Pie It Forward: Chocolate Fleur de Sel Caramel Tart

March 20, 2012

I vaguely remember writing about reducing added sugar a few posts ago.

Then this arrived in my mailbox.

Pie It Forward by Gesine Bullock-Prado is the perfect reason to put your sugar sacrifice on hold, at least for one dessert.
Before opening the cover of this book I should warn you that if your perception of pie is two pieces of buttery crust filled with fruit or cream prepare to broaden your horizons. Among the classic apple and berry, cookie-crusted tarts and puff pastries proudly claim their pie identity.
I am a work in progress when it comes to baking so I have no doubt that the first few chapters of this cookbook are meant for me. The dos, don’ts, and most importantly, the whys of pie making are well explained. It’s the why that I need. The “we do this so it doesn’t do that” is the kind of logic I need to better myself in any culinary undertaking, and this book has it.
It also has beautiful food photos by Tina Rupp, and recipes such as Chocolate Stout Pudding Pie, Yuzu-Ginger Rice Pudding Meringue Pie, and Gooseberry Fool Tartlets. And for all of you out there who have somehow escaped the burden of a sweet tooth, there is a section devoted to savory pies as well.

For better or worse, I was drawn to the Chocolate Fleur de Sel Caramel Tart. I say worse because it took me two tries to get a presentable dessert. First, the sides of the tart fell, second I burned the caramel.

In my defense I did rock the truffles. Oh, did I mention there are chocolate truffles on the top? Yes, just when you think caramel in a chocolate crust couldn’t get any better, along comes a truffle.

I’m still a work in progress, but I did close this adventure with a delicious, albeit slightly modified version, of this brilliant tart. The main differences you’ll see between mine and the gorgeous photo in the book is a darker caramel (I came a mere fraction of a degree from a second burning), and I had an 11-inch tart pan instead of the 8-inch the recipe calls for. Don’t be discouraged if your access to tart pans is as limited as mine, you can still make this dessert, as well as several other tasty recipes, in this book.
I probably don’t need to tell you that the combination of a chocolate cookie crust with a hint of coffee tastes amazing with a caramel filling. Or that the added bonus of a truffle on top will fulfill any chocolate craving to come your way.
Anyone attending a potluck or party with me in 2012 should most definitely expect pie. I’ve only got one recipe down, and there are so many more to go!

Chocolate Fleur de Sel Caramel Tart
From Pie It Forward by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Reprinted with permission from Abram Books

This is a sophisticated candy bar wrapped up in tart’s clothing. It features caramel that leaves ropy tendrils behind after you’ve taken a bite. And while you can use a fork, I have to tell you it’s so much easier to pick up your slice to convey it to your mandibles.

(8-inch/20-cm) tart

For the crust

Chocolate Cookie Tart Crust (recipe below)  1/2 batch

Soft Caramel Filling (recipe below) 1 batch

For the truffles

heavy cream ¾ cup; 177 ml
unsalted butter 2 tablespoons; 28 g
salt pinch
corn syrup (optional) 1 tablespoon; 15 ml
bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 8 ounces; 225 g
cocoa powder 1/4 cup; 20 g

For the assembly

large-grain fleur de sel (sea salt) 1/2 teaspoon; 2.5 g

Procedure for the crust

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line an 8-inch (20-cm) tart pan with
the dough. Dock and freeze it for 20 minutes. Line the crust with parchment, fill it with pie weights, and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment and bake the crust for 15 minutes more, or until
the bottom is golden brown and baked through. Allow it to cool.

2. Prepare the caramel filling as instructed on page 36 and pour it into the cooled crust. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Procedure for the truffles

1. In a small, heavy saucepan, simmer together the cream, butter, salt, and corn syrup, if using, making sure the butter melts completely. Take the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Allow it to sit for a few minutes undisturbed, then whisk the mixture until the glaze emulsifies and all the chocolate melts. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

2. Using a melon scoop, a teaspoon-sized cookie scoop, or a teaspoon, form small rounds of ganache and roll them into balls with your hands. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder to coat them evenly.


1. Place the truffles around the perimeter of the tart, sprinkle fleur de sel over all, and serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Cookie Tart Crust

This is a scrumptious and elegant chocolate tart dough. The key is using the right cocoa powder. You can’t go with your grocery-store variety of anemic cocoa. No, sir. I’ll know if you use it, too. You must use a high-quality, very dark cocoa: Cacao Barry or Valrhona are excellent choices. For this one, I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute. You’ll thank me later.

Makes enough dough for 2 (8-inch/20-cm) tarts,
8 (4-inch/10-cm) tarts, or 16 mini tarts

eggs 2
sweetened condensed milk  2 tablespoons; 30 ml
brewed coffee, cooled   2 tablespoons; 30 ml
all-purpose flour, cold 1 1/2 cups; 185 g
cocoa powder 1/2 cup; 40 g
sugar 3/4 cup; 150 g
instant espresso powder 1 tablespoon; 3 g
salt 1 teaspoon; 6 g
unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled ¾ cup; 180 g

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, condensed milk, and coffee.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, cocoa, sugar,
espresso powder (if using), and salt.

3. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles course cornmeal. While pulsing, add the liquid ingredients, and continue until the dough just holds together when you press it with your fingers.

4. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Form it into a flat disk, cover it completely with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Soft Caramel Filling

Makes approximately 2 cups (480 ml)

sugar 1 cup; 200 g
corn syrup 1/4 cup; 60 ml
salt 1 teaspoon; 6 g
unsalted butter 2 tablespoons; 28 g

heavy cream ⅓ cup; 75 ml
vanilla bean paste 1 teaspoon; 5 ml

1. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, ⅓ cup (75 ml) water, the corn syrup, and salt and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until the sugar has melted.

2. Brush down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush to eradicate any errant sugar crystals.

3. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium-high, and clip on a candy thermometer. Heat the sugar syrup to
245 degrees F (120 degrees C).

4. Once the syrup has reached temperature, take the pan off the heat and carefully add the butter and cream. The mixture will bubble vigorously at first. Stand back and let the hot sugar do its molten dance. When the syrup has calmed, stir until the butter has completely melted. Add the vanilla and stir again. Pour the caramel immediately into your pastry vessel (or other vessel) of choice and allow it to cool and set completely, 1 to 2 hours.

Pie It Forward day was 3/14, but you can still download Gesine’s Wild Blueberry Pie recipe and watch the video to get a few inside tips!

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  • My McDonald Meal March 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Lori- you have really done it now! Just beautiful photos and tempting recipe. Hmm…think I might have to have you over for a dinner party soon!

  • Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) March 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Your tart is really tempting and i bet it taste wonderful!

  • Candy March 21, 2012 at 4:46 am

    Gorgeous photos! This tart looks decadent and so professional. I’ve been wanting to make a pie lately and am looking forward to picking up this book if all of the recipes are as fantastic as this one.

  • Michelle March 21, 2012 at 5:03 am

    That’s one beautiful pie! Chocolate is not my thing really, but salty caramel? Yum.

  • emily (a nutritionist eats) March 21, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Oh my god. I don’t even know what to say?! Except that I want to come and help you eat it!! That is gorgeous!

  • Lori March 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Melissa – Thanks so much. I’ll bring pie! 🙂

    Sonia – It’s definitely a dangerous thing to have in the house. 🙂

    Candy – Thanks so much. You’ll find tons of great ideas in the book. I can’t wait to make more.

    Michelle – Thanks!

    Emily – And you have no idea how much help we could use. I’m trying to exercise moderation. 🙂

  • Cathleen March 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Wow. Two great desserts in one? I’m speechless, this looks delicious!

  • TasteHongKong March 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I’m sold even I don’t have a sweet tooth … look at the beautiful truffles! Your work in progress is a past tense : ).

  • Beth March 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Could you invite me to one of your parties??
    Seriously, I practically had to lay my head down after seeing the photos. It looks that good.

  • Reeni March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    That is one gorgeous and delectable tart! The truffles on top make it so elegant! My sweet tooth is raging.

  • Katerina March 23, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I think second time was a winner! This looks so delicious ans I can hardly keep my mouth from drooling!

  • Joanne March 23, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Reducing sugar intake just seems silly in the face of such deliciousness…how could anyone say no to this!!!

  • Lori March 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Cathleen – And so many variations that could become of it. 🙂

    TasteHongKong – Thanks so much!

    Beth – Absolutely!

    Reeni – Glad to hear I’m not the only one with a raging sweet tooth. 🙂

    Katerina – Thanks! Hopefully next time it will be even better!

    Joanne – I know! Crazy, right?

  • OysterCulture March 25, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Looks like a work of art, if I produced something like that I think I’d want it on display for a while. It sounds amazing and with a cup of tea, I’d be set.

  • Deb in Hawaii March 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Oh my this looks incredible–those truffles really put it over the top–along with the salty caramel of course! 😉

  • Dina March 30, 2012 at 10:01 am

    that looks so good!

  • MrsLavendula March 31, 2012 at 10:07 am

    looks so good im craving for sweets in the middle of the night!

  • Anonymous October 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I have the book and have made this pie as well. It is a show stopper and easy to make. I noticed your caramel recipe calls for 3/4 cup of corn syrup, whereas Gisene’s book say 1/4 cup. Did you increase it because of your tart pan size or is it a typo? I actually added more vanilla bean paste than her recipe calls for, which is just a personal preference.

  • Lori October 22, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Hi there – Oh goodness! That is a typo. I appreciate your comment, and I made the correction. I must have been looking at the heavy cream in the truffles when I was typing it. I’m glad to hear you had success with it! I found it delicious. Great idea on the vanilla.

  • Treeky February 5, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Hi, I notice that your truffles look different from Miss Gesine’s. I’d say that’s because you didn’t use Dutch-processed cocoa, which treats the beans with alkaline for a less bitter taste. It also makes the cocoa darker and slightly more red.
    Otherwise, thanks for the tips!!