Tuesday August 31, 2010

Brave(Tart) New World

Once, I had a friend who told me his favorite color was plaid. Now, I wouldn't say plaid was my favorite color, or even my favorite pattern, but it does indeed have its appeal. For me, it's the balance between compulsive tidiness and playful charm.

When it came to naming this blog, at a certain point, I realized only BraveTart gave me the excuse to make a Tartan Tart. If I had thought ahead, I would have made it lemon just to have a Tart Tartan Tart, or even yuzu and hamachi for a savory Tart Tartan Tart Tartar. But alas, I had no such foresight.

I chose BraveTart. I chose plaid. I chose a photo shoot in outer space. . .

chocolate tart in space

I’m a sucker for a good name. As a child, I’d get vacant eyed in the cosmetics aisle, lost in the hoi polloi haiku of nail polish and lipstick names. And it’s no coincidence that when I auditioned color swatches before painting my kitchen, colors like "dusty brick" and "taupe" never stood a chance next to “tawny port,” “whole wheat,” and “white chocolate.” Or maybe I was just hungry.

Anyway, we had to sort through quite the heap of vaguely clever but not very smart choices. It was a lot like college.

Our first real contender came with “Total Eclipse of the Tart.” It kind of gave us the giggles whenever we said it and inspired a phenomenal photo shoot, but in the end, who has time to type www.totaleclipseofthetart.com? And did I truly want to write a Gastro-Astronomical blog? Okay, well, maybe I did. But I wouldn't put anyone through reading it.

Allusions to our love for prog-rock aside, "Owner of a Lonely Tart" seemed totally misleading. I'm happily married, as is Rosco, and everyone knows that while tarts may not be long for this world, they're never lonely during their brief lifespan. "Achy Breaky Tart" was rejected outright for obvious reasons. We went a little high brow with the geeky allure of “The Tell Tale Tart,” but channeling Poe on a blog written essentially in praise of sugar and cholesterol felt ironic in a bad way. Tell Tale Tart indeed. I already have the LDL level of a truck driver twice my age...

So BraveTart. Plaid. Settled.

A few stray ideas left over from the "Total Eclipse" photo shoot still held our interest, so we decided to try and exorcise the gastro-astronomical theme once and for all.

I had the rather straightforward job of making up a dozen plaid tarts. There are few desserts as dead simple as a tart. Some kind of shell, some kind of filling. In this case, chocolate for the former and the later, and plaid out of various shades of tinted white chocolate. (Click away should you want to give my chocolate tart dough a whirl, but writing a recipe for ganache would be like writing a recipe for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: both are simple enough for a child to manage, and have more to do with good ingredients than skill level, or try the ganache and PB&J recipes everyone has requested.)

The trickiest part of my day came down to drinking enough coffee to have my wits about me, but not so much as to turn the whole thing into a cake wreck.


Rosco, meanwhile, set up a photo shoot for an astronomical event only possible in Candy Land or Wonkaville. At the studio, I found him with a hammer, a bucket of dry ice, a drill, a plastic bottle, a tube of epoxy, a ladder, some Plexiglas, and a whole lot of lighting equipment.

I'm not sure how many technical details you'd like to know, but the CliffsNote version goes like this: Rosco built a “tart stand” that would vent plumes of sublimating carbon dioxide in a circular pattern around the tart. Meaning he would have to take all the pictures from above to get the effect of solar prominences and coronal filaments...

We had a hectic day of hanging from ladders, frantically stuffing dry ice into the neck of a plastic bottle, burning our fingers pouring hot water into the bottle and capping it before all our carbon dioxide escaped through the top, balancing tarts on the stand, keeping Rosco's dog away from the chocolate, and getting the light just so.

But at last, we got the sort of pictures we'd been hoping for.

blue tart in space

If you'd like to try this on your own, you'll need:

1 batch ganache

1 batch chocolate tart dough, baked and cooled

Fill each tart all the way up with ganache, and refrigerate until set. If you want to go for the plaid design, leave a comment and I can send you the full instructions. Otherwise, garnish with some whipped cream and enjoy with toasted nuts, fruit, or caramel.

So, welcome to BraveTart. We're still finding our footing, figuring out what kind of pictures we want to take, what kind of desserts we want to make, which Kentucky farms and restaurants we'd like to feature.

More importantly, what sort of things do you want to read about? What desserts do you want to make? Give us some ideas!

Leave a comment, or visit our Facebook Page to let us know your thoughts. Or, follow us on twitter, we'll follow you right back! Don't forget to subscribe via rss or atom to stay up to date with our goings on.

posted byStellaand filed under:  Chocolate  Sideshow Photos  Tarts

22 comments and counting

Aug 31, 2010 ·  6:33 PM

Those pics are “out of this world” =)

 · sebuck · 

Sep 04, 2010 · 12:54 AM

the plaid is out of this world!!!!

 · K8sMom · 

Sep 04, 2010 ·  9:39 AM

The name really makes me think of Brave Little Toaster more than Braveheart somehow…

 · McGee · http://twitter.com/mcgeelapish

Sep 04, 2010 ·  1:50 PM

I think you could have done a wonderful “Tell Tale Tart” shoot. American gothic set (blacks and coals with hints of red or plum, ancient furniture) with a man in a waistcoat with his face contorted in a look of maddening pain. He would cry into the heavens “It’s the baking of the hideous tart!” There can even be constables in the background ready to take him away…

(BTW, I can’t tell if I want to eat the Tartan Tart or preserve it in a case, it’s so beautiful.)

 · Mark · http://www.pruhnounstshablee.blogspot.com

Sep 04, 2010 ·  2:09 PM

Stella, this is just the best ever you are so very very clever and the deserts look like you could eat them right off the pages of this site!!

 · Karen Gool · 

Sep 05, 2010 · 10:03 AM

Mark, dear, I think you’re on to something. I’ll keep you posted!


Sep 05, 2010 ·  9:39 PM

Your post had me laughing out loud. The Tartan Tart looks delectable; the pictures extraterrestrial.

 · Sarah · http://lafindesharicots1980.blogspot.com/

Sep 29, 2010 ·  4:47 AM

Now those are some nifty photos! It’s like flying tarts instead of flying saucers.

 · Gali · http://www.where-is-gali.net

Sep 29, 2010 ·  9:56 AM

I would take Unidentified Flying Pastries over UFOs any day! Thanks for stopping by.


Oct 13, 2010 ·  6:39 PM

Plaid reminds me of the 90’s. I don’t why. I guess I just saw a lot of it in high school (smile).
Oh, and your picture is wicked awesome!

 · Stella · http://thewitchykitchen.blogspot.com/

Oct 13, 2010 ·  6:59 PM

Oh the 90s! Yeah, I had an awesome pair of plaid pants back then. Thanks for stopping by, fellow Stella!


Jan 31, 2011 ·  4:19 PM

Stellar photography and on point piping… Brava!

 · Cakewalker · http://cakewalker.blogspot.com

Jan 11, 2012 · 10:41 PM

Wow, I have visited your blog many times and never appreciated the fact that your logo is actually a photo! It’s amazing!

 · Nic · http://www.niccooks.com

Jan 12, 2012 · 11:00 AM

@Nic, haha, thank you so much! Yeah, Rosco worked his butt off to capture that image (no Photoshop!!) and it’s so funny because most people assume it’s a comped design. Poor guy gets no credit! Thanks so much for taking the time to notice the details, I know Rosco will appreciate it. Cheers!


Apr 20, 2012 · 12:02 PM

how did you make the plaid? This is really beautiful and looks delicious. I just recently found your site and your writing and directions are excellent.

 · skydel · 

Apr 22, 2012 · 12:35 PM

@skydel, thanks so much! I used four piping bags each with a different tip (I don’t remember the gauges, but my 3 smallest). The light purple was with a small, plain tip. Dark purple had an even smaller, fine point tip and the light green had the smallest tip. The blue was done with a multi-opening tip, letting me pipe 3 parallel lines at once. The varying thicknesses of each piping tip give the illusion of weaving.

I thought of the pattern as two columns. One that was very wide, light purple on the edges with green/dark purple in the middle, and another that was very narrow, three light blue lines. To make the columns distinct, making a pattern of empty space is as important as the colors themselves.

The pattern goes: {Double space} light purple {double space} green {space} dark purple. {Double space} light purple. {Double space} blue {Double space}.

First, pipe this pattern across the tart (or cake, cookie, whatever). Give it about 2 minutes to dry, then rotate the tart 90° and pipe again. I made about 12 of these tarts at once; I piped the first layer on all of them, then rotated them all and did a pass at the 2nd layer.


Apr 23, 2012 ·  2:12 PM

Did you use regular buttercream icing? or something else?

 · skydel · 

Apr 23, 2012 ·  6:30 PM

@skydel, ha! After all that, I forgot to answer the most basic part of your question! You can do it with royal icing or white chocolate. Royal icing is much easier to deal with, though.


Apr 25, 2012 ·  7:31 PM

Have you ever thought about divining a recipe for Suzy Q’s?

 · skydel · 

Apr 26, 2012 · 10:24 AM

@skydel, would you believe I’ve never had one?! I will have to investigate….


Apr 27, 2012 · 10:06 AM

they are =yum= I have found some recipes online – I may experiment as well

 · skydel · 

Apr 27, 2012 ·  5:26 PM

@skydel, I’ll have to keep an eye out at the store and pick some out.