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In which I avoid political stress by thinking about tarts and other pretty things.

People in the U.S. are pretty distracted right now because of the presidential inauguration tomorrow. I am not overly stressed about the inauguration, myself, because I've never paid much attention to them. Pomp and ceremony don't do much for me. If I were the President-elect, I would have the swearing-in ceremony followed by a nice dinner, spend the rest of the evening eating peppermints while watching Gilmore Girls, and then get down to bidness the next day while wearing a smart suit.

Of course, most people aren't really concerned about the inauguration so much as the actual business following the inauguration, and I get it. It's a big change. People don't like change. Many people don't trust 70-year-olds who spray tan because it's weird. I get it. But it's happening, regardless, and, if everyone would take some deep breaths and concentrate on being forces of good, we'd have a lot less to worry about, in general. Mood begets mood. You know what else begets a good mood, at least for me? Thinking about baking.

I wanted to continue with chocolate this week because it has so many applications and because people love chocolate. So I'm sharing with you today a chocolate caramel tart I made a few months ago but never blogged about because I was busy training for a new job. I was SO PROUD of this tart, not because it was perfect (it was far from perfect) but because I actually completed a tart! With the crust intact! With a caramel THAT I MADE!

I got the recipe from this book:

I didn't know if I'd like the Bake It Better series, but it turns out that I do. They offer lots of additional tips and tricks for baking whatever type of baked good is focused on in the book. The recipe is a little fancier than what I made because I didn't have a rectangular tart pan or pistachios or edible silver leaf (don't you just hate it when you run out of edible silver leaf?) and because I didn't want to bother making chocolate curls. I wasn't serving the tart to the Queen, after all. I was serving it to my husband, who would likely chop off big hunks of it with a tablespoon to eat in the wee hours of the night. (We are SUPER classy.)

I'm about to include pictures of the entire recipe because I couldn't find it anywhere on the Internet, but I'm clearly sourcing it in the picture above. I'll be happy to remove the pictures if anyone asks me to. (Calm down, Internet. You're nothing without shared recipes and Pinterest.)

My tart would be round with none of the stuff on top. This basic white girl was about to make a basic chocolate caramel tart.

I don't have a lot of details to add to the actual recipe because all I did was follow the directions as closely as I possibly could. I did replace the 25 grams of ground pistachios in the pastry with ground almonds because that's what I had. It worked fine. Other than THAT, I followed the recipe as slowly and thoughtfully and carefully as I could because, frankly, pastry and tarts scare the poop out of me. The pastry, especially, can crack easily.

I was OBVIOUSLY not great at getting the pastry into the pan, but I did the best I could to patch it up so that it wouldn't leak.

After blind baking:

After it was finished baking:

After I trimmed the edges:

And transferred to the decorative plate:

So that was one terrifying part done. But I was still worried about the caramel. Caramel can be very tricky because it can crystallize and be ruined. There might be logical reasons for this, but I'm pretty certain an evil wizard drops down from the sky and curses it.

At this point, I was thinking I'd ruined it. By doing nothing. Because you're supposed to do nothing as sugar turns into caramel.

But it was fine! I don't know why.

I didn't quite get it as spread out as I could have in the shell, but I couldn't see very well because our kitchen is dark at night, which is what the evil wizard prefers. And it was okay.

Because I wasn't doing any of the superfluous decorations, the two hardest parts were done. Ganache is pretty easy to make. I like easy tasks, like going out in the sun for a little bit of color instead of paying for spray tans.

I didn't take a picture of the chocolate pieces in their bowl, waiting for the hot cream and sugar mixture. I know you're disappointed. Below is the hot cream and sugar mixture, however. Even though it's just sitting there in the pan, it still manages to look delicious. The magic of cream.

And that was it! I then just poured the ganache over the caramel in the pastry shell. I didn't do a great job of it, as, because I couldn't see very well, I didn't get it spread over one part of the caramel, but whatever. She was done!

A few shots of the layers after my husband began destroying it:

And the next morning, in bright sunlight:

It wouldn't have won any beauty contests, but it was a complete tart. I felt quite proud, almost like I'd won a national election and NOT misused a Twitter account afterwards, not that anyone would do that. That would be absurd.

In all seriousness, making fun of public figures for amusement can be enjoyable, but try to do something worthwhile in addition to mocking your fellow humans. Don't just mock--mock and BAKE and then SHARE. #missyswordstoliveby

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