Today was one of those days. If you are a parent, you know the ones. The ones where you count the minutes until bedtime. The ones where you feel like bad mommy, a mean mommy. The ones where you find yourself singing the Stones, "I go running for the shelter of a mother's little helper." The ones where you say, "Calgon, take me away". A big part of the problem is that both of my kids were up before 7, something that is just not done in this house. Plus, LL was just fussy and discontent this morning and there was nothing I could do to console her and thus nothing anyone could do to console me. Then, when I tried to take them to the gym so that I cold get a break for some mom-me time, LL fell asleep in the car and I felt guilty waking her up to drop her at child care. So, we went to a friend's house (which was lovely) and the day started to get better.
It got better because when I am having "one of those days", baking really and truly relaxes me. I love the precision of it, the magic of the chemistry of it, and of course, the taste of the finished products. I find that creating something in the kitchen really makes me feel better. So, when we got home I tackled this weeks Tuesday's with Dorie project: Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart. Buttery, shortbready crust covered by a layer of caramel coated salted peanuts and then bathed in a thick layer of bittersweet ganache. Chocolate salted caramel - prozac on a plate?
Because I had been feeling like mean mommy for being short on patience and long on exasperation, I decided that this would be a fun way for the Z-Man and I to bond. He loves to get up on his ladder and help me to bake. Plus, the crust was nice and play-doughy, so he was able to contentedly play with it for a couple of hours. (Oh well that he stuffed it into every crevice of my food processor; he had a blast and we had a good time together.)
The tart crust, made in my beloved processor, was really simple to put together. I don't own a tart shell, so I did it in my stoneware pie plate and had some extra (for Z to play with). Chilling it in the freezer for 1/2 hour prior to baking really seemed to help it bake up perfectly.
The caramel was painstaking - melting 3 tbsp of sugar at a time, stirring in the rest of the ingredients one at a time, getting it to an exact temperature. However, it was well worth the effort, especially with the peanuts mixed in. I never had a problem with it getting too hard; it stayed a perfect consistency.
The ganache was really easy, perfectly pourable, set well after the 1/2 hour, "not one minute more" in the fridge, looked all lovely and shiny and tasted divine - bitter, rich, smooth and yummy! I actually assembled the whole tart while on the phone and so I didn't pay close attention to the recipe calling for the peanuts to be chopped, but they were small and lovely studded throughout the caramel. I did use all of the ganache. Some of my fellow TWD bakers had leftover ganache for next week's project. I think that by making it in the pie plate, I made it denser than they did. Extra chocolate? No problem. The Z Man couldn't wait for his piece and then he and I split a tiny one because it was so rich and awesome.
I do think that the crust on this was the best part. This tart crust is ridiculously easy and tastes incredibly good. I can't wait to use it in a myriad of recipes.
My day, however got better, then worse, then better again. I got to catch up with some friends finally, Z and I had a great time baking, LL was delightful after her nap, DrRuckus got home early and we went out for dinner. Yay, right? But the restaurant was a bizarre little place called Eden Café in Magnolia, TX and none of us could find anything we really wanted to eat. Especially my LL, who wouldn't eat, wouldn't touch anything we offered her, and then proceeded to projectile vomit all over the table. She has had a mild bug for about week. We keep thinking she is better, but this is the first public vomiting and it was AWFUL! So, of course, I blamed myself for weaning her this week and for giving her spoiled milk (I really did, for who knows how many days). Either way, mentally, emotionally and physically, there is nothing worse than having your kid be sick. (Meanwhile, she was fine right after puking, just as she is every time she does.)
However, on a good note, after we put the kids to bed, I was feeling too warn out to do much but also feeling blah and guilty because I had my running clothes on since 6:30 a.m. and had never gotten my run in. So, I was talking to my beloved friend/pilates trainer/life coach and bitching about my day. She said to me, "Why don't you go for your run now? You will feel better which will make your husband happier and then tomorrow will be much better." So, I didn't think, just went out the door (I still had my running shoes on) and proceeded to do my fastest run ever!
Maybe it wasn't one of those days after all. It's all in the perspective (and the pie).
(Oh and one week from now I will be in Hawaii!)