Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

by Anne Maxfield on March 19, 2018

Accidental Locavore Salted Caramel Chocolate TartThis salted caramel chocolate tart recipe from bon appétit looks complicated but if you’ve made tarts before, it’s not hard. You’ll need to devote some time to the process but a lot of it can be done ahead of time, chilled and assembled later. It’s all worth it! Check out “my verdict” for some tips before you start. 


  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons chilled milk or water


  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt


  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate (do not go above 70% cacao), finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Flaky sea salt, like Maldon

Accidental Locavore Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart FillingCrust

Whisk cocoa, sugar, salt, and 1⅔ cups flour in a medium bowl. Add butter and toss to coat. Using your fingers, smash butter into dry ingredients until it nearly disappears (you shouldn’t see any large bits) and mixture holds together when squeezed—you’re working it more than you would pie dough. Make a well in the center and add yolk and milk. Using a fork, gradually incorporate flour mixture until you’ve got a shaggy dough. Knead a couple of times in bowl until no dry spots remain, and dough is smooth.

Flatten into a ¾”-thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and chill until firm, about 2 hours (if you’re making the caramel, you can make it while the dough is chilling).

Preheat oven to 350°. Let dough sit 5 minutes to soften slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 14″ round about ⅛” thick, dusting with more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Lift dough on one edge and throw a pinch of flour on surface.

Slide the removable bottom of tart pan under dough, positioning it roughly in the center.

Fold the edges of the rolled dough inward toward the center, working all the way around so it rests on top of the tart pan bottom. Then lower it into the tart pan. Unfold the edges so they gently slump against the sides of the tart pan and the excess dough is hanging over the edges. Press dough firmly into bottom of pan with floured hands, then firmly press sides of dough into grooves and up sides of pan. Use a rolling pin over top edge of pan to shear off excess dough.

Reserve dough scraps for patching any potential cracks later. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork and chill in freezer until very firm, 10–15 minutes.

Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and line with a sheet of parchment paper or foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake until edges of crust are set and starting to look dry, 12–15 minutes. Carefully lift parchment with weights. Patch any visible cracks with reserved dough. Return crust to oven and bake until firm and dry all over, 18–22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Salted Caramel Filling

Bring sugar, cream of tartar, and ⅓ cup water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-low, stirring with a heatproof spatula until dissolved. Cook, swirling pot often but not stirring, until mixture turns deep amber and wisps of smoke rise from the surface, 8–10 minutes. Remove caramel from heat and immediately stir in butter a piece at a time until smooth (be careful; mixture will sputter). Gradually stir in cream, then add salt. Transfer caramel to a heatproof measuring glass (you should have about 1½ cups). Let cool until warm.

Pour caramel into cooled tart shell. Chill until caramel is set, at least 1 hour. 


Place chocolate, cream, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water). Stir with a heatproof spatula until ganache is smooth, about 5 minutes. Let cool until thickened enough to hold an indentation from a spoon—if it’s too warm, it won’t hold its swirls.

Remove tart from refrigerator and scrape ganache over caramel. Using a spoon, gently work ganache over surface, creating decorative swooshes and swirls. Sprinkle with sea salt; let sit until ganache has lost its sheen, 10–15 minutes. 

Accidental Locavore Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart SliceMy verdict: This was totally worth it! Amazing salted caramel chocolate tart! As I said in the beginning, it needs lots of time (mostly cooling and resting), which I didn’t plan for when I was making it.

First, I made the dough in the food processor. It was fine, but I did end up putting it in a bowl and kneading it by hand until everything was incorporated. Not sure that the food processor saved any time.

There was a lot of dough leftover, so I rerolled it and made three mini tart shells for future use (not sure how that’s going to work). I mixed some cocoa powder in with the flour when I was rolling out the dough, so there wouldn’t be a lot of white flour marks on my dough.

My big hack on this was using a 6-ounce jar of my friend Kristin’s Cara-Sel amazing salted caramel sauce for the filling. I’m lucky enough to have easy access to it, you should just order some and thank me later.

The ganache took forever (i.e. more than 10 minutes) to cool until it was workable. If I had to guess, it’s about an hour. I was in a hurry, so I tossed the (metal) bowl in the freezer and it chilled to the right temperature in about 10 minutes.






5 Chocolate Ideas for Valentine’s Day

by Anne Maxfield on February 13, 2017

A friend of the Accidental Locavore inspired this piece.

He said he was having Valentine’s Day dinner cooked for him for the first time in his life, but that the cook was still going to get chocolates from him. Sweet.

It made me think about alternatives to the traditional heart-shaped box. Okay, or square box.

Not that there’s anything wrong with chocolate in any form.

Here are five chocolate desserts that are favorites and will be appreciated by anyone (and it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day). Always use the best chocolate you can find.

  1. Molten Chocolate Cakes: I laugh every time I see these on a menu. Why? Because they’re super easy to make and always impressive. Even if you don’t bake, you can pull these off. A few raspberries and maybe some vanilla ice cream and you’ve got a Valentine’s Day treat. Bonus: you can make them ahead, bring them with you and just pop them in the oven as dinner is wrapping up.
  2. Ultimate Chocolate Cookies: These cookies with chocolate in three different forms are amazing! And being that cookies are totally ready to go, you’ll be excused if not all of them make it to the intended recipient.
  3. Caramel and Chocolate Tart: This is a little more complicated, but no less delicious. It’s a tart shell lined in chocolate and topped with caramel. Depending on your need to be trendy (or not), pick a garnish of Malden salt or some chocolate shavings.
  4. Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse: Another winner that travels easily, this just takes chocolate mousse to another level. If you want to dress it up even more to impress your Valentine, some tuiles are easy to make and add a nice crunch to the mousse.
  5. Chocolate and Cheesecake Brownies: Chocolate, check. Cheesecake, check. Portable, check. Elevate your brownies to the next level with this recipe. While it will never replace a classic brownie in my book, the cheesecake topping dresses it up for a special occasion.
  6. DIY Hot Chocolate Mix: For this you might want to find a pretty container (mine just sits in a Ball jar). Six ingredients and you’ve got a superior hot chocolate mix. It’s easily tweaked depending on how dark you like your cocoa. If you’re not a purist, some chipotle powder or coffee could be interesting.

Which of these do you think would bring smiles to your Valentine, or any dinner guests?


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Chocolate and Salt-A Purist’s View

by Anne Maxfield on January 12, 2015

cioccolato fuso in tegame di rameIt might have been the Tasting Table article with chef Michael Anthony and the Salted Chocolate Rye Cookies (really?) that finally pushed the Accidental Locavore over the edge. Chocolate is a wonderful thing on its own. Ditto salt. And while they both play well with others, there are times when letting them be a solo act is so much more appealing.

Accidental Locavore Caramel Tart

These days it’s rare to find anything caramel that doesn’t have the word salted preceding it, but Dorie Greenspan dared to have a caramel tart in her new book Baking Chez Moi which I made (to great acclaim) for Thanksgiving. While anything Dorie bakes is usually great, this recipe was especially appealing because the caramel wasn’t salted (nor was there a garnish of some expensive hand-picked and tweezer-placed sea salt). The chocolate that coated the crust was simply chocolate. It made a fabulous tart, and as much as I don’t usually bake, this may make it into my dessert rotation.

Accidental Locavore Ultimate Chocolate CookiesSpeaking of chocolate, why can’t it be left alone? My mother has always had the unfortunate habit of adding coffee to her otherwise fabulous chocolate sauce*. And she’s not the only one. Try browsing through a selection of chocolate bars, from bacon to chipotle and beyond, and each has a flavor usually associated with savory foods. Sorry, but I don’t want my chocolate to taste like breakfast, lunch or dinner! That’s why when I made Nancy’s cookies I left the coffee out and they were amazing!

There are times when a little chocolate adds an interesting layer of flavor to savory foods. Mole comes immediately to mind (as does the unforgettable odor of roasting chocolate, custom blended at the market in Oaxaca). I’ve added it to coq au vin and when I remember, to short ribs or beef stews.

Accidental Locavore SaltsA small bit of salt does bring out the flavor of sweet foods, but the idea that salt now needs to be a major player in every dessert has long ago jumped the shark. While an occasional chocolate, salted caramel ________ is a treat, how about if we save the sea salt for what it’s best for, garnishing that perfect tomato in August?


*Sorry Mom, but you know the coffee thing makes me crazy





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Cooking for Show: The Easiest Fruit Tarts

by Anne Maxfield on July 24, 2014

Accidental Locavore Peach and Apricot TartsMen…! Close to the last minute, the Accidental Locavore’s husband said we were expected to bring dessert for thirty-six to a Saturday party. I can generally whip up respectable desserts for dinner guests, but in no way do desserts count as one of my strengths as a cook. So, what to make? Cookies – too ordinary. Peach cobbler? Good, but it had to travel and wouldn’t be warm when we got there, losing some, if not most, of its appeal.

Accidental Locavore Tart AssemblyBon Appetite had a recipe for a plum tart made with puff pastry that looked easy enough to do at the last minute (without crashing and burning), and there were three packages of puff pastry in the freezer from an earlier consulting gig – two regular and one chocolate. The chocolate one would get either raspberries or cherries and the others would get peaches and apricots. Here’s the basic recipe, which makes 8 tarts:

  • 1 14 oz. package puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 pound fruit
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°. Peel the fruit and slice into 1/2″ slices. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the puff pastry into 4″ squares and prick all over with a fork. Place the fruit on the pastry and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Chocolate Cherry TartsMy verdict: Definitely keeping puff pastry on hand. This was super easy and the hit of the party! I made three different combinations. Chocolate puff pastry with cherries, pitted and sliced in half with regular sugar. Regular puff pastry with peaches or apricots and light brown sugar. I peeled the apricots and peaches (cut a shallow x in the bottom of them and drop in a pot of simmering water for 30 seconds for easy peeling), but you probably don’t need to. My favorite (and Frank’s) was the apricot and we thought it was better looking than the cherry. I thought of making some caramel and chocolate sauce and drizzling it on top, but the summer fruit was great and didn’t need it (keep it simple, stupid). What combination would you come up with?



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