Are you in charge of making desserts for the upcoming holidays? Maybe, like me, you are always the person in charge of making desserts. I understand, and, I don’t know about you, but I like to make desserts that give a sense of comfort and loving home-made feel, yet still look like they’ve come right out of a pastry shop window. If the dessert includes chocolate, that’s even better. And, if it’s fairly easy to put together, still even better. This decadent chocolate and salted caramel tart checks all of those boxes. Both the salted caramel and chocolate ganache are very easy to make. Putting the tart together is quite easy, too, and you’ll end up with a very elegant looking dessert. The taste of the rich chocolate, salty & sweet caramel and the crunchy and buttery crust combined together makes this the dessert equivalent to being wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. Just in time for the cold weather and the holidays.
This is my spin on the very classic French Chocolate Tart (Tart au Chocolat). The classic being a buttery shortbread crust filled with silky chocolate ganache. Here I’ve added a layer of salted caramel to the top to give a sweet & salty contrast to the dark chocolate ganache. I would recommend using a 70-75% dark chocolate for this tart. I like to sprinkle chopped hazelnuts along the edge as a garnish. If you really love the taste of toasted nuts with your caramel, you can also mix not as finely chopped hazelnuts, or any other chopped nuts, into the caramel while it is still hot.
We make this tart on the tart-making day during our Pastry-Making week in Provence. It’s a fun week where you learn to bake classic French pastries that you can easily recreate at home. During the course, I’ll also show you options so you can put your personal spin on the classics, like I do with this tart.
(Makes two 8-inch tarts or 6 tartelettes)
Ingredients for the shortcrust dough (pate sable):
1 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (150 grams) butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup (30 grams) almond powder or almond flour
Scant 1 cup (100 grams) powdered sugar
Pinch of sea salt
Ingredients for the chocolate ganache:
7 ounces (200 ml) heavy cream
7 ounces (200 grams) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
Ingredients for the salted caramel:
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup (55 ml) heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon of sea salt
A few handfuls of toasted chopped hazelnuts (optional) for the garnish
To make the pâte sable:
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and on low speed, mix the flour, butter, almond powder, sugar and salt until the mixture is the consistency of peas. Add the egg and stir together just until combined. Form into two round disks about 3/4-inch high and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and roll the dough out to between 1/4 and 1/8-inch in thickness. You can roll the dough between two pieces of lightly-floured parchment paper or directly on a lightly-floured surface. Either way, make sure to add more flour to the rolling surface, as needed, so the dough does not stick. It is very important that you roll the dough out evenly so that it cooks evenly.
Place the dough into the tart mold. (If making individual tarts, cut out circles a little bigger than the tart molds you’re using.) Gently press the dough into the bottom corners and along the sides of the molds. In every spot, the dough should be in direct contact with the mold. Cut the excess dough off the top and form an even edge that rises just barely above the rim of the mold. Place the dough-filled mold(s) onto a baking sheet. Generously pierce the crust with a fork. This leaves room for steam to release while baking and help to prevent shrinkage and bubbles in your cooked tart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (NOTE: Both of these steps, piercing the dough and refrigerating it for 30 minutes before baking, are very important steps to help the dough bake properly and keep its shape while baking.)
Preheat an oven to 375°F (180°C).
Prepare and blind bake the dough:
After 30 minutes, remove the dough-filled mold(s), from the refrigerator. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the dough and then weigh down. You can use rice or uncooked, dried beans or store bought pie weights. (The parchment paper not only keeps the rice/beans from baking into the dough but also allows for easy removal of the rice/beans when needed.) Bake with the “baking weights” for about 10 minutes until your dough has set and is just starting to change colors. When the weights are no longer needed, work quickly and remove the tarts from the oven and pull off the parchment, taking along with it the rice/beans/pie weights. Place the tarts back in the oven to bake for another 8-10 minutes, until they are a light golden color and crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once your tart has cooled, then you should begin making the chocolate ganache.
(NOTE: If you are making the smaller, tartelettes, your baking time will be shorter, a total of 10 – 15 minutes.)
To make the chocolate ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl. In a sauce pot, heat the cream just until it’s scalding (little bubbles appear around the side). Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let the mixture rest for a minute, then starting with your whisk in the center of the mixture, slowly make a circle with the whisk, bringing together the ganache. Place the butter cubes on top of the mixture, allow the butter to just come to a melting point and whisk it into the ganache. Pour the ganache into the tart molds, filling the tarts only half-way up with the ganache. Let the ganache set for about 15 minutes before making the salted caramel.
Make this a Nutella Ganache & Caramel Tart – See recipe and directions for Nutella ganache are below
To make the salted caramel:
Place the sugar and water mixture in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook without stirring until the sugar dissolves and cooks to 364 F, or becomes a caramel ( light amber) color. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the cream. It will bubble a little bit. Stir, either with a whisk or wooden spoon, until it becomes a sauce (the caramel’s surface will first harden but as you stir the mixture will become fluid). If there are hard pieces around the sides, place back on the hot burner, on very low heat, and stir until they dissolve. Off the heat add the butter and salt. Stir well until smooth. Let cool until it’s still slightly warm or at room temperature before pouring into tarts. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour it onto the set chocolate ganache. Let cool and sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts in a ring around the tart edge for a garnish. Serve the tart at room temperature. Enjoy!
Learn to make classic French pastries like this tart and all those in the photo below!
8 ounces Nutella
3/4 cup heavy cream
To make the Nutella Ganache, heat over low heat or a double boiler the Nutella and cream until the mixture has become one. Pour the ganache into the tart molds, filling the tarts only half-way up with the Nutella ganache. Let the ganache set for about 15 minutes before making the salted caramel. Proceed with making the salted caramel and assembling the tarts per the instructions above.