It took me forever to embrace my passion for baking. Oh, don’t get me wrong. For many years I thought about it, but just as quickly dismissed it because it wasn’t just simple chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes that I dreamed about baking. It was the kind of things that I considered “impossible”. If a recipe even mentioned a double boiler I wouldn’t give it a second look. And, candy thermometer, heck no! But, I just couldn’t get past the idea that I really wanted to create those scrumptious looking desserts that leapt off the pages of all those cookbooks piling up on my nightstand.
Well, can you guess what I went and did?
Do you remember how you felt the first day of high school? Even worse if you were starting high school and didn’t know a soul. That is exactly how I felt the first day of my new adventure. Scared to death! We drove up to the door and I didn’t want to get out of the car. I was over 40 years old for goodness sake. I was way outside my comfort zone. I went over all the reasons Tim should just turn the car around and take me home. I reminded him of the fact that I had zero experience, and how badly my quest to learn cake decorating went, not to mention given my age I was sure to stand out like a sore thumb.
Maybe not the best idea, given I am an introvert whose middle name could be “anxiety”, but I bravely signed up for an in depth baking course at our local community college’s culinary school. It was a big commitment that involved spending 8 or 9 hours every Sunday in the baking lab from April to August, but I just knew in my heart it was something I really wanted to do.
So often we let fear dictate our lives in one way or another. We spend way spend way too much time comparing ourselves to others, and we fail to act on our dreams because we feel we just don’t measure up. Heck, I could be the poster child for this!
Turns out not only was I NOT the oldest in the class, and yes there were many students that already came with backgrounds in baking, but I also learned that double boilers and candy thermometers are not to be feared!
Every week I managed to exceed my own expectations! Oh, there were weeks when recipe ingredients ended up in the compost bin before they even got in the oven, but with practice came results, and with results came more confidence. One week I even made a fruit tart that was voted to be the best by my classmates, and later was also chosen by Ana Olson when I submitted a similar one to a contest on the Food Network. There is nothing like winning a $250 Williams Sonoma Gift Card to make me a happy baker!
So, while I still have a whole lot to learn, I am happy to say that I now have the confidence to at least try any recipe that inspires me.
Take these Triple Chocolate Tarts for example! They put all those things that I used to be terrified of to the test. Double boilers, candy therometers, and beating egg whites just long enough to get reach the soft peak stage!
Don’t be afraid! Jump in and try. Whether it is taking a class to master your passion or just jumping in and trying a recipe or craft or DIY project that intimidates you, just take that first step and don’t look back!
Just think of all the chocolate desserts I would be missing if Tim didn’t push me out of the car that first day!
Until next time…..
- 1 3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of butter , melted
- 4 ounces dark chocolate
- 2 room temperature egg whites
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 6 ounces milk chocolate, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 muffin tins with foil liners.
- Combine cookie crumbs, confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and flour in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until well combined.
- Divide mixture into prepared muffin tins and press down firmly to form a bottom crust.
- Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- For the filling begin by melting dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. (Be sure bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water). Set melted chocolate aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of electric mixer beat egg whites and salt to soft peaks using the whisk attachment. Set aside.
- Pour water into a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, add the sugar and corn syrup, and without stirring bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to boil over high heat, occasionally brushing the sides of the pot with water, until the temperature reaches 225 degrees.
- Remove from the mixture from the heat and add it to the whipped egg whites while beating at medium high speed. Continue beating until mixture is cooled to room temperature, approximately 7 or 8 minutes.
- Beat in the cooled dark chocolate just until well combined.
- Divide mixture between the cooled chocolate crumb crust, filling to about 3/4 full.
- Refrigerate for about an hour.
- Melt the milk chocolate as you did the dark chocolate over a pot of simmering water, and when completely melted spoon over chilled cups, spreading to completely cover filling.
- Return to the refrigerator and chill until chocolate is set.