The second session of our cookbook club was another success! We reviewed Donna Hay’s The New Easy and it got generally got really good feedback (more on that later). We had over 10 members present and a couple of members made two recipes from the book; it was a feast to say the very least. I made a dessert this round since our last cookbook didn’t have any treats in it and I made a Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart as shown in the photos. Next cookbook club I’ll try to remember to my camera so I can document the event better to share with you all.
The positives about the cookbook were great photography, good combinations of ingredients, and generally easy. Personally, I think Donna Hay has some of the best food styling and photography. Her shots are clean and make really good use of negative space. Not only do I find myself wanting to make the recipes, but I generally end up saying “ooohhh, pretty” to most of her photos. The combination of ingredients is usually spot on for something new, fresh, and delicious. Her recipes are often a great starting point if you feel like adapting recipes to suit what you may have in your pantry already. Overall, the recipes we tested were easy, but not quick.
The negatives were not necessarily quick, had many unusual ingredients, and too many assumptions. The first negative of the cookbook ties into the other two. For some of the recipe members spent a lot of time hunting down ingredients that were not readily available at the local grocery store. Some of the recipes had ingredients people had never heard of and had no idea how to use again. The assumptions in the directions were a bit of a problem as the recipes were so concise sometimes the reader felt like they were left hanging not quite sure what to do next. None of the negatives were debilitating however, everyone made their chosen recipe and all the recipes were tasty overall.
For my recipe I found that the directions lacked specifications around making caramel. Since I have a sweet tooth the size of the Grand Canyon, I make caramel on the regular and was comfortable doing so with little direction. I have adapted the recipe below to make it “easier” for you all who may not be as comfortable with it (ironic given the title of the cookbook I obtained the original recipe from). I loved this tart. It wasn’t over the top sweet; it uses dark chocolate which helps balance the flavour profile well.
There was a 2-way tie for the favourite recipe from The New Easy. One was the Thai Chicken Salad with Coconut Dressing and the other was the Celery Apple Salad. The Thai Chicken Salad was hearty and would be perfect for lunches the next day if any leftovers remained. It had a great balance of flavours with coconut milk, lime and cilantro. Everyone loved the freshness of the Celery Apple Salad and how it used all of the celery (including leaves) leaving little food waste.
It looks as though our next cookbook will be Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. I’m interested in the outcome of this next one as I’ve had this cookbook for some time. I’m looking forward to sharing our results with you!
Decadent Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart made with dark chocolate, luscious caramel and a chocolate base.
20 minPrep Time
45 minCook Time
1 hr, 5 Total Time
- 10 tbsp / 150 gr unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup / 110 gr icing sugar
- 1/3 cup / 35 gr Dutch cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups / 225 gr all-purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- flaky sea salt, to serve (garnish)
- 3/4 cup / 180 ml whipping cream
- 6 tbsp / 90 gr unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups / 330 gr sugar
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml whipping cream
- 4.5 oz / 125 gr dark chocolate, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180° C).
- Place 10 tbsp butter and sugar in a food processor until pale in colour and fluffy. Add cocoa, egg yolks, and vanilla, process until a smooth dough forms.
- Press dough into 26 cm loose-bottomed fluted tart tin (to about 5 mm thick on bottom and sides). Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked. Set aside.
- To make caramel, place whipping cream and 6 tbsp of butter in a medium sauce pan until melted. Set aside. Place sugar and water in a large sauce pan over low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil without stirring until dark golden brown (340°F/170°C if you have a candy thermometer, if not this took me exactly 13 minutes from when the mixture started to boil). Remove from heat and CAREFULLY whisk in the butter/cream mixture (it will bubble up and splatter). Return the pan to low heat and stir until mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour into pastry shell and refrigerate until firm.
- To make the chocolate glaze, heat the 1/2 cup whipping cream over low heat. Add chocolate and stir until melted. Pour over caramel layer and refrigerate until firm.
- Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and cut into wedges to serve.