There are not many desserts more decadent and rich than a French style chocolate tart. This delicious pastry is one of my favorite things to make for houseguests as it pairs very well with afternoon tea or post-dinner coffee.
Like most tarts, this recipe is comprised of two parts. The tart shell, which is a type of shortcrust known as pate sucree, and the filling which is basically a chocolate cremeux. If you don’t want to make the crust from scratch, you can always buy it at the store.
How To Make A Classic French Chocolate Tart
Since there are two components to this dessert I am going to break it up into two recipes. If you buy a store-bought tart crust then you can skip the first part and go straight to the chocolate cremeux.
How To Make A Sweet Tart Crust
Just like with pate brisee, this sweet version of a tart crust uses fairly simple ingredients. However as with most baking recipes I do recommend you follow the weights without deviation as baking is more a science than an art.
150 grams Flour – All Purpose flour works well here. If you use cake or bread flour the crust may have unfavorable results.
50 grams Sugar – white granulated sugar is best in this recipe.
110 grams Butter – Use a quality butter with a higher fat percentage than standard American butter if you can find it. I recommend something above 82% fat (I use 82.5% fat butter for both my sweet and savory tarts).
1 large Egg Yolk
1 tbsp Milk
5 grams Vanilla Powder – if you want to use vanilla extract instead then measure out just a teaspoon.
1/4 tsp Salt
How To Make Pate Sucree Dough
Add all your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, vanilla powder, salt) to the bowl of a stand mixer and let combine. You can also do this with a whisk as it all combines pretty easily.
Next add in the butter and let run until you have a crumbly, sandy mixture. If you squeeze the mix together with your fingers it will press together, but will fall apart quickly. You want your butter to be colder than room temperature, but it does not need to be super chilled like many American pie crust recipes.
Finally add in the egg yolk and milk. Run the machine until you have a clumpy, almost cookie-dough consistency mix. In fact, pate sucree does make pretty decent sugar cookies if you wanted to do cut-out shape cookies to decorate with kids.
Remove the pate sucree dough from the mixer and form into a ball. Place in a bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Then place the bowl in the fridge to chill for a couple hours.
Baking Tart or Tartelette Shells
When your dough is sufficiently chilled (cold but not rock hard) remove it from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten it out to about a third of a centimeter (about 3-4mm).
If you are making a large single tart you will want to make the entire sheet quite uniform with no cracks or lumps. However if you are making personal tartelettes for a cocktail party for example then you can divide the dough into smaller pieces which are easier to roll out.
Press the dough into your tart mold so it is firmly compacted into shape. Then run a thin knife all along the edge to remove excess dough. I like to do this step already on my silicone baking mat so there is little movement.
Dock (poke holes) into the bottom of the tart and place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180C.
Place the tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Because we froze the dough a bit before baking, you do not need to blind bake or use pie weights. Your crust should remain flat and even, and just barely pull away from the mold when it is done. Set aside and let come completely to room temperature before adding the filling.
Making The Chocolate Cremeux Filling
Once the shell is completely cooled you can start on the cremeux filling. There are a few different ways to make this, but I find my recipe is extremely easy.
120 grams Chocolate – try to get a high quality chocolate 70% dark or higher. If you get a milk chocolate there will be too much milk fat and the final chocolate tart will not set correctly.
120 ml Heavy Cream
50 ml Milk
15 grams Butter – preferably a European butter with a fat content 82% or higher. It is much richer than the American 80% butter (yes, the 2% does make a huge difference).
2 large Eggs
In a pan on medium heat slowly heat up the milk and cream and butter. You do not want it to come to a rolling boil, but you do want it hot enough to melt the chocolate in the next step.
Pour the hot liquid mixture over your chocolate and let sit for one minute. Then use a rubber spatula to mix the milk and chocolate together until you get a completely liquid mixture.
In a bowl beat your two eggs together. Then slowly trickle them into the melted chocolate mixture as you stir with the spatula. You have to stir constantly or the egg can cook, and you absolutely do not want scrambled eggs in your chocolate tart.
When you have combined everything you are ready to fill your tart shell. If there are air bubbles in your cremeux you can tap the bowl on the table so they rise to the surface. This step is optional, it is about presentation rather than taste.
Place the tart in the fridge for at least 4 hours so it sets completely before serving. You can garnish with a variety of things, or none at all to preserve the true rich chocolate look. Enjoy!
If you prefer a fruit based tart then why not give my custard based creamy blackcurrant tart a try.
How To Decorate a Chocolate Tart
When deciding how to decorate a tart you need to realize you do not want to cover up the filling. Therefore I suggest being very minimalistic in your decorating choices. Some things I like to decorate (part of) a chocolate tart include:
- Slivered Almonds
- Chocolate Shavings
- Fresh Fruit Like Raspberries Or Strawberries
- Powdered Sugar
- 1 Tart Ring Mold | or 6-12 smaller tartelette molds if you want to make individual tarts
- 1 Baking Tray | with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
- 1 Pan
- 1 Bowl
- 1 stand mixer | optional, but makes everything much easier
Pate Sucree (Tart Crust)
- 150 grams Flour All Purpose flour works well here. If you use cake or bread flour the crust may have unfavorable results.
- 50 grams Sugar white granulated sugar is best in this recipe.
- 110 grams Butter Use a quality butter with a higher fat percentage than standard American butter if you can find it. I recommend something above 82% fat I use 82.5% fat butter for both my sweet and savory tarts.
- 1 large Egg Yolk
- 1 tbsp Milk
- 5 grams Vanilla Powder if you want to use vanilla extract instead then measure out just a teaspoon.
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 120 grams Chocolate use a high quality chocolate over 70% dark. A milk chocolate will be too runny when melted and set incorrectly.
- 120 ml Heavy Cream
- 50 ml Milk
- 2 large Eggs
- 15 grams Butter
Pate Sucree Tart Shell
- Add the flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla powder to the bowl of a stand mixer. Quickly whisk together.
- Add the butter and beat until you have a crumbly, sandy mixture.
- Add the eggs and milk and mix until you have a grainy, sugar cookie style dough. Remove from the mixer and place into the fridge to chill. Note: if your kitchen is very cold you might not need to chill the dough and you can go right on to the next step.
- Roll out your dough to about 1/3cm thickness. Drape it into your tart mold on a baking tray and press the dough into the sides so it is evenly shaped. Poke holes on the bottom with a fork. Place tray in the freezer for 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to 175C or 350F
- Place tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool completely (1-2 hours at room temperature) before adding any filling.
- In a pan on medium heat add the butter, milk, and heavy cream. Cook until you bring the mix up to a simmer, do not allow a rolling boil or it can ruin the mix.
- In a bowl place the high quality chocolate and pour over the hot liquid. Let sit for one minute, then stir with a rubber spatula to make a chocolate liquid.
- In a small bowl beat together the eggs. While stirring the chocolate mixture slowly trickle in the beaten eggs. Stir constantly to prevent the eggs from setting. Then when everything is combined tap the bowl on the counter to release the air bubbles (optional) and pour into the tart shell to the top.
- Place the chocolate tart in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set completely before cutting and serving. Enjoy!
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