My Absolute Favorite Dessert. Ever. So far.: Chocolate Caramel Hazelnut Tart

I recently discovered a dessert that may have replaced brownies in slot number one of my favorite desserts. It has chocolate, lots of gooey caramel, and whole, toasted hazelnuts. It is absolutely one of the best tasting desserts I’ve had in my life, hands down one of the loveliest to look at, and easy peasy to boot.

I’ll stop now to acknowledge the abundance of caramel on my blog in recent weeks. I’d like to say that I’m sorry, but I just can’t.

I cannot be sorry for caramel.

It’s one of the most spectacular things in existence and there is no excuse for an apology.

Aside from that fact, though, I also just learned how to make it, and since then I can’t get enough. I’ve always been a caramel freak, but now that I know how flippin’ simple it is to whip up, I always have some on hand. But you’re not complaining, are you?

I didn’t think so…

This tart was so completely irresistible to me that I ate half of it by myself. You heard me right. Half. And it was so wonderful that I don’t even feel guilty about it.

The only reason I didn’t eat the entire thing is because the Hubster made me share.

Whatever.

This was like a drug for me. I could feel it in the kitchen, pulling at me…calling my name. And I answered the call.

I’m going to have to resist making this very often, or I’ll end up in a sugar coma.

A deep, blissful sugar coma.

Now, here’s the lowdown on this dessert. It has hazelnuts, and they need to be toasted and skinned, so you should really be forewarned:

Skinning hazelnuts is a bitch. Seriously, it’s, like, really annoying. It’s not hard, just tedious, but it’s absolutely worth it, to make this tart. Pre-toasted, skinned hazelnuts are available for purchase if you’re pressed for time, but the general consensus seems to be that the flavor is better when you roast and skin them yourself.

To do so, spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes before skinning them. Most people will recommend placing the hazelnuts on a towel, pulling the corners together and rubbing the sides together vigorously for quite awhile, until the majority of the skins have been removed. this has never worked for me. Ever. There is another method that I’ve never tried that involves boiling the nuts, which supposedly causes all of the skins to more or less fall away and apparently is more thorough. I intend to try this out sometime, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

As it is, I actually skin my hazelnuts individually. I know this sounds insane, but honestly, it doesn’t take any longer than the towel method and it’s slightly more thorough. The majority of the skins just crumble off…some of the hazelnuts quite literally jump out of their skins (these are the fun hazelnuts that I love). Meanwhile, a few will stay steadfastly wrapped in their skins. Don’t worry about it if you don’t get every single bit of skin from every last nut – just do the best you can. Set the nuts aside, until ready to use, while you make the dough for the tart crust.

To make the crust, you’ll need unsalted butter (at room temperature), sugar, an egg yolk, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, ad salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until creamy; scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the egg yolk. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the bowl and turn the mixer on to low. Mix until the dough just comes together and is a uniform brown color. If needed, mix lightly by hand to get rid of any butter or flour clumps. Chill for 15 minutes.

Press the chilled dough into a nine inch tart pan. It’s easiest when you use the heel of your hand to spread the dough out, then press it into the corners and up the sides with your thumbs. Try to get the dough as evenly spread out as you can. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake the chilled tart for 30 minutes. *Remember, if you have a tart pan with a removable bottom, when handling the tart, hold it by the sides of the pan. Allow the tart shell to cool completely before filling.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling. To make the caramel, you need water, sugar, corn syrup, butter, heavy cream, and salt. Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan set over medium heat and stir once to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it reaches a light honey color (7-8 minutes, but this can vary greatly depending on your stove); remove from heat. Very carefully, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Next, slowly pour the cream into the mixture, being very careful (the mixture will expand rapidly and sputter). If there are any clumps in your caramel, place the pan over low heat and stir until the clumps melt.

Stir in the prepared hazelnuts and cook the mixture gently over medium heat until the caramel deepens slightly in color (a dark honey color), about two or three minutes. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the caramel is bubbling. Place the tart on a wire cooling rack and cool completely before decorating or serving.

Adding some semi-sweet chocolate decorations to this makes it look so lovely and elegant. You can simply drizzle melted chocolate over the top, or you can use a piping bag and writing tip to add curlicues and other designs. The design I chose to do is like a reverse shell border, but since the chocolate line is so thin, it’s just pretty swirls.

For a little something extra, I also put tiny chocolate hearts in the open spaces, as well as all the way around the crust.

Isn’t this such a pretty dessert? It looks so elegant sitting amongst all your favorite holiday foods too. It’s the kind of dessert that you can make in no time at all, take to a holiday celebration, and everyone will be supremely impressed at your skill and dedication, even though you only spent a little time on it (not to mention how they’ll rave over its yumminess).

And didn’t I say it had gooey caramel? It holds together perfectly for cutting and serving, but isn’t hard or chewy at all. It’s smooth, creamy, and perfect. This picture makes me want to go make another one. I can’t even express how delicious I think this tart is.

With the exception of skinning those damned hazelnuts, this is an incredibly fast, easy dessert. Preparation and assembly only take a total of about 25 minutes, plus a 30 minute chill, and about 40 minutes total of cooking/baking (mostly hands off). You could easily have this cooling from the oven in two to two and a half hours.

Another benefit to this recipe is that each component can be made ahead of time. I toasted the hazelnuts on day one, made and baked the tart shell on day two, and made the caramel and baked the tart on day three. Plus, this is still very delicious on the second day, so you could make this the day before you plan to serve it to save even more time.

Then there’s this:

Hazelnut whipped cream (made with just the lightest touch of hazelnut liqeuer) makes this absolute perfection. And if you’re as obsessed with caramel as I am, I highly recommend drizzling more over the top.

We served this over a period of three days, and it was just as wonderful on the third day as the first. It’s not too deeply chocolaty and the whipped cream lightens everything wonderfully. If you’re a hazelnut lover, like me, this is absolutely a must-try. Enjoy!

Chocolate Caramel Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Whipped Cream
Author: 
Serves: 1 9-inch tart
 
Inspired by The Art and Soul of Baking, crust adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking, filling and whipped cream by Darla
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CRUST
  • ½ cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup (127 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2½ tablespoons (18 grams) cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • FOR THE FILLING
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (63 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 4 pieces
  • ½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (directions above)
  • 1½ ounces semi-sweet chocolate (for decorating
  • FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons (38 grams) sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons (5 to 10 ml) hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico or Kahlua)
Instructions
  1. To make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until creamy; scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the egg yolk. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the bowl and turn the mixer on to low.mix until the dough just comes together and is a uniform brown color. If needed, mix lightly by hand to get rid of any butter or flour clumps. Chill for 15 minutes.
  3. Once chilled, press the dough into a nine inch tart pan. It's easiest when you use the heel of your hand to spread the dough out, then press it into the corners and up the sides with your thumbs. Try to get the dough as evenly spread out as you can. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C).
  5. Bake the chilled tart for 30 minutes. *Remember, if you have a tart pan with a removable bottom, when handling the tart, hold it by the sides of the pan. Allow the tart shell to cool completely before filling.
  6. To make the filling: Make the caramel- Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan set over medium heat and stir once to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it reaches a light honey color (7-8 minutes, but this can vary greatly depending on your stove); remove from heat. Stir in the salt. Very carefully, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Next, slowly pour the cream into the mixture, being very careful (the mixture will expand rapidly and sputter). If there are any clumps in your caramel, place the pan over low heat and stir until the clumps melt. Stir in the prepared hazelnuts and cook the mixture gently over medium heat until the caramel deepens slightly in color (a dark honey color), about two or three minutes.
  7. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake (at 350 degrees) for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the caramel is bubbling. Place the tart on a wire cooling rack and cool completely before decorating or serving.
  8. To make the whipped cream: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium high speed until it starts to thicken. Reduce speed to low and sprinkle the sugar into the cream. Return mixer to medium high and continue whipping until firm peaks form. Stir in liqeuer. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Inspired by The Art and Soul of Baking, crust adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking, filling and whipped cream by Darla

 

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Comments

  1. Nevr_norml_123 says

    we learned an easy way to remove skin from nuts in pastry school. roast the nuts, pour then in a colander and rub the hazelnuts around with a paper towel. the skins fall through the holes in the colander. its super easy to remove the skin from any nut that requires skin removal. btw this tart looks awesome…I think I want to make it.

  2. Kate says

    In the wise words of 'Glee', sweet grilled cheesuz. Hazelnuts, check. Chocolate, check. Caramel, check. Yup, all the requisite items are there to make the best possible desert in the world.

  3. Maria says

    WOW this looks amazing! And that piping is so beautiful! Just as neat on the bottom as it is on the top. :)
    But… caramel. I'm SO afraid of making caramel. Not only is it hard to make, but I'm sure I'd spill/splatter on myself (or someone else). Maybe one day when I muster up the courage, I'll try to make this.

  4. kj says

    Ohh, WANT! I gave up sugar a while ago, and I'm still trying to avoid it as much as possible, but that tart would certainly break my resolve…that caramel just oozes so seductively, and the hazelnuts look like pearls!

  5. Gala Hallelujah says

    I made this for christmas and it was absolutely exceptional! The textures were fab, it wasnt too sweet but was completely rich, stored well and just had the all around awesomeness of being like a grown up snickers bar!
    I hadn't made caramel with corn syrup before, its hard to get in australia and isnt a common item in our cooking, but it was well worth the search. The end texture and flavour of the caramel was beautiful, and i felt like the corn syrup stopped it from burning or sticking on the stove.
    I expect i will make this many times more and with different nuts.
    Thanks so much!!

  6. says

    I reallyreally would love to try this, maybe even tomorrow…i have the urge! but being in the UK i cant get my mitts on corn syrup sadly. Would liquid glucose or golden syrup be a substitution do you know? or is there anything else i could sub in? Thank you for this lovely recipe and i hope to make it sooner rather than later! :)

    (if its easier you could comment back on my blog or email at sasha.sebright@hotmail.com. Thank you again :) )

    • says

      I think you can replace the corn syrup with golden syrup. I’ve never tried it with this recipe, but I have replaced golden syrup with corn syrup in other recipes, so I’m sure it would work for you. :)

  7. Laura says

    This recipe is absolutely amazing! If you’re thinking about trying it, DO. The hardest part is the hazelnuts, but, Darla gave you fair warning on those. :) Once you get past that, the rest is easy peasy.

    The only thing I changed on this recipe was my pan. I didn’t have a tart pan so I first used my torte pan making a double dose of the crust only, which leaked caramely sauce allllll over the pan I placed the shell on to bake it, and it was a bear to get onto my cake platter. It didn’t look pretty but it was delish, all the same. The second time I did it (yes, twice now!) I used a throw-away pie tin.

    Great recipe, Darla! <3

  8. says

    OMG! This tart is exceptional! Thank you Darla for sharing this recipe. I made it for a few friends and it was a massive hit. It is so easy to make and sooo delicious. I have always been a bit afraid of caramel but it worked a treat thanks to your excellent explanations. I couldn’t find corn syrup in Australia so I replaced it by a tiny bit of cream of tartar (to avoid crystalisation). And I was lucky enough to find pre-roasted and peeled hazelnuts. I replaced the extra caramel sauce by melted 70% cocoa chocolate. A delight!

  9. Marlene J says

    I wanted to add a cautionary note on this recipe. I had a wonderful supply of hazelnuts from a trip to Turkey, so I was excited to try this recipe. I have read enough about making caramel to know that it is very tricky, but thought perhaps the corn syrup addition would make it simpler. And the recipe seemed to have detailed directions and photos – although none during the cooking of the caramel. (Which is understandable given you’re actively cooking!) I’m an experienced cook and baker and followed the recipe exactly, both in directions and ingredients — and my caramel was a disaster. When I added the butter it seized, and turned into stiff clumps and also made a solid shell coating the bottom of the pan. I’m assuming my error was in boiling the water/sugar/corn syrup mixture too long, but there was no time range given, and it had just turned the color described in the recipe. Adding the cream help some but it still had solid hard lumps in it. I certainly didn’t want to go further an trying baking it, because i suspected it would be a complete waste of my hazelnuts. It sounds as if others have had success with the recipe, but I felt it was important to share my experience. Now, I just need to figure out some other filing – perhaps a vanilla cream – that would be good in my chocolate shell:)

  10. Andrew says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I made this for my wife for Valentine’s Day, and it came out great! My wife said she wanted even more caramel…not that it needed it. ;) Thanks again!

  11. Marlene J says

    Well, I see the comment I left providing a little caution on how tricky this recipe really is because you’re making “from scratch” caramel didn’t ever get approved. I wrote it to provide what I think is still helpful information – but apparently you’re more interested in having only rave reviews from people, some of whom had never tried the recipe. Your photos are lovely, and I’m sure many of your recipes are excellent – but this one caused problems for me – a very experienced cook who followed the directions, ingredients and measurements exactly. And wasted a lot of butter and and other ingredients making the crust and my attempt at the caramel. Luckily, I didn’t waste my expensive hazelnuts as well. I suppose you’re angling for a cookbook offer or other way to monetize the blog, so of course, you can’t approve any comments that hint at an issues with your recipes.

    • says

      Three points to address: First, I can’t approve every single comment every single day as soon as I get them, and there are times when I have to go weeks without an opportunity to clear all of these comments. It’s not ideal, but this is my hobby, and if I’m busy with life, sometimes these comments have to wait. I currently have over 1,000 comments, some of which are spam that didn’t get removed, to sort through.

      Secondly, what you’re unaware of is that I have a spam filter, and many times, new comments from people who have never commented on my blog before will get shunted to the spam folder. As I get literally thousands of spam comments in just a day or two, it’s quite impossible for me to sort them individually, and I often miss sincere comments in batch edits. In addition to the pending comments, I have over two thousand spam comments that need my attention, so I’m sure you can understand why it might take some time to moderate all of them.

      Lastly, I have no desire for “a cookbook offer or other way to monetize the blog”. Monetizing, first of all, has nothing to do with comments, positive or negative. Do your homework before making hateful accusations. Furthermore, I could care less about a cookbook. I have been writing this blog for over five years, because I love it. That’s good enough for me. (And on that note, you’ll notice, if you take the time to bother looking, that this recipe was adapted from/inspired by a cookbook, so obviously, it’s not like I’d throw it into a new cookbook…what do I care if people only say good things about it?) I find it extremely sad that your first assumption isn’t an honest mistake, but instead that your comment was intentionally ignored for greedy or prideful reasons. That’s on you.

      If you’d taken the time to check other recipes, you would see that I have absolutely no problem posting constructive criticism. If you were concerned that I had chosen to ignore your comment, it would have been nice to have received an email addressing the issue. I am not ashamed of any comment that is helpful, even if it’s not a glowing review. It’s unfair to judge someone you don’t know on an assumption that you could have cleared up through personal contact with me.

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