Recipes

chocolate caramel tart

Shortly after my husband and I began dating — the dark ages; no seriously, his phone at the time looked like this and I was like whoa, look how fancy you are, dude — we went on a road trip somewhere, stopped at a gas station, and I told him to grab something candy-ish, surprise me. This boy came back to the car with a pack of Rolos, and honestly, it’s amazing we didn’t break up right then and there because Rolos are terrible candy and it’s about time someone said it. [Oh I can hear the reverberations of a thousand unfollows but I will absolutely die on this hill, and remain undeterred.] They’re gooey so they give off the appearance, the suggestion, of being good candy but the goo tastes like nothing. I feel this way about all caramel that appears inside candy bars, which tastes me more like thickened corn syrup than anything toasty and nuanced. Plus, they’re inside a milk chocolate shell, so it’s sweet against sweet, no contrast whatsoever, and so help you if you don’t eat them in a single bite, I hope you enjoy having sticky hands for the rest of the drive. I know, I know what you’re thinking: it’s an absolute mystery how I ended up with such a picky child.

In my unsolicited opinion, three things could improve Rolos: a real toasty, buttery caramel, the contrast of dark chocolate, and a bit of salt. As good caramel is gooey, we’re not going to fight it, but that’s what plates and forks are for.

dry ingredients for shellblend up the crustchocolate tart crustpressed in and trimmedfoil tightly, no weightsmelt the sugar and cook until amberadd butter, then creamblurry poured caramelcooled caramel layerchopped chocolate or chipschocolate and creamspread the ganache

Claudia Fleming knows this. Owner and pastry chef at the North Fork Table & Inn on Long Island, she’s even more famous famous for her years as pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, where she led the way in redefining high-end desserts with American flavors. Her 2001 book, The Last Course, has been out of print so long, don’t even exhaust yourself trying to track it down, but in the new Genius Desserts* book from Food52, which includes some treats from Kristen Miglore long-running Genius Recipes column plus new worthy inclusions, it gets a revisit. In the notes, Miglore explains that when Fleming introduced the tart, which is finished with flaky sea salt, notable amounts of salt in desserts was still considered something new and unusual; she had to talk people into it. How times have delightfully changed (for phones too).

chocolate caramel tart

I do not imagine that Fleming was inspired by glove compartment Rolos, but this tart gets the idea of them so right, including a bittersweet chocolate ganache on tart, which reins in the sweetness of what is basically a fork-and-knife vehicle for very good caramel. The tart base is wonderful; it tastes like a good chocolate cookie. And the mess? At her restaurants, Fleming serves this as small single-serving tarts that hold everything in neatly. But I find that even made in a larger pan, you have about a minute after you slice the tart before the caramel escapes, more than enough time to get it to your plate where it is yours and yours alone to enjoy, as it should be.

chocolate caramel tart

* Not to toot my own horn too much, but there’s a Smitten Kitchen recipe in there too (Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats) and another one in the bonus packet of recipes they couldn’t fit in the book but wanted to (Gooey Cinnamon Squares, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, a mashup of snickerdoodles and gooey butter cake).

Previously

One year ago: Dutch Apple Pie
Two years ago: Chocolate Caramel Crunch Almonds + New Kitchen Favorites
Three years ago: Date Breakfast Squares, Parsley Pecorino Biscuits and Potato Kugel
Four years ago: Cranberry Pie with Thick Pecan Crumble and Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale
Five years ago: Cigarettes Russes Cookies
Six years ago: Cauliflower-Feta Fritters with Pomegranate and Cashew Butter Balls
Seven years ago: Nutmeg Maple Butter Cookies
Eight years ago: Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms
Nine years ago: Cappucino Fudge Cheesecake and Balsamic-Braised Brussels with Pancetta
Ten years ago: Cauliflower Gratin, Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust and Veselka’s Cabbage Soup and Brown Butter Brown Sugar Shorties
Eleven years ago: Nutmeg Maple Cream Pie, Chile-Garlic Egg Noodles
Twelve years ago: Jacked-Up Banana Bread, Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Watermelon and Cucumber Salad
1.5 Years Ago: Broccoli Rubble Farro Salad and The Red and The Black
2.5 Years Ago: Almond-Rhubarb Picnic Bars, Cucumber Yogurt Raita Salad and Chicken Gyro Salad
3.5 Years Ago: Swirled Berry Yogurt Popsicles, Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, and Pink Lemonade
4.5 Years Ago: Nancy’s Chopped Salad

Chocolate Caramel Tart

    Three things:
  1. I know caramel can be scary to make but I beg you to try it anyway because it’s just cooked sugar. That’s it. Repeat this to yourself as needed. You don’t need a thermometer. Fleming doesn’t give a temperature goal; she’s trying to keep it simple. Look for an amber/light copper color and that’s it, you’re there. Don’t look for what I did above; I overcooked it. I used it anyway; it’s faintly bitter but nobody minds.
  2. Someone gave me a gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma for Hanukah a few years ago, which led to me buying a bunch of things that nobody really needs but bring me great joy, such as a rectangular tart pan, so I used it here. It holds 75% of the volume of the recipe below, written for a standard (9.5/10-inch round) tart pan. If you have one and want to use it, just use 75% of every ingredient below and you’ll be set. Oh, and go ahead and use the whole egg yolk in the crust. It won’t cause problems.
  3. Finally, this is not the recipe as Fleming wrote it; you can find her version in the book and throughout the web. I have a lazier way to make tart crusts that I prefer, and I’d be crazy not to tell you about it.

    Crust
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (70 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (155 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Caramel filling
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) water
  • 1/4 cup (80 grams) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) creme fraiche or sour cream
  • Pinch or two flaky sea salt
  • Ganache topping
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (Fleming requests your “best quality”)
  • Pinch or two flaky sea salt

Make chocolate crust in a food processor: Pulse sugar, flour, and cocoa powder until mixed. Add butter and run the machine until it’s finely chopped and basically disappears into the dry mixture. Add yolk and vanilla and run the machine — not just pulse it — until the mixture begins to clump. It make take 30 seconds, but it will begin to form clumps.

Make chocolate crust in a stand mixer: In bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, flour, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. It’s going to be bumpy at first but keep letting the machine bang it up until it is softened, and keep beating until smooth. Scrape down sides. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and mix until blended. With this method, if the mixture feels too soft to press into a crust, wrap it in waxed or parchment paper and refrigerate it until mostly firm.

Press crust into bottom and up sides of a 9.5- to 10-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom (for easier release). Keep a quarter-sized ball of crust aside to patch cracks later, if needed. Transfer pan to freezer and freeze until solid, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Bake crust: Prick frozen crust with a fork, coat a piece of foil with nonstick spray, and press it oiled-side-down tightly against the frozen crust, so it is fully molded to the shape. Bake tart with foil (no pie weights needed) for 15 minutes, then carefully, gently, a little at a time, peel back foil and discard. If cracks have form, this is when you patch them with reserved dough. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes more, until pastry looks dry and set. Let cool on a rack while you make the caramel.

Make caramel: In a large saucepan with a light-colored interior (this will make it easier to see the caramel’s color), combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup, then turn heat to medium-high. Cook undisturbed (no stirring needed, just tilt and swirl the pan if it looks uneven but really this shouldn’t be very necessary) until the sugar takes on an amber or pale copper color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in the butter — it’s going to boil up and steam, be careful — until melted, then the cream and creme fraiche or sour cream and a couple pinches of salt, until smooth. Pour into prepared crust. Let caramel set in the fridge until cool and firm, about an hour.

Make ganache: Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and bring cream to a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let sit undisturbed for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Pour it over cooled caramel layer, spreading evenly with a spatula or butter knife. Let set in the fridge, another hour, or until firm to the touch.

To serve: Sprinkle the top of the tart with flaky sea salt. A knife dipped in hot water cuts fairly cleanly, but slices will become messy within a minute of being cut, so try to get them to their plates quickly.

To store leftovers: Fleming recommends doing so at room temperature, but I think it makes things too messy. Spray two small strips of foil with nonstick spray and press them against the cut/open sides of the tart and wrap them tight; this will keep it from spilling out in the fridge. Tart should keep in the fridge for a week, not that I believe it will.

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101 comments on chocolate caramel tart

  1. SallyT

    YESSSS! I made this for Thanksgiving, and LOVED IT. I’m also a huge fan of that rectangular tart pan, and think that everything looks better in it (also, I’m still sad that my FIL gave away all the extra tart!).

    (PS – flour is missing from the stand mixer instructions!)

    1. SallyT

      pps – I used Vahlrhona chocolate for the ganache, and 2 cups of sugar in the caramel = 400g. I found this very straightforward to make, despite looking complicated! Everyone should make it, like, now.

      1. Pitz

        Hi Deb,
        This looks amazing and I’m with you on the Rolos. Any other pan substitution idea (trying to avoid buying a tart pan because kitchen storage space is at a very high premium at the moment)? Existing options are a springform, a Le Creuset dish pie and ramekins…
        Thank you!

  2. aks8218

    I’m cooking for one, so individual tarts probably make more sense for me, as I (probably) wouldn’t eat the whole thing at once, and then I’d have a mess. I’ve got some little brioche pans that might work—would you adjust oven temp or cooking time for a smaller tart crust? It seems like crust size shouldn’t make a difference, but there maybe something I’m not thinking of!

      1. g

        If you make a larger number of smaller tarts, the edge-to-volume ratio will be higher, so you might need to make more crust relative to the amount of filling.

  3. Ginger

    Oh, gee. Thanks a lot! I have that rectangular tart pan and was delighted that FINALLY here was a recipe that would fit it. Then I read to *just* use 75% of the ingredients if using that tart pan. I would have to dig up Mrs. Mulroy from high school math class (she has been dead for 40 years) to figure that out. But instead I am going to use the overage in an individual tart pan and screw the math! I’m making your tangy brisket for Christmas and this will be dessert. Thanks, I think.

    1. deb

      Here are the measurements for the 13.5×4.25-inch rectangular tart:
      Crust: 6T butter, 6T + 2t powdered sugar, 1 large egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 15T flour
      Caramel: 1 1/2 cups sugar, 6T water, 3T corn syrup, 6T butter, 6T heavy cream, 1.5 creme fraiche
      Ganache: 6T heavy cream, 2.5oz chocolate

  4. JP

    Yes, it can “suck” to have a picky child, but I think you were planning to use the word such when you said “…how I ended up with suck a picky child”. Anna makes an awfully cute chef, however. Thanks for the new recipe!

  5. Jean

    Deb,
    So I’m not with you on the Rolos, but totally in your corner if the subject is Reeses peanut butter cups or Nutella…yech. Yes, I will die on that hill with you. The tart looks divine – once my oven is fixed I will give it a go. Apparently, oven doors are not rated for a 225 pound man to put his weight on.,,never mind.

  6. Mandy S.

    Since discovering golden syrup, I can’t remember the last time I used corn syrup. I assume golden syrup is an acceptable substitution for the corn syrup? (Did you try golden syrup, Deb?)

  7. Diana

    I have a health dietary restriction to avoid butter and coconut oil, as well as animal fats and even cocoa butter. Sigh. I LOVE caramel though. Can I make the caramel a) without the butters and b) use fat free half and half or other nonfat dairy in place of cream? Can one make faux ganache with cocoa? I am super sad thinking I’ll not have caramel or chocolate anymore.

    1. deb

      Caramel can be made without butter but I don’t think nonfat cream would be a good swap for cream because there’s other stuff in there that might not work in candy. I’d suggest coconut milk, since it’s fatty, but that’s out. Maybe an oatly or the like? Really not sure, though. But it can’t hurt to risk a single cup of sugar to experiment, right?

  8. Kate R.

    Ugh rolos are THE WORST. Thanks for fighting the good fight, Deb! My husband and I have had more than one heated argument about the topic :)

  9. Yes, I hate Rolos and the like! I once wrote a whole blog post for such junk called “sugar is not a flavor.”
    Your tart, now. WOW. I think I could only eat this with a glass of milk or a cup of black coffee.

  10. Melissa Holmes

    This looks so good! But I would need to make it gluten free. Would any flour substitute work, or is there a specific one you recommend?

    1. I am gluten free as well and find that America’s Test Kitchen has the absolute best gluten free flour blend (you can find it in their gluten free cookbooks or via their website). I started using it this year and have never looked back. Though you have to mix the different flours yourself, nothing has competed against them when it comes to flavor. I have tried making a few smitten kitchen recipes with this blend and they always come out great!

  11. Bridgit

    I “save” mediocre Halloween candy with the addition of pretzels and/or deeply toasted almonds. A roll, an almond and a pretzel together are quite good. Without those additions, I totally agree with you. Reisens, however, are a completely different story. (A few almonds and a mini box of mounds are one of my favorite afternoon pick me ups.) Looking forward to making this tart!

  12. nomaddcb

    I love making caramel, it makes me feel so accomplished!
    What temperature would you cook this caramel to? I find there is a lot of leeway as to being more like a sauce vs. something that sets up and can be cut, once the caramel browns nicely,

    1. deb

      I didn’t check the temperature and Fleming doesn’t suggest one, just to look for the right color. I don’t think this caramel will ever fully set up like a candy and that was the goal; she wanted it to be able to pour, just a little, out and not be a firm candy, which wouldn’t be enjoyable to eat with a fork and knife. I think it has more to do with the cream proportion.

    2. essbee

      248F (at the end, after dairy is added) makes a firm caramel suitable for slicing and wrapping, but won’t pull out your fillings. Based on the flow of the filling in the photos, and my experience with failure in making wrapped caramels, I’d suggest shooting for around 243-245F…240F is probably not hot enough and wouldn’t give you the “move to plate” time described in the article.

  13. Amy

    I live in a country where corn syrup is not readily available, what’s a good commonly available sub?

    By the way, I have loved every single one of your recipes I have tried, especially the salted chocolate chip cookies which disappear in about 5 mins in our house…

  14. Monique

    This is a question that I should figure out the answer to myself, sorry, but at what point does one take this tart shell out of the pan? Roughly at the same time the foil is peeled off? (literally on the Fante’s web site right now looking for a tart pan of this configuration and size, this looks so utterly amazing, thank you)

  15. KJ

    This looks delicious! I made your strawberry tart from the book yesterday to take to a party, and everyone loved it, so I’ll have to try this one next time

  16. Hey Deb,

    Can you update the metric measurements, pretty please? Many of them are missing, and the cream one should be in ml, not grams, right? Those of us on the other side of the pond thank you in advance! :)

  17. BritishRobyns

    I encourage you to look at the Tributes recipe from the Hawksmoor restaurants in London. It’s in their cookbook. Dark chocolate plus salted caramel candies and a charming riddle on the takeaway box.

  18. Laurie Goodman

    Made this last night to serve after dinner tonight. It’s in the fridge and the ganache is super hard (and a little cracked but oh well). Wondering should I take it out and sit at room temp maybe before dinner? Don’t want it to shatter when I try to slice! Advice?

    1. essbee

      Yes, probably you should give it at least an hour (unless your kitchen is really hot from cooking dinner). If you have a sideboard in your dining area, you can set it out there to impress your guests and remind them to save room! ;-)

  19. Sandy Bloomer

    Hi Debbie: my tart pan is oblong 14 x 4.5” and I have a round one 10”, I want to try the oblong but which one would be best? Thanks Debbie 😉 This looks so yummy and I can make it 2 days before Christmas 👌

    1. Sandy Bloomer

      Dear Debbie, This time I read more thoroughly your recipe comments and read you used the tart pan. Reading comprehension has never been one of my strongest suits 😉

  20. Ish

    Deb, I have followed you, your blog, and your family for years. But I cannot in good faith stand by someone who doesn’t like Rolos! The horror!

  21. Carol Surine

    About the book The Last Course: there are 13 copies available from AbeBooks.com, but they are expensive! Price ranges from $149.00 – $408.12. Just thought you’d like to know!

    1. deb

      Yes, that’s what I meant. You can get it but it’s wildly expensive. For some time, they had a couple boxes for sale at the North Fork Table and Inn at cover price; I had some readers call and they paid the shipping and were sent them. But I’m fairly sure they’re long since gone. (It’s been many years.)

  22. JP

    I am guessing that you feel that way about Caramello by Cadbury, too? To me, they are in a different class than Rollo, but if you don’t like milk chocolate (which I do) with sweet fillings, I suppose you wouldn’t care for Caramello either.

  23. I wonder how you feel about milk duds?
    I generally like caramel, but dislike butterscotch- and sometimes products that bill themselves as caramel actually taste like butterscotch/maple and it’s profoundly disappointing.

  24. catherine

    Deb. I have always loved your blog and recipies, even though i have to veganize most of them. But they always turn out delicious and your writing is so encouraging. Lately i have been feeling very uninspired but everytime i Come here i find something that excites me. I just Put the ganache on top of the tart. IT Looks lovely if indeed a Bit messy (my fridge is kibd of sticky now) and i look forward to trying IT later this morning. Thank you.

    1. Rebecca

      As I have a caramel-loving husband and a daughter with a newly diagnosed dairy allergy, i’d love to hear how the vegan caramel came out and how you made it!

      1. catherine

        Hey there. So i veganized it and it turned out Really well. I obviously changed the Butter for alsan (a german vegan Butter that is Really Not comparable to Any other Margarine). If you dont have it on Hand you could usw coconut oil, but slightly less of it because of its higher fat Content. I added oat cream to the caramel instead of cream but since it is more watery than regular cream i used a Bit more alsan and a Bit less syrup and water than stated above (i obviously suck at taking measurements. It was about a teaspoon more Butter and one tablespoon less water and syrup each) . I did Made the ganache using the leftovers from the oat cream plus a teaspoon of alsan.
        I guess using a fat that only melts in higher Temperatures (Not like coconut oil) helps Keeping it a bit less messy once it is served. I hope i could help, let me know if you tried. Cat

  25. Claire

    1) this looks amazing
    2) a few picky eater/cook questions:
    a) I never keep sour cream or creme fraiche on hand and would hate to buy a tub just for 2 Tbsp. Any good substitutes? I’d usually think yogurt but that seems odd to put in a caramel.
    b) someone else asked about egg substitutes for the crust. I normally use flax eggs in baking, think that would work here?

    1. deb

      2a. I think the caramel will be fine without it, it just adds a tiny bit of depth. You could use an additional 1 to 2T of cream.
      2b. I don’t think it’s mandatory that tart crusts have an egg, it just makes it more cookie-ish and dessert-like. A flax egg might work, but I’m not positive. Or you could add a spoonful of water to help pull it together.

  26. sarah c jurcyk

    I love your recipes and now have your cook book. My question: is there an easier way to print off your recipes we find on your blog? Maybe I am missing a print button that some other blogs use, but it seems a hassle to try and cut an paste on multiple pages if it’s s long recipe. Keep up the great cooking/baking!

    1. caryn tomoser

      There is a little printer icon on the line titled “Do More” under the recipe. There are a few small photos of other recipes before you get to it, so very hard to spot. It would be nice if it were somewhere more intuitive, but it’s there!

      1. deb

        Thanks for helping! Indeed, there is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template. I know it’s not the easiest to find; we’ll make sure it’s easier to see after the next redesign.

  27. Martha

    I made this but noticed that there were no instructions on what to do with the heavy cream for the caramel and for the chocolate ganache. My caramel separated, dont know what I did wrong. Flavor was delicious.

  28. Annie

    You had me at “salted.” Question: I am looking for a “wow!” Christmas Eve dessert to sub in for the Yule log cake I am tired of making. Was considering baked Alaska because my daughter is intrigued by it and has been asking but I am the person who scrapes merengue off lemon merengue pie and asks for whipped cream, so…
    Wait, there was a question here, right? The question is: would you suggest this as a wow-Christmas-Eve dessert or no bc of the oozing/breaking apart factor?

  29. Rosemary Leicht

    Would you like my copy of Claudia Fleming’s Last Course? I get so very much enjoyment out of your blog and cookbooks, it would be my pleasure to give you the book which has been on my shelve since 2001. If you have it already, I’ll give Bonnie Slotnick a call.