Chocolate Walnut Caramel Tart

choc tart  (2)

This beautiful looking and very rich tasting tart might seem complicated at first glance, but it goes together more easily than you might imagine. You can make it from start to finish in about two hours or make parts of it ahead of time: the decorative nuts, the pastry, the caramel. I particularly love caramel and when I make this tart again, I think I will increase the amount of caramel by half again. Adapted from the SFBI.

Makes one 9-inch or 4 by 12-inch tart; serves about 10


For the pastry (Chocolate Walnut Sable Breton)

  • 90 g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 65 g (about 1/3 cup) sugar
  • 3 g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 40 g (2) egg yolks at room temperature
  • 78 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 20 g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
  • 4.5 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 32 g (1/4 cup) walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

For the caramel

  • 45 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream
  • 30 g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 3 g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 90 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 32 g (1/4 cup) walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 2 g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

For the ganache

  • 240 g (1 cup) heavy cream
  • 290 g (about 1 1/2 cups) chopped dark chocolate, at least 64% cocoa
  • 60 g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and very soft

For finishing


  1. To make the pastry: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter until smooth and very soft. It should be the texture of mayonnaise. On low speed, mix in the sugar, salt, and egg yolks. Go very slowly so you don’t beat any air into the mixture.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. On low, add them to the butter just until evenly mixed. Scrape down the sides as needed. Mix in the walnuts. If using immediately, drop blobs of the dough around the bottom of the tart mold. Pop the mold into the freezer until the dough is cold. Or wrap the pastry in plastic and refrigerate for several hours or up to several days or freeze.
  3. Press the pastry into an even layer. Do not press the dough up the sides. If it warms, it will get very sticky, at which point you should not lift your fingers as you press. If you do, you will just get more and more dough stuck to your fingers.
  4. Bake the dough until slightly puffed, firm around the edges, and slightly firm in the middle, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack to room temperature before filling with caramel.
  5. To make the caramel: Microwave the cream, butter, and salt in a small bowl or measuring cup until hot or heat in a small saucepan. Keep hot until needed.
  6. Heat a heavy, 1 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Sprinkle in a little of the sugar and wait until it melts. Add a little more sugar and let it melt. Continue adding the sugar, little by little, and tilting and swirling the pan to incorporate the new additions into the already melted sugar. This takes just a few minutes and requires your complete attention.
  7. When all the sugar has melted, cook it to a reddish brown. Remove the pan from the heat, and, using a long-handled wooden spoon, stir in a little of the hot cream mixture. The caramel will bubble furiously so be careful. Add the rest of the cream and stir well. Stir in the walnuts. Cool a few minutes and then stir in the vanilla. Cool to room temperature. The caramel can be kept refrigerated up to a week or two. Rewarm the caramel gently, if needed, to return it to a spreadable consistency before using.
  8. Spread the caramel in an even layer onto the cooled chocolate crust. Leave a 1-inch border free all around the edge. Chill the tart in the freezer while making the ganache.
  9. To make the ganache: Bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Put the chopped chocolate in a shallow bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover the bowl, and let sit until the chocolate softens and melts, 1 or 2 minutes.
  10. Using a heat-proof spatula, begin stirring the chocolate and cream together. Start in the middle of the bowl, making very small, quick circles in a single direction. The chocolate and cream will begin to form a stable, shiny emulsion. As the emulsion forms, increase the size of the circles to incorporate more cream.
  11. When all the cream has been incorporated, stir in the butter until completely melted and smooth. Immediately pour the ganache onto the chilled tart base. It should fill the mold to the top.
  12. To finish the tart: Gently press the walnuts into the ganache to form a decorative rim. Place a small piece of edible gold leaf in the center if you like. Chill the tart until serving time.
  13. Let the tart stand at room temperature for a few minutes before serving. This might be enough to allow you to carefully push up on the bottom of the tart and remove it from the rim. Otherwise, briefly wrap a warm, wet kitchen towel around the tart to warm the edge slightly and release the rim.
  14. Serve the tart with lightly sweetened whipped cream on the side.

Quick Notes

Use a tart pan with a removable bottom.

The pastry is a cookie dough. You could double the recipe, use half for the tart, roll the rest into a log, then slice and bake it as cookies.

The dough is easiest to work with when cold, so pop it in the freezer for a few minutes before pressing it into the pan. Or if you’ve made it ahead, break the pastry disc into pieces and place around the pan. Then press these out into an even layer.

This recipe uses a dry caramel technique. You do not melt the sugar in water. Instead, you heat the pan until hot and then sprinkle in the sugar. Once it has the cream in it, you can keep cooking the caramel to drive off more liquid and make chewy caramels. For the ganache, chop the chocolate into small pieces and work quickly so that you fully incorporate the cream and butter before the mixture gets too cool. Don’t work on a cold counter and make sure your bowl is at least at room temperature.

One Response to “Chocolate Walnut Caramel Tart”

  1. carol mcintyre
    1. January 2010 um 13:29


    Easy access and very handy for finding exactly what I wanted. No problem printing. I have the color picture of the cake and all the printed words!

    Thank you for making it easy.


Today I enjoyed the beautiful loaf of bread I baked last night, and it was glorious! My husband loved it, too, and had it for breakfast and lunch. I felt so proud and accomplished and could not believe I’d actually produced it myself. However, I realize that most of the thanks goes to you for teaching me so well the other day. Thank you!

-Laura Wilson Hill, San Francisco

About Penni

Over 30 years as a food and wine professional, writer, and editor.

Cookbook author including:
'The Tra Vigne Cookbook' for Michael Chiarello,
'The Basque Kitchen' for Gerald Hirigoyen
and 'BurgerBar' for Hubert Keller.

Contact Penni Wisner