In general, I’m pretty good at sharing.  In fact, I think I could be called generous in most respects.  But not when it comes to dessert.  Particularly when that dessert involves chocolate.  Whenever Ben and I go out to dinner and decide to indulge in dessert, we usually split something.  But the more chocolate it involves, the less inclined I am to share.  When it’s chocolate mousse, I don’t even try to pretend.  I’m ordering that all on my own.  But there is definitely something to be said for sharing desserts.  The obvious is at least some semblance of portion control, but also the joy in the experience of sharing with someone you love.  Joking over who will get the last bite (he always leaves it for me…he’s a good one).  These chocolate caramel tartlets are a great dessert for sharing because one is definitely too much to eat solo but when split with someone else, it’s just right.

In case you’re thinking of making a special Valentine meal in rather than going out, this is a fabulous dessert option because it can be made in advance and keeps very well.  The recipe as written here makes enough for six tarlets, so consider sharing the tartlet love amongst your friends so they can enjoy with their special someone.  I think a set of tartlet pans is a second-tier kitchen must-have.  Like, you don’t really have to have it, but I promise if you have them, you’ll find tons of uses for them.  If you would rather make this as a full size tart, you may need to scale back the ingredients slightly, though I haven’t tested a full size version so I can’t say for sure.

Here’s to chocolate and to sharing!

Note: This recipe was developed as part of my ongoing contribution to the Go Bold with Butter blog.  Head over to see my posts as well as more great recipes from the other awesome bloggers involved with the project!

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12 tbsp. (6 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream

For the caramel layers: 

  • 12 oz. soft caramel candies, unwrapped, divided*
  • 2½ tbsp. heavy cream, divided

For the chocolate filling: 

  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions

  • 01

    To make the dough, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a fork to blend.  Add the cubes of butter to the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal and small pieces of butter remain.  Add in the egg yolk, vanilla and heavy cream, and stir with a fork until a dough comes together.  Knead very briefly, handling as little as possible, until the dough has an even consistency.  Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

  • 02

    Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness or slightly thinner.  Cut out rounds large enough to fully line the mini tart pans (pans 4-inches diameter, at least 1 inch high), about 6 inches in diameter.  Line the pans with the dough, pressing into the edges of the pans to fill the fluted portions.  Trim away the excess dough.  Line each crust with a small piece of foil and fill with baking beads (dry rice or beans will also work).  Place the tart pans on a baking sheet.  Transfer to the oven and bake about 18 minutes, until mostly set.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚ F, remove the foil and baking beads.  Return the tart shells to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more.  Transfer the tart shells to a wire rack to cool completely (leave in the pans).

  • 03

    To make the bottom caramel layer, combine 9 ounces of the caramels with 2 tablespoons of the cream in a medium bowl.  Microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is fully melted and smooth.  (Alternatively this can be done in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.)  Divide between the tart shells, pouring an even layer to cover the bottom of each shell.  Transfer the pans to the refrigerator or freezer and let chill until the caramel layer is set, about 30 minutes.

  • 04

    Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer in the microwave or a saucepan.  Pour the hot cream and the corn syrup over the chopped chocolate and let stand about 2 minutes.  Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms.  Whisk in the butter until completely incorporated and the mixture is totally smooth.  In another small bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of caramels and the remaining 1½ teaspoons of cream.  Microwave in short intervals (it may only take one) until fully melted and smooth.  Divide the chocolate mixture between the tartlet shells, pouring an even layer over the caramel.  Immediately top each with three small dots of the caramel.  Use a toothpick or skewer to marble in a heart pattern.  Refrigerate until fully set, at least 2 hours.  Just before serving, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel.

  • 05

    *The better the quality of the caramels you use, the better this dessert will taste.  I like to make my own caramels and use those.  Make them now and have them ready when you want to make the tartlets…assuming they survive that long, of course :) 

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2842/10630911134_20c996241e_z.jpg