This was uncharted territory for me. Caramel? Made by me? It seemed scary and hard, but really ended up being quite easy. I have been hiding in my shame of using corn syrup, but I figured for my first venture into caramel-land I would follow the recipe at hand. Next time: no corn syrup (I promise).
These tarts are CUTE! I considered making one big tart but, but besides lacking a full size tart pan (ugh), I decided the little ones would be much more adorable and perfect for individual servings. That said: these things are sweet - so be warned that you need to tag team the effort.
The real show stopper with these tarts was the sea salt. I'll admit to being a sea salt junkie (salted caramel hot chocolate, anyone? Delicious!), but this was my first time using it so blatantly in a desert recipe of my own. It added the perfect zing to a very sweet dessert, and an unexpected flavor to finish each bite.
I made these tarts over three different kitchen sessions: first the shells, then the caramel, then the ganache topping. All three were relatively quick and easy! I recommend splitting the recipe into a few sessions mostly for cooling purposes. I allowed the shells to cool and harden before adding the caramel (I was afraid they might get soggy if I did it immediately), and allowed the caramel to harden before adding the ganache so the layers would stay separated nicely.Print
These chocolate caramel tarts are full of sweet, smooth caramel and topped with a rich, dark chocolate ganache.
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt (an additional pinch wouldn't hurt)
- 6 tablespoons water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Sea salt for garnish
- To prepare the crust, combine the flour, cocoa, and salt - set aside.
- Cream the butter and powdered sugar with a stand or hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla, mix until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients.
- Separate dough into six even pieces and press into mini tart pans. If dough is too sticky to work with, refrigerate before trying to shape into pans.
- Prick shells all over with a fork before baking for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool before making the caramel.
- To prepare the caramel, mix together and heat the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water over medium heat.
- Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the candy thermometer reads 340 degrees.
- Remove from heat and add butter, cream, sour cream, and vanilla while continuously stirring. The mixture will bubble up a bit, but continue mixing until the liquid is smooth.
- Carefully pour caramel into prepared tart shells. When you're confident you can move them to the refrigerator without spilling, do so and allow the caramel to completely cool and firm up, 2-3 hours.
- To prepare the ganache, make sure your bittersweet chocolate is finely chopped and in a small bowl.
- Heat the cream to a boil, then immediately pour into the bowl with the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for a minute, then stir with a whisk or rubber spatula until totally smooth. Spoon over cooled caramel.
- Let chocolate cool for 5 minutes before garnishing with sea salt. Allow the tart to cool completely in the refrigerator before serving.
- My pans (3.5 inch diameter) did not have removable bottoms, and I did not butter the pans, I had no issues removing the tarts after baking.
- To make a uniform thickness in your tart shells, start with a small amount of dough in the bottom of the pan and press into a disk of your desired thickness before adding dough to fill the entire bottom of the pan. I use the smooth bottom of a clean pint glass to eliminate finger indentations!
- I added the sea salt garnish somewhat liberally and opted to do so before the ganache was very cool so that it would sink in and stick to the chocolate a bit better than if it had completely hardened. The aesthetics remained, and the salt stayed put.