Chocolate Caramel Tart

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Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Did you guys go nuts when you saw this a few months ago on the cover of Saveur? I lost my little mouse mind—which is impressive, considering that I don’t have that much of a sweet tooth.

I knew I had to make one for my dear Angry Chef, who loves sugary things, especially any combination of chocolate and caramel.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

This is one of those desserts that’s kind of a pain to make—but is 110% worth the time and effort. The method itself is actually pretty simple: Make a chocolate shortbread crust, fill it with caramel, then top it with chocolate ganache.

The killer is waiting for each layer to cool properly before adding the next.

The end result is like a grown-up candy bar, in decadent tart form. The cookie crust is crisp and buttery. The caramel is creamy with just a little tang from the addition of a dollop of craime fraiche. The chocolate ganache is velvety and rich. I’m going to be bold: This might just be the perfect dessert.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

While it may sound nuts, French grey sea salt (a.k.a. sel gris) is one of those things that pairs amazingly well with caramel. A sprinkling of the briny crystals enhance the sweetness and flavor of the caramel and chocolate.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Trust me on this one. You won’t be sorry.

What is creme fraiche?

Creme fraiche is cream that’s introduced to a little well-meaning bacteria, then allowed to age so that it gets gloriously thick, like sour cream.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Crame Fraiche

Find it at a good cheese shop or dairy, or at a Whole Foods.

You can also make your own at home by mixing 2 tablespoons of buttermilk or sour cream into 1 cup of heavy cream in a sterilized jar, then letting it sit out (covered) at room temperature overnight. Once it’s thickened, keep it in the fridge, and use it up within 10 days or so.

Creme fraiche is a great creamy addition to cooked dishes, because it won’t curdle like milk or cream when it boils.

I was feeling lazy (OK, I just didn’t want to wait for the tart), and snagged some from Whole Foods.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Where to find a good tart pan

Use a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. If you don’t have one, most good kitchen stores will carry them. Williams Sonoma sells them for about $9. Or you can order one from Amazon.com here. In a pinch, you could improvise reasonably well with a springform pan. You’d just be missing that nice, ridged edge on your crust.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Chocolate Caramel Tart

Originally published in Saveur magazine

Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
5 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa powder (not sweetened hot chocolate mix)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
10 Tbls. butter, diced and softened
1/2 cup + 2 Tbls. confectioner’s sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Caramel
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbls. light corn syrup
6 Tbls. water
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbls. butter
6 Tbls. heavy cream
1 Tbls. creme fraiche

Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

French Grey sea salt, for garnish

Makes 1 9 1/2-inch tart. Serves as many as you can bear sharing with.

Part 1: Make the chocolate shortbread crust

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your tart pan and set it aside.

Put the butter and confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of your mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if you’re mixing with a handheld, electric mixer.)

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Cream the butter and sugar together until they’re light and fluffy…

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

…like this:Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the egg yolks and the vanilla. (Learn how to make your own vanilla extract here.)

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Mix to combine.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the flour, cocoa powder, and kosher salt.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Beat well until combined. The mixture will be kind of dry, and somewhat crumbly—like good, fresh Play-Doh.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Gather it into a rough ball and plunk it down in the middle of your greased tart pan.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

With your hands, smoosh the dough down so that it spreads and fills the whole tart pan. Try to spread it out so that it’s a fairly even thickness all around.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Press the dough into the fluted edge of your pan, so your crust has a pretty shape.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Press the edges down to level them so they’re relatively flat. (Don’t make yourself nuts. It’s going to be delicious, regardless of how neat the edges are.)

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

You want the dough to look about like this (all those fingerprints are just fine):

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Prick the dough all over gently, with a fork. These little holes will release steam (from the water in the butter and egg) as the crust bakes, which will help to keep your bottom crust flat. (If it does somehow manage to poof up alarmingly once it’s baked, make a few pinpricks in the bottom, and gently press the surface down, squeezing out the air.)

Pop it into your pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the dough is lightly browned on the edges. If your crust cracks a little bit, don’t fret. It’s so totally not a tragedy.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Set the crust aside to cool completely.

Part 2: Make the caramel filling

Once your tart crust has cooled, make the caramel. Put the sugar in a heavy-bottomed, 1-quart saucepan. Add the light corn syrup, water, and salt.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

For light corn syrup, I like Karo syrup. You can find it in most U.S. markets.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Whisk the mixture together until well combined. It will take a minute or two to dissolve that sticky corn syrup.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Set the pot on the stove over high heat. Cook, without stirring.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

The mixture will come to a tall boil, then subside. Keep the heat on high and resist the urge to stir (you’ll form larger sugar crystals, which will make lumps in your caramel). Boil until you hit 340 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

When the mixture reaches 340 degrees, take the pot off the heat. (Be really careful with this part. Boiling sugar is like napalm.) Your mixture should be a light caramel color, kind of like light maple syrup.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Add the butter, cream, and creme fraiche to the pot.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Whisk the ingredients in with the boiling sugar. The mixture will bubble up dramatically as you stir.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Like, dramatically:

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Then it will subside.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Whisk until the mixture is uniform in consistency, like this:

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Pour the caramel into your cooled tart shell.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

It will just about fill the tart to the top. That’s just fine (it only gets a thin layer of ganache on top).

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Let the tart cool to room temperature on the counter, then transfer it to the fridge until the caramel is quite firm. This will take about 4-5 hours. The surface of the tart should feel—firm to the touch—like a marshmallow…firm, but not hard…when you press on it gently with a finger.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Part 3: Make the chocolate ganache

When the caramel is cold and very firm, make the chocolate ganache. Roughly chop up your chocolate. Put it in a heatproof bowl and set it aside while you heat up the cream.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Put the cream in a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Let it sit for maybe a minute to start softening up the chocolate.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Then stir it with a spatula or wooden spoon until the chocolate is completely melted.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

After a minute or two of stirring, all your chocolate should be melted, and your mixture should look about like this:

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Pour the warm ganache on top of the caramel filling.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Spread it around gently with a rubber spatula. (Spread it gently across the surface of the caramel. Try not to press down too hard.)

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Tuck the chocolate up to the edges, so that it touches the crust.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Your finished tart should look about like this:

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Mmmmm….(Resist the urge to dive in and swim around in your creation.)

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Pop the tart into the fridge until the ganache is totally set, about 4-5 hours. (If you don’t wait, it will ooze a lot when you cut it. I learned the hard way…)

Serve and enjoy!

When the ganache is cool and totally set, slice the tart into wedges, and sprinkle with a few grains of French grey sea salt.

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!!Chocolate Caramel Tart at The Hungry Mouse

 

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

41 COMMENTS

  1. This looks amazing and decadent. Reminds me of one of the most luscious desserts I ever made – except the chocolate ganache was the bottom layer and I coated hazelnuts in a caramel (that never quite set) on top of the chocolate. It was very messy, but very good. Your pictures and instructions are. making. me. hungry.

    • Oh your dessert sounds wonderful! Love the idea of caramel-coated hazelnuts. And ya know, the thing about certain desserts…even if they don’t set up quite right, they’re still amazingly delicious.

      +Jessie

    • Aaaaaah! Another screen licker! 😀 (That said, I’m sitting in my office right now–waiting to grab lunch–and am quite tempted to do the very same thing.)

      +Jessie

  2. This looks amazing, Jessie! I always have trouble with caramel, too. The last time I tried it I would up with a pan full of burned sugar pebbles.

    Again, YUM!

    • Thanks, hon. Hmmm, I’m wondering about your caramel troubles. Maybe the bottom of your pan isn’t thick enough, which would make the sugar scorch faster. :/ (That said, the 8-year-old in me loves the idea of Burned Sugar Pebbles. Sounds like some kind of horrible but delicious cereal…)

      +Jessie

  3. Oh my gosh! I saw that same tart recipe at Saveur.com and have it bookmarked. I so want to make it but I don’t have a tart pan yet. Your photos are great and I am jealous because I have a really poorly-lit kitchen with no windows.

    • Thanks! Hehehe, I knew a bunch of folks must have been drooling over that one. I nearly fainted when I got the magazine.

      Ya know, you could try making it in a regular ole springform pan. I can measure the depth of my tart pan for you, so you’ll know how high to make the crust on the sides.

      +Jessie

  4. I’m halfway through making this and it was all I could do to not eat the chocolate play-dough! Just a quick note about the caramel – you missed off the quantity of water required 🙂 6tbsp if its helpful!

    I can see this becoming a fav… Thanks for all the pics, v helpful!

  5. is it possible to do this with a graham cracker crust? this could be a silly question but I’m just thinkin’ in terms of cutting time…Although, i do very much appreciate how wonderful this crust looks! Yum yum yum!

  6. I’m trying it with a springform pan, like you suggest might work. I meant to buy a tart pan, but never got around to it and I wanted the tart for a party tonight, which meant I needed to start first thing this morning. I’ve done the first two layers. So far so good. 🙂

  7. I love that you posted this recipe as I was going to pass on it based on all the negative reviews by Saveur readers. Nobody could figure out what the right temperature was for the caramel and most thought 340 was way to high to create an unburnt caramel. You didn’t have any issues?

  8. I finally got to make this the other night. It will be in my regular rotation because it was stupid delicious…I did use “special dark chocolate” cocoa for the crust and later sprinkled some toasted chopped hazel nuts for a little texture. Didn’t hurt things a bit…thanks for sharing!

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