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French Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

The French Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart on a decorative cake stand

I have a tendency to overdo it when I travel. I get excited and want to do everything. The more guidebooks and blogs I read, the more plans I make. My friends and family remind me that “You can’t do everything” and I politely ignore their advice.

This was the case during my last trip to Paris. By the time I left for the airport, I had something planned for nearly every minute of the six days I was staying in the city. The trip started off well and every meal, tour, and experience was beyond my expectations. I was on a traveler’s high but eventually, the jetlag and exhaustion from going non-stop set in and I hit a wall. That’s not a good feeling when you’re in the first few days of over a month of non-stop travel.

By the fourth day of my trip, I was exhausted. I stayed out way too late (blame it on Anto!) and was planning on ‘calling in sick’ to the cooking class I had scheduled for the next morning. I had visions of sleeping in, getting room service, and taking it easy.

Luckily my fear-of-missing-out kicked in and I got my butt out of bed and headed up to Montmartre for the Cook’n with Class Morning Market Class. Although my head hurt and I was running on 3 hours of sleep, I wasn’t about to waste a precious day in Paris.

The French Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart next to a slice of the tart.

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Tips for Better Baking – Chocolate Bars vs. Chocolate Chips (#48)

Chocolate Bars vs. Chocolate Chips | www.TheHungryTravelerBlog.com

Tips for Better Baking: Chocolate Bars vs. Chocolate Chips (#47)

When baking with chocolate, opt for chocolate sold in bars instead of chocolate chips. Bar chocolate is a higher quality and will produce a better result in your final baked goods. Chocolate chips often contain fats other than cocoa butter and tend to be sweeter, waxier, and have a less intense flavor. Since they are made to hold their shape, chocolate chips are difficult to melt and bar chocolate will provide a smoother result.

For the best results, simply buy bars of chocolate and use a knife to chop them into pieces the size needed for your recipe.

 

Check out the complete index of Tips for Better Baking or subscribe to my mailing list to receive a baking tip in your inbox every week.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie

Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie | www.TheHungryTravelerBlog.com

Every time I travel abroad for extended periods of time, I find myself craving certain foods that are mainstays of my diet back home. When I spent a summer in Asia, I craved Chipotle, fresh salads, and Cracker Barrel (my guilty pleasure). When studying in France, I craved Asian and spicy foods and, yet again, Chipotle (luckily I was able to temporarily curb that craving during a weekend in London).

In Toulouse (the city in southwest France in which I studied), I was very satisfied with my daily breakfast of a croissant but a friend of mine was desperately in search of peanut butter for his morning toast. He went to several of grocery stores and markets and scoured the American aisle looking on a quest for peanut butter. One day he came back to the dorms thrilled, thinking he had found a jar of it. After opening it up and spreading on toast, it was not at all what he expected. He had actually purchased a jar of speculoos, or a spiced cookie butter.  He loved it, but it didn’t satisfy his craving.  Eventually, my mom to brought him a jar when she came to visit and he got his fix.

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Tips for Better Baking: Always Sift Cocoa Powder (#38)

Tips for Better Baking: always sift cocoa powder before using it in a recipe.

Cocoa powder is notoriously clumpy. If you add it straight to a recipe, it can be nearly impossible to break up the clumps and you’ll end up with dry spots in your finished product. In order to avoid this frustration, I always sift cocoa powder (at least once, sometimes twice!) before using it in a recipe. I find it’s easiest to sift onto a piece of parchment paper but into a bowl works well too.

Tip for Better Baking: Always sift cocoa powder. Measure the required amount, pass it through a fine mesh strainer onto a sheet of parchment, and then use it in the recipe as called for. 

If you have an old-fashioned flour sifter you can use that but I prefer to use a fine mesh strainer.