Tuesday, March 03, 2009

*tart failure.

I love how sometimes, things that aren't supposed to go together fit beautifully. Ebony and ivory. Sonny and Cher. Cold beer and chocolate chip cookies (trust).

It's impossible to overstate the goodness of that union of briny and sweet. I find it works best with big flakes of crunchy salt and sultry chocolate (remember these?). So when I saw this in Food & Wine, I knew all I needed was the flimsiest of excuses to make it.

Unfortunately, I forgot one teensy detail: I CAN'T BAKE.

Honestly, have I completely lost my mind? Don't answer that.

I don't know why I attempt these things. I need suggestions for something to use my KitchenAid mixer for that is NOT mixing, because I haven't had a baking success since August '08. And as you can clearly see, I define success as "able to be spackled together with frosting and envisioned as straight with one eye closed."

NOTE: It would not make a good planter. I can't garden, either. I am domesticity's enemy.

This experiment, though, was a truly phenomenal failure. (Toldja so.)

It all began with such promise. 1 stick of butter plus 3/4 cup crushed pretzels into the mixer.

Then 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1 egg. Then another 1/2 cup pretzels.

At this point it seemed incredibly wet for a dough. Alarm bells sounded, but I ignored them because I CAN'T BAKE.

Onto two sheets of plastic wrap, flattened into a disk, and into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

When it comes out, you roll it out—between the plastic—to a 12-inch round.

Next, you peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap and gently place the round into your removable-bottom tart pan. (I used a springform pan because I don't have a removable-bottom tart pan. Though I do find removable bottoms, as a concept, quite appealing.)

This is when hell met handbasket. Holy mess. The dough was way too wet, and it and the plastic wrap had developed a completely codependent relationship. They were all, "I need you, I love you, I can't live without you!"

So I did what anyone who CAN'T BAKE would do: I glopped the gluey mess into the bottom of the pan and pressed it in, all the while knowing it would stick.

I blind-baked for 30 minutes, then baked another 10 to 15—in my case, 20—"until firm" (which it never became). Here's the finished product.

See, there's something not quite right about that. Let's take a closer look.

Yeah, those holes? That's not a good sign. But I blithely followed the recipe anyway, chopping 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and melting it over low heat.

Then I brushed it all over the surface of the "tart," hoping it would seal any holiness. Holeyness? This was not a blessed endeavor, at any rate.

Still, I assumed it would pass the Joey test—sugar, eggs, flour, chocolate, pretzels ... all good.

So I made the ganache. A cup and a half of heavy cream plus 3/4 pound milk chocolate, chopped. I brought the cream to a simmer, pulled the pan off the heat, dumped in the chocolate, and let it sit for five minutes.

A quick whisk, and you have creamy, silky, I-think-I-could-drown-happy ganache.

I poured the ganache into the "crust," shoved the whole disaster into the refrigerator, poured myself a stiff drink, and did the dishes. YES, I DID.

I figured you'd need photographic evidence.

Speaking photographically, I wasn't able to take a picture of the finished product until we arrived at the beach, whereupon I absconded with the sister-in-law's miracle maker. Tell me I don't absolutely have to have this camera.

Detail 7

Ooooh .... Aaaaahhhhh ...

This shot was taken mere moments before the mother's husband had to hack away at the thing with a butcher knife in order to serve it. The sentence, "Move from there, I don't want to stab you," was uttered.

I CAN'T BAKE. Would someone please remind me of this the next time I get one of these cockamamie notions? I suppose it did, in a sense, pass the Joey test. People ate it. But it was painful to hear the CRACK! of the fork hitting the plate once it managed to conquer the tooth-breaking "crust."

So I'm afraid salty + sweet is out for now, at least as a product of the Woodside galley. I'll just have to indulge in my other favorite combo: K + cocktail.


at: 1:01 PM said...

It may not have turned out the way YOU wanted... but WE loved it. And we can't all be Joey. (What's with you guys and the beer-n-cookies love?)



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.