These decadent Mini Caramel Chocolate Tarts combine some homemade tartlet shells, a gooey salted caramel filling and intense dark chocolate ganache topping. Perfect for a party, afternoon tea or a special occasion!
Why we love this recipe
If you wanna take your favourite Salted Caramel Tartlets to the next level, top them with Chocolate! The Salted Caramel Chocolate Tarts are delicious decadent with their buttery tart crusts, sweet caramel and rich chocolate ganache topping.
They are super fun to make and great for a party, afternoon tea or for a dessert buffet and potlock. They will keep well in the fridge so you can even make them in advance!
Scroll down to recipe card below for all quantities
The tartlet crust dough is a classic Pâte Sablée - or French Shortcrust Pastry. They are made from Plain / All-Purpose Flour (and an pinch of Salt), Icing Sugar (confectioners' sugar), cold Butter and an Egg.
For the Caramel Sauce Filling:
- Sugar: use Caster Sugar or Fine White Granulated Sugar for the best results. I also use a little bit of water in addition to the sugar to help it melt more evenly. To avoid crystallisation of the sugar, you can also substitute a small part of the sugar with glucose syrup / corn syrup.
- Thickened / Heavy Cream: at room temperature or lukewarm. If the cream is too cold, it will make the sugar seize and crystallise again.
- Butter: Unsalted (or salted butter if preferred to make French-style salted butter caramel) and at room temperature. Cut it into small cubes before adding it to the caramel so that it melts more quickly and evenly.
- Sea Salt: the classic French "Fleur de Sel" addition to the caramel! You can add as much or little as you want, depending on the flavours you are after.
I also added some Vanilla Paste for flavour - but that is optional. You could use vanilla extract instead if preferred.
For the Chocolate Ganache:
- Chocolate: use a good quality Cooking Chocolate or Couverture Chocolate for the best results (eating chocolate and chocolate chips won't melt smoothly and make the ganache grainy). I used an intense 70% Cocoa Chocolate (dark chocolate) here.
- Thickened / Heavy Cream: containing at least 30% fat content.
Optionally, you can add a little bit of Honey that will make the ganache sweeter as well as give it a smoother texture.
How to make Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
Note: I make my tartlet shells in the food processor but they can be made by hands if preferred - see those instructions in my Pâte Sablée recipe.
- Photo 1: Place the Plain / AP Flour, sifted Icing Sugar and Salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse for a few seconds to mix. Add the very cold Butter cut into small cubes.
- Photo 2: Mix until you get small crumbs of butter that are evenly distributed within the mixture.
The larger the butter crumbs, the flakier the pastry will be. For this recipe, we do not want too much flakiness so make sure the crumbs are very small and the mixture almost looks like sand.
- Photo 3: Add the Egg to the flour mixture.
- Photo 4: Mix until a rough dough starts to come together. To know the dough has the right consistency, press together some of the crumbs. If they stick together, the pastry is ready. If it is too crumbly to stick, add a little bit of very cold water.
- Photo 5: Bring the dough into a ball and place it between two large sheets of baking paper / parchment paper. Lightly flatten it with your hands then use a rolling pin to roll into a large disk, about 4mm (1/8 inch) thick.
- Place on a flat tray in the fridge to chill and rest for at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Photo 6: Remove the baking paper and cut out small disks of pastry that are slightly larger than your tartlet tins. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the dough. Leftover dough can be re-assembled, rolled and chilled for at least 2 hours to make more tartlet crusts.
I used these Mini Tart Pans that are 7 cm (1/4 inch) wide and cut out the pastries to be about 10 to 12 cm (3/8 to 1/2 inch) wide.
- Photo 7: Line the tartlet pans with the pastry, gently sliding it down the sides of the pan. Press on the edge between the side and bottom to make sure the pastry is flush with the pan.
If the pastry dough seems a bit stiff, leave it at room temperature for a few minutes to soften the butter. If the pastry become too soft and is hard to handle, put it back in the fridge for a few minutes.
- Place in the lined tartlet pans in fridge to chill again for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
- Preheat your oven on 160 degree Celsius / 325 degree Fahrenheit. Dock the bottom of the pastry with a small fork. Optionally, place the tartlet shells in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while the oven is preheating.
- Photo 8: Cover each crust with a little bit of baking paper then fill with baking weights, dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and baking paper and bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes.
The edges should be lightly golden brown and the bottom should should feel dry to the touch.
- Place on a wire rack and leave to cool down completely before removing the shells from the tart pans.
Salted Caramel Filling
Once the tart shells have cooled down completely, start preparing the caramel layer.
- Photo 9: Place the Caster Sugar and Water in a medium to large saucepan (preferably heavy-bottomed saucepan). Stir to evenly distribute the water then turn on low heat. Don't go over a medium heat or the sugar might melt too quickly and burn.
- Photo 10: Leave the sugar to slowly melt without touching it. It will start to boil and turn into large, clear bubbles.
Don't worry if it first appears to clump or crystallise, it should start melting. If you notice small lumps of unmelted sugar crystals on the side of the saucepan, use a small pastry brush dipped in water to help them dissolve.
- Photo 11: Leave the sugar to slowly caramelise until its colour starts turning orange to light brown, almost amber. The exact time can vary based on the exact temperature of your stove - but it generally takes between 5 and 10 minutes.
To avoid over-cooking the sugar and potentially burning the caramel, use a candy thermometer to check it does not go over 180 degree Celsius (350 degree Fahrenheit).
The more you cook the sugar, the less sweet the caramel will taste and it will start to develop a slightly bitter taste. You might need to play around a bit to find the flavour that fits your own taste.
- Photo 12: Slightly heat up the Cream then add it to the melted Sugar. Be careful as it will make the sugar boil and rise quickly.
- Photo 13: Stir quickly with a heat-proof spatula until all the cream has been incorporated. You get a smooth and shiny sauce.
- Photo 14 & 15: Remove from the heat and let the caramel sauce cool down for 5 minutes. Stir in the butter a little bit at the time until fully melted, then the Sea Salt and Vanilla Paste.
- Photo 16: Transfer the caramel into a clean jug (or a pastry bag) and pour it into the tartlet crusts to fill about 2/3 of their depth. Make sure to fill the shells while the caramel is still warm and very fluid.
- Place in the fridge to set for 1 to 2 hours or overnight.
Chocolate Ganache Topping
Once the salted caramel layer has had time to chill and set, you can start preparing the chocolate layer.
- Place the finely chopped Cooking Chocolate (or couverture chocolate callets / pistoles) in a small heat-proof bowl. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, or until the bottom of the chocolate has started to melt slightly.
- Place the Cream and Honey in a small saucepan. Turn on low heat and stir to mix the melted honey. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat.
- Photo 17: Pour the hot cream over the chopped and partially melted chocolate. Leave for 2 minutes to allow for the cream to melt the rest of the chocolate.
- Photo 18: Using a stiff spatula, gently stir in a circular motion to mix the cream and chocolate.
- Photo 19: Keep stirring until the chocolate has completely melted and you get a smooth, shiny ganache.
If you still notice small pieces of unmelted chocolate, place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Photo 20: Place the ganache in a pastry bag, cut out the tip to create a small opening and pipe it over the caramel layer. Gently tap the tartlet on a hard surface then tip it around to help the ganache spread out evenly.
- Alternatively, drizzle the chocolate over the caramel for a different look.
At this point you can add any of your preferred topping or garnishes to the chocolate and caramel tarts. I simply used some Cocoa Nibs over the chocolate but you could also add some chocolate shavings or a sprinkle of flaky sea salt for example.
- Place back in the fridge to set for at leat 1 hour, or up to 24 hours before serving.
If you don't want to make your own tartlet shells, you can absolutely use pre-made ones. Also check my tutorial that show you how to make tartlet shells in a muffin pan if you don't have tartlet pans!
For the best flavours and texture, use a good quality Cooking Chocolate or Couverture Chocolate (usually comes in callets or pistoles). I used a 70% Dark Chocolate for a strong chocolate flavour, but you can use a less intense dark chocolate if preferred.
I personally like to balance the sweetness of the caramel layer with the intensity of dark chocolate. If you are after a sweeter, rounder flavour, you can use Milk or White Chocolate instead. Simply note that the ratios of cream to chocolate are different to make a white or milk chocolate ganache.
The chocolate caramel tarts don't need much as they are quite decadent on their own! I simply decorated them with a sprinkle of Flaky Sea Salt and some Cocoa Nibs for extra crunch.
Tips & Troubleshooting:
- The pastry is too hard or too soft to handle: if too hard, let it come back to room temperature for a few minutes before lining the tartlet pans. If it becomes too soft and starts ripping, place it back in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes.
- The crust shrank or collapsed when baked: this usually happens if the pastry was not rested or chilled for long enough. Chilling the pastry twice and for a long time is the best tip I can give when it comes to pastry. I personally let the pastry chill overnight in the fridge once the tartlet pans are lined before baking them in the morning.
- The caramel filling is grainy, lumpy or has crystallised: caramel can be tricky as any disturbance to the sugar melting can cause it to crystallise. Make sure to leave the sugar completely undisturbed while it is melting. A good way to make sure the sugar does not crystallise is to add some type of inverted sugar (such as glucose syrup, corn syrup or honey) to it.
- The chocolate ganache is not smooth or has split: for an optimal ganache texture, make sure to use a good quality cooking chocolate or couverture chocolate. Chocolate Chips will not melt as smoothly, creating a slightly lumpy texture. If the ganache has split, use an immersion blender to recreate the emulsion.
Storing & Freezing
The tartlet shells can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge unbaked for up to 24 hours. Once baked, let them cool down completely and store at room temperature in an air-tight container for up to 24 hours. They can be frozen baked or unbaked as well.
Once the chocolate caramel tarts are assembled, keep them in the fridge and serve within 24 hours for the best texture. They will last for 3 days in the fridge after that.
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Mini Chocolate Caramel Tarts
- 250 gr Plain / All-Purpose Flour
- 50 gr Icing Sugar - sifted
- 1 pinch Fine Table Salt
- 120 gr Unsalted Butter - very cold
- 1 large Egg
Salted Caramel Filling
- 200 gr Caster Sugar
- 30 ml Water
- 120 ml Heavy / Thickened Cream - lukewarm
- 50 gr Unsalted Butter - at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt - or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Paste - optional
Chocolate Ganache Topping
- 50 gr Dark Cooking Chocolate - finely chopped
- 80 ml Heavy / Thickened Cream
- 15 ml Honey - optional
I highly recommend using the measurements in grams & ml (instead of cups & spoons) for more accuracy and better results.
- Place the sifted Plain Flour, Icing Sugar and Salt in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to mix. Add the very cold cubed Butter and blend until you get very small crumbs of butter (see note 1).
- Add the Egg and mix until a rough dough starts to come together (see note 2).
- Bring the dough into a ball and place between two large sheets of baking paper. Lightly flatten it with your hands then use a rolling pin to roll into a large disk that is about 3 to 4mm thick (1/6 to 1/8 inch). Place on a flat tray in the fridge to chill and rest for at least one hour, or overnight.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and remove the baking paper. With a round cookie cutter, cut out disks of pastry that are a bit larger than the tartlet pans you are using. I used Mini Tart Pans that are 7 cm (1/4 inch) wide and cut out the disks of pastry that are about 10 to 12 cm (3/8 to 1/2 inch) wide.
- Line the tartlet pans with the pastry, gently sliding it down the sides of the pan. Press on the edge between the side and bottom to make sure the pastry is flush with the pan. Place in the fridge to chill again for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. Excess dough can be re-rolled and chilled for at least 2 hours to make more tartlet crusts.
- Preheat your oven on 160 degree Celsius / 325 degree Fahrenheit. Dock the bottom of the pastry (poke the pastry with a small fork). Cover each crust with a little bit of crunched baking paper then fill with baking weights, dried beans or rice.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and baking paper and bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bottom should be dry to the touch and the edges are lightly golden. Leave to cool down completely.
- Place the Caster Sugar and Water in a medium to large size heavy-bottom saucepan. Stir with a spatula to evenly distribute the water then turn on low heat.
- Leave the sugar to slowly melt without touching it. It will start to boil and turn into large, clear bubbles. Continue to cook the sugar until its colour starts turning orange to light brown, almost amber - about 5 to 10 minute (see note 3).
- Carefully pour in the room temperature or lukewarm Cream; it will start bubbling a lot and rise quickly in the saucepan so be very careful not to get burnt. Using a heat-proof spatula, vigorously stir until all the cream has been incorporated and you get a smooth and shiny sauce (see note 4).
- Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool down for 5 minutes. Stir in the Butter until fully melted and incorporated, then the Sea Salt and Vanilla.
- Transfer the caramel filling into a clean jug (or a pastry bag) and pour it into the cool tartlet crusts, filling about 2/3 of their depths. Gently tap the tarts on a hard surface to pop any air bubble and place in the fridge to set for 1 to 2 hours or overnight.
Chocolate Ganache Topping
- Finely chop the Cooking Chocolate (or use couverture chocolate callets / pistoles). Place in a small heat-proof bowl and put in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute - or until the bottom of the chocolate has started to melt slightly (see note 5).
- Mix the Cream and Honey in a small saucepan. Turn on low heat and bring to a simmer. Pour over the partially melted chocolate and leave for 2 minutes.
- Using a stiff spatula, gently stir in a circular motion to mix the cream and chocolate. Keep stirring until the chocolate has completely melted and incorporated with the cream. You should get a smooth, shiny ganache (see note 6).
- Place the ganache in a pastry bag, cut out the tip to create a small opening and pipe it over the caramel layer. Gently tap the tartlet on a hard surface then tip it around to help the ganache spread out evenly. Alternatively, drizzle the chocolate over the caramel for a different look.
- Optionally, finish with a sprinkle of Flaky Sea Salt and some Cocoa Nibs.
- Place back in the fridge to set for at leat 1 hour, or up to 24 hours before serving.
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- The larger the crumbs, the flakier the pastry will be. For this recipe, we do not want too much flakiness so make sure the crumbs are very small and the mixture almost looks like sand.
- To know the pastry has been mixed enough, press together some of the crumbs in your hand. If they stick together, the pastry is ready. If the crumbs don't stick together or the pastry seems to be quite dry, add a few drops of very cold water and mix until you get the desired consistency.
- Be careful with how much you cook the sugar, and use a candy thermometer if needed. The caramel will start to burn at around 180 degree Celsius (350 degree Fahrenheit) so you don't want to go any higher. Make sure to leave the sugar completely undisturbed while it is melting as any disturbance might cause the caramel to seize or crystallise.
- Caramel will be very hot at this point and if the cream is too cold, it could start splashing around and crystallise the sugar. Be very careful not to get burn (and I don't recommend making caramel with children around).
- We are not trying to fully melt the chocolate here, just to soften it slightly so that it emulsify easily with the warm cream.
- If you still notice small pieces of unmelted chocolate, place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds.