- Chocolate caramel tart + Marshmallows
Cruising on Redhill, we cross over the 405 and make a right on Main Street. Take a left at the first signal, a quick right, a left, another left and Blackmarket is ON the left. Look for the cool ride parked out front. Who needs a big sign with a car like that out front!? Nice.
As I walk up to the front door of this industrial space (yes, I said industrial space) my eardrums are greeted by a gigantic object, landing gear down, wanting safe refuge on the ground. Earplugs please! We’re definitely in John Wayne’s backyard.
An unassuming front door with a cake and crossed swords tell you which one to enter. Suite E. Walk in and everything hits you at once; a multicolored lobby filled with amazing treats, the smell of baked goods and flour, shiny metal utensils hangin’ all around. We are definitely in the right place.
Are you a risk taker? Definitely. I do everything ass-backwards. Got married, went to grad school, dropped out of grad school, had kids, and then went to culinary school. Everything is mixed up, but that’s OK.
Do you take risks with your product? To some extent. With some items we can be more playful, with some of the croissants for wholesale people, they don’t want the craziest flavors. The bottom line—it has to be good. Technique has to be solid and the ingredients have to be good. I like taking risks but the general public still like the boring stuff.
When did food capture you? Not until I met my husband. We were both 17 and his father took us to these fancy restaurants. You see, my family isn’t food oriented. My mom doesn’t cook, my dad eats frozen dinners. I grew up eating dinners in front of the TV by myself, on a tray. It was really sad, like Top Ramen. So it wasn’t until I got folded into my husband’s family and my father-in-law gave me a cookbook the first Christmas I knew him and I said, ‘Wow, you can make food from scratch?’
Who is the most important person in your kitchen? Ugh, we have such a small staff they are all critical. The idea from my standpoint is that I do not want to have a practice where I have to be there, where I am the only one that knows the special blah blah blah. I want the staff to carry on without me, which they do great. It is a team effort. We divvy up the responsibilities, I’ll pitch in, but I’m supposed to be out selling and showing my face, being friendly at the farmers market and getting new accounts. That’s my job.
What pisses you off most? In the food world? I guess I get frustrated with myself, because I have an idea that I can get this and this and this done and I need to spent time on my website, social media, new recipes and it just seems your time evaporates. Don’t get me wrong, though, I also get pissed off when my kids don’t do the dishes or clean up after themselves.
What topic would you talk about if anyone would listen? The basics. The basics! [She throws her hands up.] I judged the OC Fair cupcake competition. On my table alone there were 37 plates of cupcakes. You would think that a few of them would be really stellar, but it seemed that everybody had this idea that if they just followed the recipe of the box, without knowing the behind-the-scenes, like what’s going on in the mixing process, they will make a great cupcake. But at the end of the day, making a decent cake with a few ingredients and understanding the technique is all it takes.
If you could be any chef today, who would it be? I would be me. It is all about team and brand here. We’re not chef-driven.
Black Widow Tart (dark chocolate ganache, caramel cream, chocolate shell)
- Heatproof spatula
- Caramel Cream (see below)
- Chocolate Ganache (see below)
- Chocolate Tart Dough (see below)
- Pour a thin layer of caramel creme into each baked tart shell, almost halfway full. Chill these (on a parchment lined baking sheet) until the caramel is firm.
- Once the ganache is made, while still warm, pour the ganache into the tart shells and chill until set.
- 1-1/2 c. (10-1/2 oz.) sugar
- 6 tbsp. (3 oz.) unsalted butter
- 1 c. (7-1/2 oz.) heavy cream, at room temperature
- Put 1/2 c. of sugar in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until the sugar begins to liquefy. Add the remaining sugar 1/3 c. at a time, stirring constantly. Make sure that the previous quantity of sugar is liquefied before you add the next batch.
- Once all of the sugar is in your pot, continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the melted sugar becomes amber in color, about 7 – 10 minutes total cooking time. The caramelized sugar should look smooth and not grainy, otherwise keep cooking.
- Turn off the heat and add the half of the cream. The mixture will bubble madly; just don’t burn yourself with the steam. Add the remaining cream and stir to combine.
- Now add the butter and stir to combine. If you choose, throw in a pinch or two of sea salt.
- One part dark chocolate : one part cream (1:1) by weight
- Set the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl.
- Pour the cream into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Pour the boiling cream into the chocolate. Whisk to combine (until the mixture is emulsified).
- Flavorings such as vanilla, rum, espresso, etc. can be added to taste at this point. To rewarm the ganache, place the stainless steel bowl over a gently simmering bain marie and stir. Do not over-whisk, but stir with a spoon.
- If your ganache separates (if the cocoa butter precipitates out & lays on top), heat the ganache gently, stir & add a small amount of cream. It should re-emulsify after whisking.
- To glaze a cake, apply a thin layer of ganache to the cake then chill it. Pour the warm glaze over the chilled cake and let the excess drain off. Let the glaze set for a little while then continue with your decorating.
Chocolate Tart Dough
- 4 oz. sugar
- 8 oz. butter (at room temp)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg
- 10 oz. flour (all purpose)
- 2 oz. cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Place the sugar and butter into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the mixture on low speed. You are not trying to make the butter & sugar airy/fluffy, just trying to make them homogenous.
- Add the egg & yolks, one by one, while mixing. Scrape down the bowl. Mix once again to ensure that everything is combined.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined. Add the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
- The tart dough needs to chill for at least 1 hour before it is rolled out. Pat it into a flat circle, then wrap and refrigerate. To make tart shells, roll out the dough while chilled. Once the tart dough is in the pan, let the tart shells rest in the freezer until baked. This decreased the risk of the tart shells shrinking.
- The tart dough should only be rolled out 2 – 3 times for tart shells. After that, you may use the dough like sugar cookie dough, cutting out shapes and baking as needed.
- Roll the dough out on a floured table to 1/8" thick and line your tart pans with the dough. Let chill until firm and bake at 350 until no longer doughy.
- Let the baked tart shells cool. Leave the baked dough in the pans.
- 4 oz. cold water
- 2 tbsp. gelatin (powdered)
- 4 oz. water
- 7-3/4 oz. corn syrup
- 16-1/4 oz. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Greased brownie pan lined with plastic & greased again
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Ice bath
- Candy thermometer
- Thoroughly dissolve the gelatin in the cold water*, in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with whisk attachment.
- Pour the water, corn syrup, sugar & salt into a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, in that order. Bring to a boil, without stirring, and then cook to 240 F. Take the pan off the burner. Leave the thermometer in the pan and shock the bottom of the pan in a bowl of ice water to stop it cooking. Allow the syrup to cool in the saucepan until the temperature is 210 F.
- Pour the syrup over the bloomed gelatin in the mixer bowl. Begin mixing at medium speed. Once the marshmallow thickens, you may increase the mixer speed to high. Whip the mixture for 5 – 10 minutes, until the marshmallow is fluffy, very thick and still warm. By the time it is done, the mixer should be laboring.
- Transfer the marshmallow to the lined, greased pan. Cover with a second piece of greased plastic wrap and press out to even the top. Allow to cure for several hours or even overnight.
- Sift powdered sugar onto a cutting board. Remove the plastic wrap and flip the marshmallow slab onto the board. Sift sugar on the top.
- Cut the marshmallows with scissors or a knife dipped in powdered sugar. Roll the cut edged in more powdered sugar. Store, in a container, indefinitely.
* Cold liquid flavorings like juice, coffee or tea can be substituted for up to 1/2 of the cold water that the gelatin blooms in. For more acidic liquids, use less or the acid will degrade the gelatin, causing the marshmallows to be too sticky. For example, to make:
- Lemon marshmallows, use 1-1/2 oz. cold lemon juice and 2-1/2 oz cold water.
- Coffee marshmallows, use 2 oz. cold coffee & 2 oz. cold water
- Pomegranate marshmallows – 1/2 oz. cold lemon juice, 1-1/2 oz. pomegranate molasses & 2 oz. cold water