great. It really does sound like it would be challenging to make (well, for me anyways).

  10. Tartelette says:

    Beautiful job and beautiful job! I so want a slice of yours!!!

  11. Morven says:

    Your tart is just the cutest, pretty little thing. Well done.

  12. Aoife says:

    Congratulations on mastering the dry method! I’ll have to give that another try sometime.

  13. KJ says:

    Your tart is so beautiful. Sigh, so jealous. What a great job. I tried the dry method without success. Maybe I will get it one day.

  14. Marce says:

    I love the way you decorated the cake, caramel cage or not, it looks very sophisticated.

  15. Elle says:

    Your tart (including the almost burnt sugar decoration on the plate) is charming. It is interesting how we can forget to look at the recipe when we think we know what we are doing, then, ooops. The tiny hearts are so cute and I love that you piped the mousse.

  16. Mandy says:

    Anh, this is so pretty! nice shots as always. Love the flowers!

  17. Dolores says:

    Oh, Ahn, your decorations are beautiful. I so need a course in presentation…

  18. Rose says:

    – Anh, you did a wonderful job. Marvelous. I agrre 100% for the flowers, it’s so romantic.

  19. steph says:

    so sweet! and the plated tart looks gorgeous!

  20. Meeta says:

    Beautiful decoration and clever idea to pipe the mousse on the tart. Well done Anh!

  21. Baking Soda says:

    How sweet! So elegant! Well done, great job

  22. Pille says:

    Looks beautiful, Anh – especially the pink flowers, of course:) I nearly burnt down my kitchen as well, but as I really loved this cake, it was all worth it:)

  23. sher says:

    Look what you did! I am blown away by your decorations. It looks like a fabulous fantasy dessert!

  24. sunita says:

    Thatb looks soooo pretty…well done!

  25. Kelly-Jane says:

    Really pretty, the little hearts set it off so well. Well done :)

  26. Barbara says:

    Great Tart Anh. I love the little pink hearts.

  27. Mary says:

    I love the styling of your photos. Gorgeous tarts and beautiful flowers!

  28. Aimée says:

    Ah, it’s more fun where there is a bit of risk involved, no? OK, so you didn’t burn down your kitchen, but you produced this darling tart instead. A happy ending!

  29. Cris says:

    You are so inspiring! Little details that count on your decoration!

  30. Asha says:

    They are Heavenly!! Little Hearts in there perfects it:)

  31. bhags says:

    Nice blog you have got here Anh, with lovely pics…surely the pink blossoms are wonderful and so is your dish

  32. kellypea says:

    What a precious little tart. I love the presentation with the swirl on the plate. And yes, isn’t it funny how “experience” can sometimes be something to be reconned with…=)

  33. Mishmash ! says:

    “The pink blossoms definitely give a wonderful touch for my photos in this post. Aren´t they just so pretty and elegant? ” I was thinking of the same thing even before I read that first line :))) Btw, nobody sees the ‘mess’ u re referring to, in the plate…what everybody sees is a beautiful tart and with some cute pretty hearts :) Awesome :)

  34. Deborah says:

    These are gorgeous as always!!

  35. Belinda says:

    Anh…wow! I love your pretty pink flowers…they are indeed very elegant. And your tarts…breathtakingly beautiful! I admire all of the Daring Bakers for their talent and adventurous baking spirit. :-) Your presentation of these tarts is so professional, and so lovely.

  36. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Anh, these photos are breathtaking, my dear friend! Wow!

  37. Cynthia says:

    The pink flowers do make the the pic even more beautiful but then look at the decorations on the the tart! You totally rock, Anh!

  38. Anita says:

    I really like how you plated it, Anh! It’s like magazine shot!

  39. Lis says:

    could your lil tart be any cuter? I don’t think so!

  40. Sara says:

    Incredible, incredible, incredible pictures!!!

  41. tigerfish says:

    Lovely. I saw a big tart housing those mini tarts. Wow! Nice unique tart you have :)

  42. Lydia says:

    Beautiful photos — and even without the caramel cage, your tarts are lovely.

  43. neil says:

    Hmm, burning down the kitchen, that would be the ultimate price to pay for being a daring baker and I see you’re not alone in the pyromania stakes. I can imagine how long it would’ve taken to clean solid caramel from your benches, pots are easy, just let ’em soak. You tart looks dreamy and luscious, I really love the way you interpreted the recipe. Great job.

  44. Amy says:

    It’s beautiful even without the cage! I love the color of your caramel it looks so rich and deeply flavored. The flowers and decorations on top are adorable!

  45. Amanda at Little Foodies says:

    I love the piped on mousse with the little hearts on and the blossom is beautiful too. I’d love to try making spun sugar with an expert and in their kitchen (so I didn’t HAVE to clean it up).

  46. *fanny* says:

    This is just too cute a tart!

  47. Ilva says:

    As always a beautiful cake and beautiful photos!

  48. Inne says:

    Your tartlets look incredibly cute Anh, with the little decorations. I love the way you piped the chocolate mousse. Glad I’m not the only one ‘forgetting’ to put cinnamon in the crust.

  49. Agnes says:

    That looks so beautiful! I think the decoration on the plate worked well, even though it wasn’t what you originally planned. :)

  50. Retno Prihadana says:

    Two thumbs for you!

  51. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen says:

    Such a wonderful job! Looks beautiful!

  52. Quellia says:

    How sweet!

  53. Jenny says:

    Fish with caramel sauce? Really? That might be something I have to try.

  54. Nora B. says:

    wow, wow, WOW!!! Anh, your tarts look so pretty, so perfect! These are the best looking ones that I’ve seen of the DB so far (ooops, I hope I haven’t offended anyone…). Your are so talented and creative.

  55. The Cooking Ninja says:

    wow! so pretty and cute! Picture perfect and delicious!

  56. Renz says:

    That is really a beautiful and imaginative presentation

  57. Andrea says:

    Your tart looks beautiful and your photos are stunning!

  58. Katie says:

    How cute. Your photos are really artistic.

  59. joey says:

    Ooooh! Your tart is adorable! Love the little pink hearts :)

  60. eatme_delicious says:

    Oh I would love to eat that! Sorry to hear about your sugar cage not working out. The caramel on the plate looks pretty though!

  61. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    That is fantastic decoration! Beautiful.

  62. Coffee & Vanilla says:

    Very nice pictures and styling :)

  63. Jerry says:

    I love it! LoVE love love!

  64. wmpe says:

    I love your little tarts. I like the “messy” sugar decorations too. Looks so randomly planned. Your photographs are beautiful with the flowers and petals scattered. Wendy

  65. breadchick says:

    Lovely little tarts with cute little hearts!!! Great job!

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