Chocolate Caramel Tart (!?!)

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This recipe goes out to all of you chocolate lovers—don’t say I never did anything for you. This chocolate and caramel tart has provided me with a bit of an adventure, nerd-style. You may recognize it from the cover of the current issue of Saveur which features it as part of a story on the beloved Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn. The tart looks beautiful, but I first come across the recipe a while back in Diner Journal, the quarterly culinary publication by the folks that own Diner and Marlow & Sons. If you haven’t already checked out Diner Journal, please do. It is such a beautiful publication, beautiful and inspiring. And if you haven’t already eaten at Marlow & Sons and Diner—do.

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But back to the recipes: the two recipes for the same tart are quite different, and that is what intrigued me. In the issue of Diner Journal that contains the recipe, there is also a nice essay on piracy and the stealing of recipes in which they admit that the tart is originally a Claudia Fleming (Gramercy Tavern) recipe which they have been using in the restaurant and which has become their signature dessert. A comparison of the two recipe shows that there are lots of minor changes between the original (Claudia Fleming/Diner Journal) and the recipe that now appears in Saveur. I tracked down the original Claudia Fleming recipe and it much closer to the Diner Journal version than the Saveur version. I am wondering if the changes are a result of legal issues. Although it is nearly impossible to “copyright” a recipe and therefore they are essentially up for grabs, it might be in bad taste for Saveur to publish the Claudia Fleming recipe as a Marlow & Sons recipe and so they made a lot of little changes to make it their own. Which is the actual recipe that Marlow & Sons uses? In any case, after lots of careful review and reading other bloggers experiences with the Saveur recipe (it seems needlessly more complicated), I decided to stick to the original. It makes more sense to me.

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So, how was it? It was amazing. I really don’t care about chocolate but even I could recognize it was special. And the people I made it for (yes, there was a good reason I made something with chocolate) loved it. It is pretty simple to make if you can get over your fear of caramel. One thing I like about the original recipe is that it does not have a temperature in the instructions. You judge the caramel’s doneness by color—much less intimidating.

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Chocolate Caramel Tart (adapted from Claudia Fleming > Marlow & Sons > Saveur)

For the Chocolate Tart Dough

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

For the Caramel Filling

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche

For the Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Make the tart dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk; wrap well. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 325° F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough into a large circle 3/16 inch thick. Transfer the tart dough to a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press into pan. If it falls apart at all just push it back together in the pan. Chill the tart shell in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Prick the shell all over with a fork.  Line with parchment paper filled with pie weights or dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights, and bake until the pastry looks dry and set, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shell can be made 8 hours ahead.)

Make the filling: Place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes a dark-amber caramel (I removed it when it was sort of a medium amber since I knew it would continue to cook off heat), about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and carefully (the mixture will bubble up) and slowly add the heavy cream followed by the butter and crème fraîche. Stir until smooth. (The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.) Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and allow to set, first at room temperature and then in the regrigerator.

Make the ganache glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganazhe over the tart. Refrigerate until set.

Remove the tart from the refridgerator 5-10 minutes before you are ready to serve it. Cut the tart into slices and sprinkle each with Fleur de Sel.

103 comments to “Chocolate Caramel Tart (!?!)”

  1. I really, really need to go to Marlow & Sons. Some weekend when the L train is running.

    This looks incredible.

  2. omg, I don’t cook anymore really, but I am TOTALLY going to try making that! OMG! and you don’t even really love chocolate, but look how good you are to us chocolate lovers.

  3. Dude. WOW.

    Do you exercise like a maniac, because you make such delicious looking rich food!

  4. You said Marlow & Sons and my ears perked up. I can’t be the only one who has a little crush on Sean Rembold! I find him just about as delicious as that tart! Which, um. YUM.

  5. I am one of the “people” that tasted this delight. There are only 3 words to describe it: OH MY GOD.

  6. ohhh… i saw that on the cover of saveur too and my mouth instantly started to water. it looks amazing.
    p.s. i love diner journal too… it’s pretty dreamy.

  7. Maggie: yes, go!

    Beth: I only ate one slice. The trick is making other people eat what I make. Also, the rest of my diet is pretty healthy. Or, I’m exercising as I type this…

    Sarah: thanks for the tes”tim”onial.

  8. Oh – that looks so good!!! Oh, man… my mouth is watering!

  9. All: for those of you who prefer to judge the caramel by its temperature, it should reach about 365° F when it is done. I took it off of the heat at 360° F.

  10. This looks and sounds great :)

  11. Love that last pic!!! :) This is amazingly delicious looking. Yummmmm!

  12. Nice job with the last picture :) I need to get a tart pan!

  13. Yummm…that oozy caramel is literally making my mouth water!

  14. HOLY FUCK!

    (I’m sorry, am I allowed to use such profanity on your pristine site?! I just couldn’t help myself. I literally wrote the first words that came out of my mouth when I saw that lil slice of heaven.)

  15. I heart you for posting this.

  16. I am a sick chocoholic, and I just make this last week!!! It was so, so, so good…and I’ve just finished my post, which I’m still gonna post. Hope you don’t mind….It was a finale to an amazing- b-day dinner.

  17. If the caramel is made and refrigerated several days before the tart is made, must it be heated before pouring into the tart shell? Presumably…

  18. Hi Deborah: Yes, if you make the caramel in advance, simply warm it up so it is pourable and then proceed with the recipe.

  19. Thanks, Tim.

  20. UNBELIEVABLE!!! Thanks for the recipe!

  21. Food Porn at its best. I should be paying to view this.

  22. This was amazing and a HUGE hit with Easter dinner crowd last night. I did have trouble with the crust – it was super crumbly. I ended up rolling out small sections and then piecing it together in the pan. The caramel was really easy but be careful not to burn it! It came out perfectly the 2nd time I made it :-)

  23. Hi Larkyn: I’m glad you liked the tart! Yes, the crust isn’t the best, but luckily it is very forgiving and you can just sort of press it into the pan. Thanks for writing.

  24. This is some serious food porn.

  25. I have been staring at the cover of my Saveur for a month now, trying to find an occasion to make this cake. It just looks incredible! I love the chocolate crust.

  26. I am in love with you, Tim. I am a poor, poor college student with no money, but my next paycheck is going towards all the ingredients in this recipe….forget vegetables, laundry, and books! This looks like it will be all I need in my life.

  27. Thank you thank you thank you! While I made this for dinner for two I’ve had to slowly give away pieces to anyone who comes over (a neighbor, a friend taking me to get my car from the shop, the waiter where we go for girls’ night on Mondays almost got one but I was running late and forgot) Oh, it’s beautiful. Also, I think it would make incredible, easily handed out cookies. That’s what I’m going for the next time.

  28. Thanks for writing a little bit about the difference between the two recipes – good to know. I had bookmarked Saveur’s recipe, but will be using Claudia’s book version instead now. Or – perhaps for quicker gratification – simply going to M&S myself, like, NOW.

  29. Yes, Luisa, I think a trip to Marlow & Sons is always the best solution.

  30. this is simply amazing… your blog is fantastic…

  31. yes please! I am loving this blog. I was just at Marlow & Sons while on vacation last month. It’s rare, living in Portland, that I have food envy in other cities, but M&S gets my jealousy going every single time.

  32. Crust: Check. Forgiving and a little of it stuck to the parchment paper, but not worried.
    Carmel: Check. Beautiful and warming near the stove vent as the crust cools.
    Ganache to be made first thing tomorrow morning. Husband and step dad (and my two kids are very anxious for tomorrow evening! Reviews to follow!

  33. hey ! so glad i discovered your site – thanks to Bedlam of Beefy. i obviously have a lot of catching up to do here – everything looks tempting and delicious, great photos ! but helloooo, i didn’t have a hard time deciding where to start. HERE !!! looks divine !! and anything of claudia flemings’ tastes divine too ! can’t wait to try . .

  34. Hi, thanks for the recipe.
    What should I do if I didn’t cook the sugar/water/syrup mixture for long enough? After I added the butter and cream it was still rather liquidy. Can I fix it?

  35. Hi Elly: I don’t know of a way to fix it at that point, sorry. Anyone else?

  36. I am speechless. AMAZING!

  37. Chocolate and caramel…my fave dessert combo. Forget birthday cake; I’m making birthday tart for myself! Thanks for the recipe!

  38. OMG, my blood sugar skyrocketed just by looking at this!My kids would be whirling like a top after they get a slice of this :) Love it!

  39. I made this for a dessert party and it was a huge hit! Came out looking exactly like the pictures! Thanks for the great recipe!

  40. Thank you for this recipe! I live in the UK so i wouldn’t have found it otherwise! My boyfriend and I had a wonderful time making this over the weekend and had an even better time eating it! If anything this recipe taught me how important patience is when baking! There was a number of times where my willpower was tested to the limit and I have to admit I came close to eating the caramel out of the bowl!

    Thanks again!

  41. I’m glad it worked and was worth the effort!

  42. I have not yet made this dessert but am wondering if those of you who have think that a shortbread crust would work?

  43. OMG- this is my very favorite dessert from my very favorite Williamsburg restaurant!! I used to get it every year on my birthday when I lived in South W’burg. I live in Mexico now, where every now and then I still DREAM about this tart. This year (assuming I can get all the ingredients and/or sub out the ones I can’t find), I’m gonna MAKE it for my birthday! THANK YOU!!! (is there a substitution for créme fraiche?)

  44. Hi Missy! I am glad you love this dessert! It is amazing. Creme Fraiche can be made by combining some heavy cream and buttermilk. Google and you’ll find plenty of recipes for it. Since you are in Mexico, I am wondering if you could just substitute Crema, which seems so similar to creme fraiche. Let me know what you end up doing!

  45. Thanks, Tim! I did a little recon and it sounds like crema will work perfectly. I will definitely keep you posted. Many thanks!

  46. PS I’m also considering using Mexican cocoa powder, which has a hint of canela. Never have I looked so forward to having another birthday…

  47. I’ve been making this tart {or a version of it} since Claudia’s book The Last Course came out in 2001, and it never fails, but I had nearly forgotten about it until you {and Saveur} made it look so irresistibly good. I read this last night, and I woke up thinking about it this morning.

    Your site rocks! Love your concept, your photos, and stories. And love that we love the same places in Brooklyn.

  48. Oh my, this looks amazing. Lots of inspiring things…

  49. That tart looks obscenely good! Your entry has really set my baking teeth on edge and now I am itching to bake and eat that tart. On days like this, I wish I could visit the restaurant and get myself a slice of that. Sucks to be an ocean away. D:

  50. I just made that tart and it looks amazing (same as the pic), I can’t wait to try it after it cools.

  51. this looks so beautiful – i’m going to make it for a dinner tonight. one question: how cool/set does the caramel have to be before the ganache can be added? many thanks for posting such a beautiful recipe!

  52. Hi Jenna, The caramel should be pretty firm. After it gets to room temperature, let it spend at least a couple of hours in the fridge. So, start baking now!

  53. thanks Tim!

  54. I tried making the tart last night for a holiday get together. After two attempts at making caramel, I found a consistency that I liked. Two questions: Is the caramel supposed to ooze out when you serve it a room temperature? As well, is the ganache supposed to be solid on top of the tart after refrigeration? People liked the taste but I am not sure if the consistency was correct on my part.

  55. hi sarah! when i have made the tart, the caramel is fairly soft (ooze!) at room temperature and the ganache is fairly solid after refrigerating. It all softens up a little bit as it sits. I would guess that taking it out of fridge about 30-45 minutes prior to serving is perfect.

  56. That’s one sexy tart!

  57. Oh my, love this recipe! we will do it soon. also, loveour blog. found it on Stumbleon. best from Montecito, California.

  58. This was one of the three desserts I baked this weekend and it was the hit of the progressive dinner party. People could not stop talking about it. I am running off more copies of this recipe because I gave mine away and several neighbors have also requested it.

  59. Oh, yay! I am so glad it was good!

  60. Beautifully and apparently tasty. Thank you.

  61. Thank you thank you thank you …..this has to be one of the yummiest choc caramel tarts that I have ever made and had!!! I have given you a big thanks on our Aussie blogspot…..yum…..thank you!!! I made a gluten free paste base and it just was divine!!!

  62. yikes! my 2 fave flavors!

  63. I would consider trading my first born for a eternal supply of these!

  64. I am quite late to comment, but I must! I found out recently that I am chocoholic, so this dessert is in the top of my to do list! Thanks for sharing!

  65. My daughter made this for her own birthday dessert. It was very sweet, but was so good that I had a skinny second piece.

  66. Hi Tim!

    My boyfriend is a lover of all things sweet/chocolate [me? not so much. I'll take a bag of pistachios over chocolate any day]. I’m giving this recipe a try tonight but much prefer Golden Syrup to Corn Syrup… though I know it’s not easy to find in the US. Since I don’t assume you’re checking comments on here 24 hours of day, I’m going to guess the switch will work and give it a go anyways. Will report back with results.

    Wonderful, wonderful recipe [and site!]

  67. Hey Kelly! Lyle’s will work just fine. No worries! Happy baking!

  68. Me again! So the Lyles worked great and tasted great – but my caramel didn’t set too well. I didn’t have the creme fraiche so I didn’t use it but I can’t imagine that would matter TOO much. Any ideas what would cause this? Maybe too short cooking time?

  69. Hey Kelly, It could be a million things. Well, maybe not a million. Not cooking it enough is definitely a possibility. I don’t think the creme fraiche makes any difference. Did if firm up when you refrigerated it? Hmmm. Well, hopefully it still tasted good!

  70. It firmed up a bit but still pours out when I cut a slice. It definitely tasted good, and there are much worse things than eating a pile of soft chocolate and gooey caramel!

    Will try again another time soon and cook the caramel for longer and see if it helps! Thanks Tim!

  71. Good God, that is a thing of beauty! Truly stunning. I can only imagine how good it tastes….

  72. Tim, can you tell us what brand of bittersweet chocolate you used? I’ve got my Valrhona all set for the crust, but I’d like a chocolate recommendation for the ganache. I’m making this for a really special person’s birthday, so I’m goin’ for tops! Thanks.

  73. Hi Kari, I use Valrhona. I’m not sure what percentage I used, but I would guess the 68%. I think any of the bittersweets would be great. Good luck!

  74. Made this yesterday to bring to work today. Don’t really like it – must have screwed it up.

    Some comments:

    1. I used TJs bittersweet block chocolate and it totally overwhelms the caramel.

    2. The caramel is pretty good – when I can taste it. The color of mine is pretty similar to the pictures above, maybe a bit lighter – so maybe I should have cooked it more. There’s not much depth to it. Next time I’ll use my trusty thermapen. I also wish I’d added some salt directly to the caramel to cut the baseline sweetness.

    2. My crust was in 17 pieces before it made it to the tart pan (I counted) and it tastes…ok. I’d prefer something buttery without chocolate since the ganache is so chocolate-y already.

    3. Not a good recipe for work, because it glacially glops over the course of 10 or so minutes once it’s cut, as is evident from the photos. So, once cut, it can’t sit out for hours waiting for some poor unsuspecting engineer to walk by and become ensnared by calorie-filled goodness. Not a bad thing, just a warning for those who might benefit from my lesson in poor judgement.

    May try it again some day given the glowing reviews above, but based on this experience, it wasn’t worth my few precious kid-free hours for the week. :( Kudos to those of you who nailed it!

  75. Hey Joanne,
    Sorry you didn’t like it. It is a little difficult and can easily go wrong at any of the steps. Also, with so few ingredients I am guessing that things like chocolate or darkness of caramel might make a big difference in the finished product. And I do agree it isn’t a great recipe for work, unless you have a fridge you can keep it in until you are ready to serve. Better luck next time! and thanks for letting us know.

  76. I could have an inappropriate relationship with this tart it looks so good. I think I’m in love. :D

  77. Hi Tim
    I’ve been waiting to make this for ages in order to bring it to my cousin’s place – we’re have an oh-I-just-whipped-this-up (when clearly I didn’t) relationship. It’s all in fun and gets us to try new things. I also cooked the caramel for too short a period but I just kept cooking the caramel with all the ingredients in it on low heat, stirring frequently and it is perfectly fine. I figured it was either that or start from scratch and I want to impress my cousin but not that much :)
    Thanks for the recipe and great site!

  78. Wow-this looks so delicious!!

  79. Hi Tim,

    If I can’t find Fleur de Sel, could I replace with regular sea salt or Kosher salt or should I just leave the salt out completely?

  80. Made this and it was delicious and surprisingly easy!

    However, my caramel didnt turn out all yummy gooey like Tim’s, mine was more or a sticky, hard toffee. Good, but not what I was going for. What did i do wrong? It was the right amber color, but came out waaaayyy too thick.

  81. Just saw the credit…I swear it wasn’t there before!

  82. Jaime, thanks for having my back! Believe it or not, you are the second reader to write to me this morning because of this photo. Makes me feel really good that people are looking out for me. But refinery29 did credit, so all is well.

  83. Also, Jaime- I just clicked over to your blog. It is great! Really glad to have found it. Thanks…

  84. Goodness gracious me…thank you Tim! Yep, I got your back!

  85. Good God! I have never seen anything like this; it looks absolutely fantastic, to say the very least!

  86. Wow!

    That’s the one and only word that springs to mind. Send summa that over my way :)

  87. thanks for sharing this. i think it is worth the effort, frankly. i had quite a bit more caramel than i needed (not a leftover anyone is complaining about). to an earlier commenter’s point, i think the creme fraiche does make a difference, in terms of stabilizing and flavour. i will probably make this again with a different crust though – i thought this one was underwhelming in flavour and texture. i don’t love the way that the caramel all oozes out of the tart leftovers – we only ate half at dinner, but this could be easily remedied by a) eating all of the tart at once, or b), making it in individual tarts.

  88. Hi Tim! Can you tell me how firm the caramel should be at room temp? I made the caramel today, and it was divine, but it seemed a little more firm than yours looks in the picture. Should it be super gooey, or a bit thick?

    Thanks! Can’t wait to try the finished product this weekend!

  89. Hi Melina,
    When I have made this in the past the caramel is pretty soft at room temperature (like in the photos). The challenge then, is that when you cut a slice it kind of oozes all over the place. (though nobody complains about that). I think yours will be fine! A little firmer might be nice. Enjoy!

  90. I just finished this today for my husband’s birthday, and we all agree—it’s excellent! A fast favorite. I have never made anything like this, so I had to Google “blind-baking” and inevitably messed up the crust a bit. The edges of the crust sunk down—should I have put enough beans on the parchment to reach the top of the pan to keep the sides from shrinking? Thanks again!

  91. Sometimes the crust shrinks a bit, despite our best efforts. I usually do fill up the shell as much as possible to prevent shrinking, but as long as it tasted good the other stuff might not matter. ; )

  92. That is too funny! I’ve visited your site um, a million times, and I never noticed the picture in the corner (the one for chocolate caramel tart). But this week I started going through old Saveur issues and the tart caught my eye…and then I noticed your photo today. Looks like you did it justice. I was thinking it was going to be too much work, but you’ve inspired me to go ahead with it! Maybe for a special occasion–like our good friend’s anniversary. I’ve been to Marlow & Sons three times and it is amazing! The have another place, Diner, the is a must-go-to place for brunch if you find yourself in Brooklyn. Gorgeous photos!

  93. Batya, the tart is totally worth the effort! And Diner is great, another Brooklyn classic.

  94. I just made this and it was so amazing; everyone who had even the slightest amount in their mouth said it was the best thing they’ve ever had. We ate it both at room-temperature and right out of the refridgerator – serving it more chilled allowed the caramel to be a bit thicker and was still delightful.

  95. I know this is late, but I just made this tart and I wanted to mention that readers who prefer not to use corn syrup (or who live in a country where it is not readily available) can use one teaspoon of cream of tartar instead. I just mixed the cream of tartar and sugar together, added the water, and let it caramelise. The cream of tartar performs the same function as corn syrup, which is to prevent the sugar from crystallising and producing a grainy caramel. I hope this helps!

  96. Wow! This looks amazing – can’t wait to attempt to make it!

  97. I made this for dessert Christmas Eve. All I can say is yum. The caramel was perfect; it tasted like a professional pastry chef had made it. I will never, ever use store bought caramel for a recipe again.

  98. Well, this is just obscene. I need to make it.

  99. Instead of using a large tart pan, I made this recipe into four individual sized tart pans (bought them at Bed Bath & Beyond). That way if the caramel runs out it won’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The individual size is even perfect for sharing because it is a rich desset, so it’s really like I made 8 servings. They came out perfectly and everyone loved this recipe!

  100. You’re killing me here, Tim! I was just casually browsing the Net and then – BAM! I find your blog again (I once stumbled on your blog and used a sugar cookie recipe from here.) and I’m getting so hungry. So, so hungry.

  101. Wow.
    I want to have a piece of this tarte, now please!

  102. I made this for the fourth time and it was just as wonderful as the first. What I love about this tart is that even people who aren’t “dessert-eaters” or “chocolate people” still love the tart. It goes great with milk and also great with a fruity red wine. Thank you for a recipe that has become one of my favorite things to make and share with friends.

What do you think?