Chocolate Caramel Tarts, Croissants, and A New Way to Eat

January 29, 2012

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I have spent the last few weeks cleaning out my pantry, fridge, cupboards, and freezer. My son, Levi, has Eczema. I grew up with eczema, it was such a burden. I lived with it my whole life, tried everything and nothing worked until I met the amazing Dr. Chen(in 1990), a Chinese doctor who worked miracles.

He created this magic potion. It was purple, had a faint odor and came packaged in little 2 ounce containers. I would order 5 at a time. My Eczema went away within days. I no longer had chapped hands, and I could put my hands under water with out rubbing them until they bled. I recently called Dr. Chen to inquire about his special, purple ointment. His son answered the phone and informed me that his dad had retired. I begged, pleaded, and hoped he would whip up a batch for my little Levi. He was no longer in the country and did not give his son the secret formula. Shame on him!

After consulting with a homeopath and reading lots of literature, I have decided to start with omitting the gluten from our diet. Cleaning out the pantry has been liberating. If you have visited my blog in the past, you know how hard it is for me to throw anything out. The white flour and white sugar are no exception.

Croissants were always on my “to do” list and using 7 cups of flour was just what I needed to achieve my goal. I had had my eye on Chad Robertson’s recipe from Tartine(here is a good step by step on how to make Tartine’s croissants). The page was earmarked for years in the original Tartine book , thus,I threw my hat into the ring and spent 28 hours making something none of us were going to eat(Eli snuck one and commented that toasted and eaten the 2nd day was something just shy of spectacular). Laced with some Scharffenberger chocolate, I couldn’t imagine it being anything less than scrumptious. However, next time I am feeling the need to make Tartine’s croissants, I plan on making the 5 hour drive up to S.F. and simply buy a dozen(or two).

In addition to the croissants, I made a double batch of Short Pastry Dough. While the dough rested in the fridge, I whipped up a batch of Dorie’s bittersweet ganache. After blind baking the tartlets, I filled them with some leftover homemade caramel , topped that with this lovely ganache. Once set, finished them off with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Kind of like a Twix Bar on steroids.

Additional pastry dough allowed me to make two French Apple Tarts. Gave one to my friend Julie, whom gave me the recipe for this short pastry dough(she just completed cooking school and we spent a day in my kitchen – such fun)! After drizzling the 2nd one with left over caramel, I sent it to work with the hubs.

Omitting gluten is the first stop on our journey to eliminating and curing Eczema. I look forward to the day when Levi can stop scratching and wear shorts with confidence.

Julie’s Short Pastry Dough
makes 3 9″ tarts(I made one 14″ rectangular, 1 9″ round, and 12 3″ mini tarts)
The tart dough can be made days in advance. Whatever you don’t use, freeze and save for another treat!

 12 oz. organic pastry flour
6 oz. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, cold
2.25 oz whole, organic eggs(I used 1 whole egg and one egg yolk)
1/2 tsp. vanilla

• in the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt.
• add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like small peas.
• combine the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and add to the mixture. pulse just until the dough comes together. you do not want to over mix it.
• wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
• this dough does not roll out easily. it is better if it is pieced together in your tart pan.
• preheat oven to 375*. spray desired tart pans and place on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet.
• piece dough together in tart pan(feels similar to play dough) and make sure you press gently in the creases.
cover with wax paper and fill with pastry weights, pennies, or dried beans.
• to blind bake the shells, bake for 8-17 minutes, depending upon what size tart pan you are using. let cool on wire rack.
• for the apple tarts, I baked the tart shells for about 12 minutes. then layered the apples on top. sprinkled with 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar and brushed with a bit of apricot jam. baked them for about 45 minutes(turned the oven down to 325*), or until the apples started to bubble a bit and felt soft to the touch.
• for the chocolate caramel tarts, I let the tart shells cool completely before filling them(at this point, they can be frozen and used for another dessert at another time). once cooled, I filled them with homemade caramel and then topped that with homemade ganache. once the ganache set for about 20 minutes, I sprinkled them with Fleur de Sel.

Dorie Greenspan’s Ganache
adapted from Baking from Home to Yours
yield: 2 cups

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
4 Tbsp.(2 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed.

• put the chopped chocolate into a glass bowl.
• bring the cream to a slow boil. pour half the cream over chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds.
• using a rubber spatula, stir in concentric circles. pour in the remainder of the cream and blend.
• when the ganache is smooth and shiny, add the butter piece by piece. don’t over mix.
• fill the tarts with a few tablespoons of ganache. sprinkle with a bit of fleur de sel and let sit in the fridge.
• put the leftover ganache in a glass bowl, cover with plastic. once set  roll the chocolate between your hands, roll in cocoa powder and store in
the fridge.

More Tarts around the Web:
Chocolate-Caramel Tart – Lemons and Anchovies
French Apple Tart – Georgia Pellegrini
Short Dough – Smitten Kitchen
Croissants – The Wandering Girl



{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah @ pão e queijo January 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

These look amazing! I’m loving the new design of your blog. Sorry to hear your son is having skin issues– hopefully the gluten-free diet will work. Often the food we consume creates external problems.


2 Susan January 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Thanks, Sarah. I am a firm believer that food can be both a healer and a curse. I am hoping we see some results by removing the gluten. If not, we will move on to other things!


3 Elizabeth Aquino January 29, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Everything you write about and make sounds delightful! I am glad that I stumbled upon your blog and look forward to reading it regularly. I wanted to tell you, at the risk of seeming nosy, that while I’m not sure what city you’re in, I know of a fantastic homeopath/nutritionist and a Chinese doctor in Los Angeles/Santa Monica. The homeopath helped my friend’s son with terrible eczema. If you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me! elsophie AT gmail DOT com


4 Susan January 30, 2012 at 7:46 am

Thanks so much, Elizabeth. Yes, I do live in LA and have a great md who is homeopathic. However, I am open to trying something new! I will contact you! Thanks for reaching out and sharing the info.


5 Bronya January 30, 2012 at 4:40 am

So sorry to hear about your son, I hope you find a good solution

Next time you’re having a clear out, cani come to tea. The chocolate caramel tarts looks amazing!


6 Kim January 30, 2012 at 4:52 am

These tartlets looks awesome! I wish you good luck with the non gluten diet, it’s certainly not easy!


7 Susan January 30, 2012 at 7:45 am

Thanks, Kim. So far we are doing well. Have mastered an oatmeal cookie and gluten free corn dogs are better than the read thing!!


8 Maria January 30, 2012 at 8:36 am

Love the new site! Josh has eczema. it is not fun! If you find that special potion, let us know:)


9 marla {family fresh cooking} January 30, 2012 at 8:41 am

Such a pretty post Susan. Best of luck with the new meal plan 🙂


10 Nancy@acommunaltable January 30, 2012 at 10:20 am

Love the face lift!!! And I am with you, I think I’d rather drive to SF for a good croissant than make them at home – my hats off to you to for tackling it!
And those little tarts? Oh, they’ve got twix bars beat by a mile – absolutely no comparison!


11 Chi Chi January 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I am so glad you are sharing this, we are going through the same thing with my daughter! She is only five and since no one else in the family suffered from eczema, it took some time coming to the no-gluten conclusion. I’ve never really had to think in this way, about what food we eat. Hopefully our angel will find some relief in a gluten-free diet. Thank you again for sharing!


12 Susan January 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Hi Chi Chi! Did your daughter’s Eczema heal by removing the gluten? And if so, did you omit any other food groups? If this doesn’t work, I am going to remove eggs(although he doesn’t really eat any eggs), test that for a few weeks and then regroup.


13 Chi Chi January 31, 2012 at 12:39 pm

We have not gone totally GF yet. We started by eliminating refined sugar and she is doing much better. Her most severe case of Eczema came at holiday time with all the rich, sweet desserts. I can tell you that her condition HAS improved with just this slight modification. If she has an “itchy” spell, we use a mix of organic coconut oil and jojoba oil right after bath time. No more chemical-laden soaps and lotions, less refined sugar, and soon to come–a GF diet. I’m a little intimidated with the pricey-ness of the different flours but we really have no other option.


14 Susan February 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Hi Chi Chi – I have tried coconut oil on his skin, but didn’t think to combine it with the Jojoba. I am so going to try that. My poor guy itches in his sleep and I feel his pain. We have cut way down on our white sugar as well. I am hoping to start seeing some results. And yes, the flours are so pricey. But if you make an AP mix, it seems to take the sting out. I use Shauna’s suggestion of 700g of protein flours to 300g of starch flours. I keep it in the cupboard and use it when every I need to make something. Good luck!


15 Chi Chi February 13, 2012 at 11:39 am

Thank you for the flour suggestion! I am definitely going to try it out.

Good luck to you as well!

16 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. January 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

fabulous!! The look of your site is fantastic as well


17 Susan January 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Thanks, Alison! Still a bit to do, but mostly done. Have a fabulous Monday eve!


18 Mercedes January 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm

These all look so lovely! I will keep this dough and ganache recipe for reference. I would love one of the chocolate caramel tarts right now!


19 Eden January 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I swear, people must think I’m a war child with my aversion to throwing out food. Its weird. I have no problem throwing out other things around the house that aren’t in use (old clothes, etc) but food is hard for me too, so I hear ya!

I love croissants but any pastry involving flakes is far too time consuming for me. After doing soooo many croissants while in culinary school, I really appreciate the fact that I know a good bakery around the corner!


20 Susan January 31, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Eden, I could have used you during those 28 hours. I questioned everything I did. And, would love the opportunity to make sooooo many croissants in culinary school….sounds kind of fun to me.


21 Eden January 31, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Oh, hahaha I wasn’t complaining. Culinary school was bootcamp of sorts but I had a blast! Have you considered going?


22 Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media] January 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I had no idea omitting gluten from one’s diet could help with Eczema. I’ll remember this. I learn something new everyday!


23 Esi January 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm

You always teach so much and I love it. This baking you’ve been doing is impressive.


24 Lori @ RecipeGirl January 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Oh my goodness… bye bye gluten! It might be easier than you think… at home. It’s so easy to control at home, and you have so many options. My Mom (gluten free) has the toughest time going out to dinner. Hope it works to alleviate the uncomfortableness for Levi!


25 Susan January 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Yes, going out or playdates at other homes is the challenge. I don’t buy things like goldfish or anything with additives, so that was always super attractive to him when going to others. Now, it’s even more attractive and he has admitted to not having the will power!


26 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen January 31, 2012 at 12:57 am

Wow, everything looks so amazing! I’m in awe of those beautiful croissants and I just want to dive into those chocolate caramel tarts.


27 cindy January 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm

those tarts sound amazing! you had me at caramel, but a twix on steriods…I’m convinced!
I had a little boy with terrible eczema when I was a daycare teacher and it always broke my heart. I hope your son’s eczema clears up!


28 Susan January 31, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Thanks Cindy. It is gettting better and he is adjusting so well. He know asks if something has “gluten” in it. And, to be honest, the food I am creating is shockingly good….It’s a win win for everyone in my household!


29 Amanda January 31, 2012 at 8:04 pm

These are so neat. And you blog is GORGEOUS!!! I love what you have done! Sorry I was MIA and didnt get a chance to tell you sooner!


30 HeatherChristo February 1, 2012 at 3:47 am

The tarts are gorgeous, the blog is gorgeous! Very nice Susan. Thank you for the eczema tip too- my daughter suffers and I do mildly- and have never heard that.


31 Brooke @ Food Woolf February 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

I have a feeling you’ll be spending a lot of time reading Deliciously Organic! Good luck with the new way of eating!


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