Week 7 of Bake Off saw the tent taken over by caramel in three challenges all inspired by the sweet substance! The signature saw the bakers tackle a decorative tart flavoured with caramel, the technical saw the bakers recreating a much-loved chocolate biscuit bar with caramel and for the showstopper, the bakers had to make a caramel flavoured dessert with a sugar dome. I chose to tackle the signature challenge and took inspiration from one of my favourite Youtube channels and made this Caramel Baked Cheese Tart!
I have long been a fan of Nebokgom Cafe’s videos. They are a South Korean dessert cafe and make cafe vlogs but have also shared some of their recipes, including their brownie cookies. I have always loved their tarts with just how complex and layered they are and I decided to follow the idea of their matcha tart in the video below. It looks like a matcha custard topped with cashew nuts and then is topped with cream, a mousse, a sponge and then matcha cream.
While I didn’t want the hassle of as many layers in the tart, I did like the idea of having contrasting creams alongside the tart filling, and for caramel week, topping the tart with caramel cream was the easiest way. My tart filling is inspired by cheese tarts and is a cream cheese based custard which has rum-soaked raisins inside for little bursts of sweetness. The raisins simply need to be soaked in the rum before you start baking – the longer the better! Like a custard filling, it is baked until the centre has a slight wobble to it as it will continue to cook and set after coming out of the oven.
And to play on the caramel theme, I decided to make a brown sugar pastry, which follows the same method as normal shortcrust pastry except it is made with brown sugar. I use eggs as the binding agent which makes this pastry fantastically tender. This makes more pastry than is needed to line the tart but that is for the decoration, which is a flower wreath placed on top of the tart and dusted with icing sugar. This little flourish can help hide any imperfections on the fluted edge but gives it a professional finish.
For the brown sugar pastry:
- 250g plain flour
- 50g soft light brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 120g margarine or unsalted butter
- 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
For the cheese filling:
- 60g raisins, soaked in 2 tbsp rum and 1 tbsp boiling water for 20 minutes
- 180g cream cheese
- 40g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- Handful of walnut halves
For the salted caramel:
- 100g granulated sugar
- 50g margarine or unsalted butter
- 100ml double cream
- Large pinch of sea salt
For the whipped cream:
- 300ml double cream
In a food processor, combine together the flour with the brown sugar and salt until well mixed. Add in the cold margarine or butter and mix until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the egg and egg yolk until the mixture just comes together into a soft dough. If the mixture needs a bit more moisture, use cold water. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few seconds to bring together into a ball. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and flatten out into a disc and chill for 1 hour.
Next, prepare the salted caramel. Melt the sugar with the butter in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally until the mixture turns a deep golden colour. Remove from the heat immediately and add in the double cream and stir to incorporate. Mix through the salt and then pour out into a bowl to cool completely. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.
Take about 80% of the chilled pastry and roll out on a lightly floured surface until it is 3mm thick. Transfer to a 6.5inch fluted tart tin and line the base and sides with the pastry, ensuring the pastry is flush with the sides of the tin. Trim off any excess using a knife and return to the fridge to chill for 45 minutes. With the remaining pastry and any trimmings, roll out to the same thickness and using a flower cutter, cut out as many flower shapes as possible to make the decoration. Set these on a small tray or plate and chill.
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan.
Use a fork to dock the pastry to prevent it from rising while baking. Line the inside of the tart with foil and fill with ceramic baking beans if you have them. Bake the pastry for 15 minutes until the pastry has begun to turn golden at the edges. Remove the foil and baking beans and bake the pastry for an extra 5 minutes until the base has turned golden. Let the pastry cool.
While the pastry is baking, make the cheese filling. Whisk the cream cheese with the sugar until the sugar has begun to dissolve. Add in the vanilla extract and the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Fold through the rum-soaked raisins. Pour the filling into the baked pastry case, leaving a few millimetres from the top. Then place the walnut halves on top. Bake the filling for 20 minutes until the centre has a slight wobble to it. Allow the entire tart to cool completely and lift out onto a wire rack or a plate.
Whisk together the double cream until it forms soft peaks. Take out about one third of the cream and set aside. To the rest of the cream, add in about 100g of the salted caramel and whisk until it holds its shape in the whisk. Transfer the salted caramel cream to a piping bag and set aside.
Turn the same fluted tart tin upside down and lightly grease the outer 2cm with margarine. Arrange the pastry flowers in a ring around the edge of the base of the tin, brushing each with milk so they stick together. Bake for around 10 to 12 minutes until the pastry is cooked and has turned golden.
To assemble the tart, place the plain whipped cream on top of the cheese filling, levelling out with the top of the tart. Place the pastry flower ring on top of the cream so it covers the flutes of the tart. Dust the decorative edge with icing sugar. Then cutting out a large hole off the piping bag, pipe large blobs of the caramel cream starting from the edge and then tapering off to the centre. Once you have gone round the tart once, repeat the process moving inwards, continuing to taper towards the centre. Then pipe a large blob in the centre. Drizzle over some caramel in an attractive pattern on the surface.
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