On my first visit to Malaysia, I almost bought a big box of "Ferero Rocher" at an unbelievable price, only to realize that it is a duplicate product (note the missing "R") at the time of billing. The box, the logo, the wrapping, everything looked authentic. Such was the fascination for these lovely smooth, nutty flavoured chocolates, that I was terribly disappointed then. I fondly remember the times that I bit into these yummy chocolate, every time I taste nutella. I was super excited to see this month's challenge for the same reason and enjoyed this one every step along the way.
We typically have a few approaches to problem solving in computer science. The most popular trick is to modularize or break down problems into smaller sub-problems, solve the smaller problems and combine those solutions to obtain the final solution. This is called the "divide-and-conquer" approach. I practically adapted the same for making these tarts.
Four components to the tart and each one a lengthy procedure by itself with a proofing or chilling period. It had to be done this way in my completely chaotic and disorganized kitchen.
So looking at the recipe, it seemed simple enough. Roast hazelnuts and caramelize them. Except that hazelnuts are not available in this part of the world. So that left me the option to go with walnuts or almonds and I picked walnuts. Next was the Chocolate Hazelnut Thing - I had to again use Nutella here. That seemed simple enough. The tart shells were a regular affair. That seemed fine too.
The tricky part seemed to be the Hazelnut Mousse. Making eggless custard was not the problem here. Haven't we been making custards eggless in this part of the world from ever since I can remember? For me, the tricky part was the use of gelatin. I had never used gelatin before and I was not sure how long it takes to set. I should have probably made the mousse first, instead of making everything else and waiting for the mousse the set. Hmm... Lesson learnt.
Please bear with the lengthy post and read on till the end. I promise you there is a point to my philandering ways ;)
Please find the original recipe from Trissalicious at the given link. I am presenting the converted-to-eggless and scaled-down-by-half recipe here:
First the tart base. Probably you should bake this last.
Tart base adapted from Matt Moran:
Ingredients: (converted from weight to volume)
Cocoa powder - 6 tbsp
Cold butter - 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
Caster Sugar - 3 tbsp
Egg - 1 ( replace with 3-4 tbsp of cream)
All purpose flour - 1 1/4 cup
Baking Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
1. Place the butter, caster sugar, cocoa powder in a food processor and pulse until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
2. Add the cream, flour and baking powder and process until the mixture just comes together.
3. Lay the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a disc measuring around 2 cm in height. 4. Cover with plastic wrap and place int he refrigerator for an hour to rest.
5. Place the dough back on to a lightly floured surface and roll out until around 2 mm thick.
6. Cut the dough into circles, 1 cm wider than the shell, to form the wall.
8. When ready, blink bake for 10 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C.
9. Once done, bake for another 5 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Hazelnut Mousse (adapted from Baking and Pastry, Culinary Institute of America):
Milk - 3/4 cup
Caster sugar - 3 tbsp
Omit the 1 1/2 eggs from the original recipe.
Cornflour - 2 tbsp
Nutella - 2 tbsp
Cream - 1/2 cup
Gelatin - 1 tsp
1. Mix the sugar and cornflour with about 1/4 cup of milk and make a smooth paste.
2. Heat the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and when it comes to a boil, quickly add the milk-cornflour paste stirring all the while.
3. Keep cooking until the mixture becomes thick.
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
6. Mix the Nutella with the custard using a whisk.
7. Semi-whip the cream and keep aside.
8. Place the gelatin crystals in a small bowl. Pour a table spoon of water to soften the gelatin crystals.
9. Heat the gelatin bowl in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
10. Mix the gelatin into the custard.
11. Fold the custard into the whipped cream.
12. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
Chocolate-Hazelnut thing (adapted from David Chang's Momofuku Cookbook)
Nutella - 2 tbsp
Chocolate (semi-sweet or milk) - 4 tbsp
Oil - 2 drops
Salt - 1 pinch
Corn Syrup - 1/2 tsp
Crushed Caramelized walnuts - 2 tbsp
1. Place all ingredients in a microwave bowl.
2. Microwave in 20 second intervals on high until the chocolate has melted.
3. I repeated the process twice.
4. Add the caramelized walnuts until ready to use.
Water - 1 tbsp
Toasted walnuts - 3/4 cup
1. Place walnuts on a roasting tray.
2. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes until the walnuts appear slightly browned. Slightly rearrange the walnuts in-between the microwave duration.
3. Crush the roasted walnuts.
4. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan.
5. Add the toasted walnuts and take the pan off the heat.
6. Mix the nuts until the texture changes to become sugary.
7. Bring the pan back on the heat.
8. Mix carefully until the sugar turns into golden caramel color.
9. Place on parchment paper to cool.
To assemble the tarts, pipe some hazelnuts mousse on to the chocolate tart shells and then top with the chocolate hazelnut thing and a few caramelized walnuts.
Verdict Given the ingredients that go into this tart, there is hardly any doubt as to how it would have tasted. The texture turned out well too. Just that I should have taken care of the order in which these components had to be made. First the hazelnut mousse, then the dough for the tart shell, caramelized nuts while the dough is chilling, chocolate hazelnut spread when the tart shells are baked and allowed to cool down. So the moral here is, even if you adopt the divide and conquer approach, the order in which you solve the sub-problems matter.