Monday, January 02, 2017


Yep, that’s what it’s been like at my house. I’ve attempted two desserts—one for Christmas Eve and one for New Year’s Day—and both have been failures in one way or another.

Desserts are my forte and I usually attack them with gusto and typically produce great results. But recipe errors, missteps, and my inability to make a presentable layer cake all contributed to these epic fails. Well, maybe not epic. Both desserts were tasty, but not without some wasted time, ingredients and consternation.

Let’s start with the Christmas Eve dessert. I actually found this dessert back on November 28th and excitedly sent the recipe to my brother, who we would be spending the holidays with. We love to collaborate in the kitchen, so I wanted his approval for the Four-Layer Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart. He wholeheartedly agreed, so I made sure I packed all the requisite ingredients before making the trek down to SoCal.

Now, I had read the recipe, but had failed to notice that it required a 13 ¾ x 4 ¼-inch tart pan. This is not a standard item in any kitchen I know of and on Christmas Eve it was going to be hard to find. Actually, make that impossible. We made a beeline to Jane’s Cakes in La Canada, who have everything under the sun for baking, but no tart pan in that size. (Note: subsequent searches have found that a 13 ¾ x 4 1/4 pan doesn’t seem to exist. 14 x 4 or 14 x 4.5 is available however.) So we had to make do with an 8-inch round tart pan, which is roughly the same size, just different in shape.

This recipe takes hours to make, as each layer has to be made and then chilled or baked and cooled. My brother and I should have made the tart shell dough the night before, but were having too good a time with friends, and wine was involved, and well…you know. So we began on Christmas Eve morning. We made the dough with no problem. Then chilled it for 2 hours. Then we kneaded and rolled and got it into the pan and chilled the dough again for 30 minutes. Finally, after 3 hours of the clock ticking by, we were able to bake the first layer. Gonna be a long day…

We let the crust cool, and moved on to the fudge cookie layer. I thought that the ingredient list felt like it was missing something. The only liquid was egg and there was no baking soda or powder. But we persevered, made the dough, and popped it into the crust and then the oven. We waited 25 minutes and no crack in the layer, as the recipe indicated. Another 5 and still no crack. We finally had to take it out of the oven before the requisite crack appeared as it was pulling away from the sides and looked to be overdone.

Again, we let the two layers cool to room temp and then set about to make the caramel layer. Four hours off the clock….

NOTE: Now you might think that making this tart was all we had to do for dinner, given the amount of time we have thus far spent on it, but that was not the case. We also had to grate 2 pounds of fresh horseradish for our beef tenderloin, prepare 6 pounds of potatoes, clean and trim brussels sprouts and broccoli, set the table, prep hors d’oeuvres. Arghh…I was definitely second guessing my decision to make this dessert!