I remember the first pie I made. I was 12. My mother had passed away 3 years prior. My sister was in her final years of boarding school. Dad and I were packing a picnic lunch to share with my sister when we visited for free Sunday – the day the boarders were allowed out with their families. I wanted to bring her an apple pie. So armed with a simple cookbook I followed the basic instructions. I came unstuck when the instructions stated ” lined tart pan with pastry”. How do you get this flat bit of pastry into the pan? I couldn’t figure it out so picked up bits and pieces of the pastry and somehow pieced it together like a mosaic. Amazingly it was double crusted – mosaic style! And then I fashioned a few leaves to decorate the top. As I shut my eyes, I can remember eating this pie with my Dad and my sister at the round picnic table by the beach with the sun in our eyes and the wind in our hair. We thought it was fabulous and devoured it and tried to carry on as if everything was normal and our dear Mum had not been taken from us. This first apple pie has very emotional memories of some very difficult times in the years following my mother’s passing as we fumbled on without her. I still always decorate my apple pies with pastry leaves.
 I didn’t mean for this post to be so emotional however the word “pie” always reminds of this time.
Of my first pie.
Without my Mum.

Rachael from Pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!

This month we Daring Bakers are making pies. And yes, I’ve been making pies for a very long time but there is always something to learn like I did when I made that first pie.
I loved the Pate sablee recipe provided by our host Rachael. I found that following her instructions it did not shrink at all.
 And the tart, you ask? Mmmmm. amazing! 

Chocolate and Caramel Tart: 
Servings: 8
Active time: 1 hour altogether
Baking time: 35 minutes altogether
Cooling time: approx. 2 hours altogether
Ingredients
Pâte sablée
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons (75 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) granulated or powdered
sugar, as you prefer
1¾ cups (420 ml) (250 gm) (8¾ oz) all-purpose flour
pinch salt
9 tablespoons (1 stick + 1 tablespoon) (125 gm) (4 ½ oz)
cold butter, diced
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) cold water
Filling 
For the caramel
7 tablespoons (105 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) granulated sugar
7 tablespoons (100ml) whole cream, hot
For the chocolate mousse
2 large eggs
7 tablespoons (100ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2½ oz) powdered sugar (optional)
13 tablespoons (200ml) whole cream
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (280 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) dark
chocolate, broken into pieces
Pâte sablée 
1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly
grease a 9″/24cm or 10″/26cm tart pan, ideally a fluted metal one
with a removable bottom.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and sugar together
with a teaspoon of the water until pale and fluffy. Set aside.
3. Sift the flour and salt together into a mound on a work
surface.
4. Scatter the diced butter over the top of the flour.
Quickly toss the butter in the flour so it’s all coated, then, using your
fingers, rub it in until it resembles breadcrumbs. Keep repeating the operation
until it has the consistency of sand.

 5. Gather the flour mixture into a mound and make a well in
the center.

6. Pour the egg mixture and the rest of the water into the
well. Working quickly, incorporate the wet ingredients into the flour, first
with your fingertips then with a bench scraper until just mixed but not brought
together.
7. Gently gather dough together into a rough ball between
your palms. If it stays together, it is sufficiently moist. If it doesn’t stay
together, add a touch more water and repeat the process.
8. Using the palm of your hand, push away from you to smear
the dough across the work surface, gather it up and repeat until it comes
together into a smooth, soft ball. You aren’t kneading, you are using the
smearing action to bind the elements of the dough without developing the gluten
in the flour. The dough ball shouldn’t spring back when pressed.

 9. Lightly flour your work surface and lightly roll the
dough out to about 3mm thick in a circle to fit your pan. Press the dough
gently into the pan, prick all over the bottom with a fork.

Still a little bit mosaic-like!

 10. Line the tart pan with baking paper and fill with dry beans or pie weights and bake until set, around 9 minutes. Remove pie weights and paper and bake another 6 minutes, until dry.

11. Remove the pastry from the oven and allow to cool in the
pan. Leave the oven on.

Filling

For the caramel 
1. Spread the sugar evenly across the bottom of a small,
heavy-based, non-coated saucepan (it needs to be metallic so you can see the
color). Heat over a medium-low heat without stirring until the sugar starts to
melt and becomes liquid around the edges. Once about a quarter of it has
melted, gently stir continuously with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula
until it turns a deep amber color, a few minutes depending on how high the heat
is.
2. Remove from heat and very slowly and carefully pour all
(100ml) of the hot cream into the caramel, stirring continuously – it will
splutter and steam so be very careful as it is extremely hot. The cream needs
to hot and poured very slowly, otherwise the caramel will seize. Keep stirring
until it stops bubbling and is well combined then set aside to cool.

 For the chocolate mousse

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together with the milk
(and powdered sugar, if using).
2. In a small heavy-based saucepan, bring all (200ml) of the
cream to a boil.
3. Remove cream from heat and add the broken chocolate. Stir
until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is smooth. Let cool a
few minutes.
4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg and milk mixture
and stir gently with a spatula to obtain a smooth cream.
5. Spread the cooled caramel in the bottom of the cooked
tart shell.
6. Gently pour the chocolate cream over the caramel so you
don’t disturb it.

7. Place the tart into the hot oven and bake for 30 minutes,
until the filling has set but is still wobbly in the center.

10. Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool to room
temperature. If using a tart pan with removable bottom, unmold before serving.

 My husband and two teenage children enjoyed this tart and created new memories – happy, joyous memories. 
I am blessed to have such a beautiful family!