Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dulce de Leche......and the Sweetness of Life!!!!!


Today was a great day! Ever had a day where you realize at the end of it...it's what life is all about!?? That was what today was for me. Catching up with friends over brunch and spending the afternoon creating new ideas in the kitchen. 

Do you ever have weeks where you can barely remember what needs to be done or what you did yesterday? 40 hour work weeks are completed on Wed. - Thurs......and there is still more to do. That is what my 2012 has consisted of so far! 

If you agree, lets hope life slows down soon.....but until then I guess I'll just stick to baking for stress relief or at the very least a distraction. (Passing on the calories to co-workers...isn't a bad outcome either...just don't tell them I said that! LOL) 

Every time I bake, I attempt to create new ideas. The problem with that is if one ventures out to the internet dozens of similar recipes can be found on one idea thus making it not so exciting. For me, this week was different and I am excited to say my newest idea couldn't be found!!!! (and I thought everything is on the internet...lol) 

I haven't decided yet if this is a good or a bad outcome. Either the idea isn't that great or the "cupcake phenomena" is still all the rage so I am safe to say mini tarts haven't quite made the mainstream yet....ha ha!! I am just going to stick with the latter. So I hope you enjoy this newest venture!

To celebrate the "sweetness of life", I offer you Dulce de Leche Chocolate Mini Tarts.....just a "little" gift from me to you today!


Dulce de Leche Chocolate Mini Tarts

Mini Tart Shells:
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/3 C sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla 
1 C Unbleached Flour
Pinch of Salt

Dulce de Leche:
I Can Condensed Milk (unopened)

Ganache:
1⁄2 C Heavy Cream
4 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
Grey Sea Salt for garnish

To make Dulce de Leche (Note: I usually make this the night before to let it cool):
Place can of milk (unopened) with label removed in a 1 or 2-Qt. Saucepan filled 3/4 with cold water. Place on stove over medium heat. On a low boil, cook for 2 - 2 1/2 hrs checking water level while cooking.  (Adding water as needed).  Remove pan from heat and let can cool. Do not open can until completely cool!!!! 

(There are many other ways to make this - microwave, oven, etc….you may want to find which way you prefer. This is my favorite!!)


To make mini tart shells:
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in flour and salt until combined. Using a small scoop, drop into an ungreased mini muffin tin. Using a mini tart shaper, form dough into a tart shape. (A tool worth owning, I love the one from Pampered Chef ) Prick bottom of each tart crust with a fork. Place in fridge for 20 min. to chill. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes (crust will puff slightly while baking). Transfer tarts to rack and cool. 

Once the shells are cool, fill 3/4 with Dulce de Leche and place in fridge for 1-2 hrs to chill. (Any extra sauce can be used for ice cream, muffins, french toast, etc...enjoy!)


To make ganache: 
Bring cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Place chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream and let sit for 1 minute.  Stir slowly with whisk until smooth. Spoon ganache evenly into chilled shells filled with dulce de leche, sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until set.  Serve chilled. 


I'll share with you a little secret: each item in this post (Mini Shells, Dulce de Leche and Ganache) are great individual recipes to keep around. You can use the shells with other fillings and use the Dulce de Leche or Ganache as toppings/ingredients with other desserts..the sky is the limit!!! (Bread Pudding, Fondue, Ice Cream, etc). Hope you can use these recipes in the future as much as I do. Enjoy!

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