The Queen of Hearts and Chocolate Caramel Tarts

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

-While the Queen of Hearts should be leading her kingdom, she's instead baking this. Who could blame her?-

The Queen of Hearts certainly gets a lot of attention. Songs, nursery rhymes, and Disney villains are centered on her royal presence.

It might be because she's the monarch of the most tender of suits. It might be her circus freak appearance what with her lower torso being a twin who was only half absorbed in the womb, and both wearing matching robes and wimples. Maybe her green thumb, and affinity for tiny flowers?

But, personally, I think it's because we adore her fondness of tarts. I submit the following evidence:

The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts all on a summer's day;
The Knave of Hearts he stole the tarts and took them clean away.
The King of Hearts called for the tarts and beat the Knave full sore
The Knave of Hearts brought back the tarts and
vowed he'd steal no more.

To have your hubby kick the heck out of a guy like he's an old soup can because he stole a tart? I dare you to find a greater example of someone's love for good food.

Now, obviously, the Queen was being selfish. Royalty or not she should share her tarts. That's why the Knave stole them, he was hungry and wanted a taste.

And, really, can you blame him?

I mean, look at this tart. Chocolate, caramel, more chocolate, and salt. What's not to love? Who wouldn't steal a piece? I would totally snag a slice of tart if it were just lying around, but I'd be smart to pack a tazer to take down kingy. And if he wasn't around and I had to deal with the Queen proper, well I doubt something like 5000 volts will take her down. After all, this is her tart we're talking about.

That's dedication you can appreciate.

Now you've probably seen this particular tart around the Internet. First on Saveur, then on Lottie+Doof, and on Eating-SF, but now you're seeing it here. This one is my tart. Actually, my first tart. Ever.

In my desire to learn more about baking I've been trying new things. This tart is a perfect beginner's tart and though it might look daunting, it isn't. Furthermore, avid tart bakers with more experience will appreciate how simply this tosses together for a real wow-factor at any event, enough to even impress a Queen.

-The obligatory chocolate caramel tart shot. Seriously, go check. If you do this recipe, you have to take this particular photo. It's one of the unsaid rules of food writing.-

Chocolate Caramel Tart
The crust for this recipe comes from Cindy Mushet's The Art and Soul of Baking and served me quite well. The caramel is adapted from Lottie+Doof. The tart recipe as a whole is adapted from Saveur.

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons of salted butter
2 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Sea salt or kosher salt for garnish

1. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and mix on medium for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the egg yolk and beat well.

2. In another bowl whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture all at once. Then mix in at lowest speed until it just comes together (it will have small and medium clumps). Any more and it will become sticky and difficult to work with.

3. Scrape dough into tart pan. Press into the bottom of the tart and outward using the heel of your palm. Use your fingers to pull the tart up the edge. Chill for an hour in the fridge. Reserve a little bit of dough to patch the shell later if necessary.

4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake tart shell for 15 minutes. Check to see if the dough has cracked, if so patch it with the reserved dough. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye on it to ensure it doesn't burn. Cool on wire rack.

5. Make the caramel: In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, and water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat until a medium-dark amber color, swirling occasionally. Take off heat and add the cream, butter, and sour cream. Stir together until smooth. Pour into cooled tart shell and let cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge to chill and set.

6. Make the ganache: Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.


-I'd totally smack a Knave if he pilfered this.-


This post extolling the awesomness of this tart was actually written before I found out that Saveur had nominated me for one of their Best Food Blog Awards. I've been nominated amongst some other amazing bloggers for the category of Best Individual Post for the cheese profile on Devil's Gulch.

I do hope you'll all go and vote for me if you feel my post exemplifies the kind of writing you hope to see in a quality food blog. =)


  1. Oh man, your post is reminding me of just how amazing this tart was--I need to make it again. Appreciate the link! Kasey

  2. Looks decadent in just the right way!
    Congrats on the nomination too.

  3. I nearly drooled in my granola and yogurt upon opening your blog. I'm among the avid bakers who've never made a tart, (Something about buying a pan with only one use, I guess.), but this post has convinced me to buy both the tart pan and some fancy salt. Thanks, I think!
    Congratulations on the nomination.

  4. Beautiful tart! I made this one last year, and it really is a visual show-stopper. I'll have to give your crust recipe a try... the one I used tasted good but the dough was difficult to work with.

    Kudos on the nom. Richly deserved!

  5. I saw you on the Saveur site---Congrats! How exciting.

    That tart looks ridiculous too, I may have to try and make that soon.

  6. This tart looks killer. I think I need it right now.

  7. Garrett,

    You are so evil...and I love you for it. I have better internet access at work and so I always read your blog when I can't immediately go out and make your incredible recipes. And, congratulations on achieving a level of food porn that immediately got my (salivary) juices flowing. Mmmmmmmmm...I'll be making this very soon.

  8. Oh dear heaven on a stick, that looks glorious. I used to love chocolate caramel slices as a kid, which were like this but with a more shortbread-y base... but somehow I think this would taste far more decadent and glorious!

  9. Hi Garrett!

    This looks so awesome! I'm salivating at the thought of having a slice.. Mmmm.. I love the last shoot of the caramel slightly oozing out from the sides.. Delicious!

    Thanks for the recipe. Will attempt it one day.

  10. Funny- we used to have a tart shop called The Queen of Tarts just up the road from us and they sold one exactly like this (well along these lines!). Sadly they have closed down recently but now I have this recipe, I guess I can make my own! Stunning pictures!

  11. That is about the most delightful thing I've ever seen. Now, instead of working, I'll be trying to figure out how I could possibly make that with a toddler around. Hmm.

  12. I gotta make this. I just gotta make this!!!

  13. I've just stumbled on your blogged, must say you are so well accomplished and talented at such a very young age. Can you make a living doing this?

  14. Think I just drooled on my desk!!
    This is DEFINITELY going to be my next feat in the kitchen.

  15. That's just amazing!

    I put garlic in everything...

    For breakfast I usually have a small amount of chopped raw garlic with leafy greens +_+

  16. looks great!! i just love caramel and chocolate!! :))

    Greets from BFC!!!

  17. Hello, have to ask an extreme beginner's question (I want to make this for my boss's birthday - and never made a tart before..). Anyway, do you butter the tart pan before laying down the dough? Or does it not stick? Thanks, eve.

  18. Annonymous: No, you do not. The fat in the tart shell is enough. =)

  19. I made this tonight... haven't eaten it yet, so this may be obvious in the morning-- but did you have any issues getting it to caramelize properly? I had it on med-high for 45 minutes and it bubbled pretty enough, but didn't darken very far. I finally gave up and went with it.

  20. Tanya - My best guess from what you have told me is that the heat wasn't high enough. However, if it looks like caramel then I think you will be fine.

  21. Thanks! It must have been either too low or too short-- it came out delicious but too gooey and not quite caramel tasting enough for me, but otherwise delicious and was gobbled up most happily. Will definitely remake it.

    By the way, have read back through several years of your archives with my extra free time (yay being Jewish during Christmas) and have really enjoyed it-- but especially enjoy the most recent months with the change of tone and more personal posts.

  22. OMG these look devine. Who can resist caramel and chocolate?

  23. I like that you substitute sour cream for the creme fraiche that is noted in the Saveur recipe. I didn't realize I could substitute with a much more readily available ingredient! Making this for Thanksgiving this year. Can't wait!

  24. Help! I made this for Easter and the caramel never set properly, and as a result, we wound up with a caramel-flavored goo tart — the entire filling was the consistency of melted ice cream. Even the ganache was gooey. It was awful (and I am quite an accomplished cook, too — not a beginner by any stretch). What did I do wrong? It was so bad we had to chuck the whole thing.

  25. Michelle: The caramel didn't cook long enough it sounds like so it stayed more a caramel sauce than a thickened caramel proper. As for nothing setting, you have to give the tart time to set. Ganache is ganache - it's a straight ratio. If it's didn't set it was because you didn't give it time to.

    In addition, a warm atmosphere can make it runny, but not total liquid runny. Without having been there it could be any number of factors and I cannot pinpoint which one.

  26. This looks amazing! Any ideas on making the crust egg-free? We have a child with a severe egg allergy... Thanks!

  27. Hi, What do you mean by heavy cream? Email me:

  28. Hi, just wondering what you meant by heavy cream. Thanks!

  29. We have heavy whipping cream here in the states. whipping cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent. It is not the same as British Double Cream which is 48 percent.

  30. Wow! I've been looking for a recipe to impress my cooking teacher (cooking project) And I think I've just found it! Im practically drooling.... What do you exactly mean by heavy cream? Thank you! :)

    1. Whipping cream is another term for it, Joni. =)

    2. Oh whoops! Thanks Garrett :)

  31. if you make it with dulce de leche instead of caramel its AWESOME
    here in Argentina we call it HAVANNET CAKE.

  32. Do you have to leave it to set for 4-5 hours?

  33. If this was the tart that the Queen made, I don't blame her at all for not wanting to share. I'd horde this tart too! Deeelish!

  34. This is a very good recipe. First time ever for me to make a tart and I love it but I did change the kind of chocolate that I made the ganache with, I used chocolate chips because my family doesn't care for the bittersweet but it looked great and tasted amazing.


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