Chocolate-Caramel Tartlets

Chocolate-Caramels Tartlets

People often ask me, after taking a bite of a caramel in Paris: Why can’t they can’t get caramels that taste like that in America? Like bread – those kinds of wonderful foods are, indeed, available, but you need to know where to look. A while back I was in Los Angeles and a magazine had mentioned Little Flower Candy Company’s caramels. So I ran to a store in Silverlake that sold them, and they were really excellent. They could rival anything in Paris, In fact, they were better than quite a few caramels I’ve had around here. And I’ve had quite a few.

caramel for tarts

I think I even wrote Christine Moore, who made the caramels, a fan letter after trying them and we kept in touch every so often. At one point, she even offered to send me some caramels. But the vagaries of overseas shipping made me decline. (I recently was called by the UPS shipping company while I was at home telling me that – in fact – I was not at home.) Through the grapevine, and through our scattered communiqués, I learned that Christine had to stop making her wonderful caramels after she lost her lease. And I was not sure what happened to her afterward.

rice flour caramel
ganachetartlet dough

I guess I am a slow learner because I found out that her business blossomed again as Little Flower Café in Los Angeles, making not just candies, but salads, sandwiches, soups, and pastries. And, of course, those lovely caramels were back, too. (Her marshmallows are no slouch either!) I got my hands on her charming book, Little Flower: Recipes from the Café, and not only did it tell the whole story of how she overcame some obstacles when life bonked her with a few curveballs, but was full of sixty or so of her most popular recipes, which make it pretty clear she is now thriving as a successful café owner.

Chocolate-Caramels Tartlets

Although I don’t get back to Los Angeles often enough, I am sure that’s probably a good thing because I would be stuffing myself with those caramels more often than I should. (Although according to that shipping company, perhaps I could be there, but without actually being there?) However when I was flipping through her book, the recipe for Thumbprint Chocolate Caramel Tartlets caught my eye. Here, my two favorite ingredients – chocolate and caramel – come together in bite-size little treats that are small enough so that you can eat a couple, without feeling guilty, but they’re so tasty that you’re completely satisfied after you’ve had one or two.

cocoa powder chocolate tartlet dough

However I can’t lie and will say that the last sentence I wrote isn’t entirely honest. Because after I made the two dozen that the recipe called for, I packed them up to give to my other half to bring to work for his co-workers. As they sat in his car and he was about to pull away from the curb, and I stood in my kitchen, alone – without any tartlets, I ran out, saying that I changed my mind, and that I needed a few more.

Chocolate-Caramels Tartlets

And no, I didn’t feel guilty about that, either.

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
Makes 24 tartlets

Adapted from Little Flower: Recipes from the Café by Christine Moore

Christine uses some rice flour in the dough, to make them a little crisper, but said that you could use all-purpose flour if that’s what you have. Rice flour is available in Asian markets and natural food stores, and I made the mistake in my local store in Paris of getting a rice powder that was baby food (crème de riz), rather than farine de riz.

Because she makes these in her café, she uses her tasty caramels. You can order them through the Little Flower Candy Company website, or use homemade or store-bought soft caramels.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time getting fussy, making sure each little tartlet dough is absolutely perfect. Press them into the pan and get the edges reasonably even, but don’t worry too much about perfection as the little tartlets – and any imperfections – will get swept under by a swipe of dark chocolate ganache.

For salt, I use fleur de sel, which has a light, delicate flavor. You can use any flaky sea salt to sprinkle on top.

Chocolate Dough

  • 4 ounces (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (110g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (35g) rice flour
  • (or use 1 cup, 140g, all-purpose flour, total)
  • 6 tablespoons (50g) cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process

Salted Caramel Filling

4 ounces (115g) soft, salted butter caramels
3 tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream


4 1/2 ounces (130g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (90ml) heavy cream
flaky sea salt

1. To make the tartlet dough, beat the butter and the sugar just until smooth in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand. Add the egg, salt, and vanilla, and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, rice flour, and cocoa powder, then mix it into the creamed butter.

2. Butter the indentations of two mini-muffin tins with 12 places in each, or one mini-muffin tin with 24 places. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll each into a 3/4-inch (2cm) ball. As you work, put the dough balls in the indentations of the muffin tins. Take your thumb and press the dough down in the center of each indentation, then use your thumb to press the dough up the sides. (If the dough is sticky, dampen your thumb very lightly with water or oil.) Freeze the pans of dough for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

4. Bake the tartlet shells for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough appear dry and cooked. Remove from oven and use the handle of a wooden spoon to widen and smooth the inside of the little tartlet shells, pressing the dough that’s puffed up somewhat firmly against the sides. Let cool completely, then remove the tartlet shells from the muffin tins – the tip of a paring knife might be needed to help aid them out – and set them on a wire cooling rack.

5. Make the caramel filling by warm the cream with the caramels in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Divide the caramel into each of the tartlet shells.

6. Make the chocolate ganache* by heating the cream in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then whisk the chocolate into the cream until the mixture is smooth.

7. Top each tartlet with some of the ganache and take a butter knife or small metal spatula and swipe off the excess. Sprinkle each tartlet with a few grains of sea salt.

*I had a bit of extra ganache left over from the original recipe, which called for “1/2 cup cream” and “1 cup (about 6 ounces) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate.” I adapted the recipe to use the chocolate by weight, and reducing the amount of ganache called for. I don’t think you’ll need more, but If you do, melt together 2 tablespoons of cream with 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate.

Chocolate-Caramels Tartlets

Related Recipes and Links

Salted Butter Caramels

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Cocoa Powder FAQs: Dutch Process and Natural Cocoa Powder

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  • sherman
    November 1, 2012 2:46pm

    Hey David, Have you heard of tau huay? Soya pudding aka soft beancurd. It’s a dessert.

  • Mary
    November 1, 2012 2:58pm

    As my mother would say – this one’s a “keeper”!! Making these soon!

  • Bebe
    November 1, 2012 3:11pm

    David, what a find. And even more so, Little Flower Candy Co. Cafe & Bakery is within easy walking distance of my parents’ house In Pasadena, California! And they have mail order:

    A roundabout way to find a treasure, I am so grateful.

    If and when you come this way, let me know and I’ll buy you a thank you cup of coffee!

  • Martina
    November 1, 2012 3:12pm

    I gave LFC sea salt caramels to my professors when I graduated college. I can’t wait to try the recipe!

  • Bebe
    November 1, 2012 3:19pm

    A review of her recipe book from the September 17, 2012, Wall Street Journal, posted at Amazon:

    Superb and simple recipes, beautifully photographed, from Little Flower Café in California. Owner Christine Moore has become nationally known for her sea salt caramels and homemade marshmallows, and her breakfast-and-lunch café in Pasadena, California is hugely popular. She shares her favorite dishes for breakfast, lunch, supper and dessert: soups, salads, tarts, quiches, bowls, sandwiches, pastries, cookies, and more. “We’re set to prepare and devour everything in it. The thought of her buttery lemon-ginger scones makes us forget we ever dismissed that baked good as dry and boring. Roasted carrot and fennel soup, quiche with leeks and Dijon mustard as well as a curried-chicken-salad sandwich with apricot chutney all have us dreaming of lunch at all hours of the day. The “Sweets” section, though, could compel us to skip normal meals altogether and live off of blood orange tart, brown butter shortbread and pumpkin bread pudding with, what else, salty caramel sauce.” — Wall Street Journal

    Can’t wait!

  • Amanda
    November 1, 2012 3:30pm

    Hi David – this might be a silly question, but if I use your recipe for salted butter caramels, can I just use that before letting it harden, without then melting them down and adding the extra 3 tbsp of cream? I hope that makes sense and thanks in advance. These look amazing, can’t wait to make them.

    • Amy
      November 4, 2012 9:21pm

      Not a silly question as I have the sane one! :-) I (as I am not sure what caramels to buy here – soft toffee? I guess it would work with spoonfuls of confiture de carsmel / dulce de leche too?).

      • November 4, 2012 10:56pm
        David Lebovitz

        I’m not really familiar with British candies, I’m afraid, and what’s considered soft toffee. I did respond earlier to a comment egarding the dulce de leche questions so check out above. Thanks!

  • Claire
    November 1, 2012 4:04pm

    Cruel, cruel man! My two favorite things on the planet and now it’s 9 am in Austin and I want chocolate and caramel! Does the caramel “set up” and become chewy or does it stay soft and “gooey”?

    I wish I had smell and taste-o-vision on my laptop.

  • November 1, 2012 4:11pm

    These are going on the Christmas to-bake list…if I can hold off that long.

  • November 1, 2012 4:22pm

    The combination of chocolate and caramel is to die for…dessert doesn’t get any better than this! I have made the Tarte Grenobloise featured in the Pierre Herme Chocolate Desserts book (Greenspan) so I can imagine how good this tastes. My only question is how does the Askinosie natural cocoa powder compare to Valrhona’s (dutched)? I ask this because Askinosie is possibly the only company (at least that I am aware of) that manufacures its powder from the same beans that it uses for its bars.

  • Jeff
    November 1, 2012 4:36pm

    For health reasons, I’m having to eliminate wheat and all gluten from my diet – what a nightmare! I’ve not done a lot of baking but I’m aware that substitutions can be tricky. Could I substitute all rice flour instead of the all-purpose flour and rice flour combination called for in the recipe?

  • November 1, 2012 4:53pm

    This had me howl with delight – you’re such a weakling, and that makes you so ‘sympa’… :)
    I didn’t read the recipe because I simply am not a baker of tiny cakes (but I DO eat them…!) but the photos are to kill for… I now crave some choco/caramel tartlets – what have you done to my will power David?

  • Jeff
    November 1, 2012 4:58pm

    Also, I detest people who correct the writing of others online but I’ll go ahead and make myself guilty. Wouldn’t it be better to say one 24 mini-muffin tin or a 24 mini-muffin tin instead of saying 24 mini-muffin tins? (24 tins would make a lot of tarts!)

  • Debbie
    November 1, 2012 5:11pm

    Hi David, I am writing from” Sandy-sacked” Jersey and am going through bakers- withdrawal. These look heavenly and inspiring, can’t wait to get my power back so I can dive in. Yummm! Thank you so much for your blog! It is certainly a bright spot in my day today!

  • Cecilia
    November 1, 2012 5:18pm

    I am making these as soon as I get power back and clean up after this hurricane. You gave me something to look forward to here in
    New Jersey A Big Thank You

  • Kristin
    November 1, 2012 5:29pm

    Oh! I wonder if these will taste as good as the ones we got in Paris this summer. Can’t wait to find out! Thanks!!

  • Nick
    November 1, 2012 5:52pm

    Oh David, what have you done now? I,ve spent a life time working on controlling my sweet tooth, and now you go and drop this recipe on us.
    I have the shopping list ready for when I don’t have the lurgy.

  • Nick
    November 1, 2012 6:00pm

    Oh and by the way, I am going to try using chestnut flour, the new season’s had just arrived at the Italian wholesaler in Frankfurt when I was there two weeks ago. It generally produces a crisper, crunchier finish than plain flour.

  • Bebe
    November 1, 2012 6:22pm

    For what it’s worth (and those who bake know what David was talking about) my mini-muffin tins are 12 each – they came in a set of two from a good cook’s supply store.

  • Bebe
    November 1, 2012 6:25pm

    To be equally obnoxious, I’ll go on to say that when one butters a muffin tin, it assumes one tin. One muffin. Multi-muffin tins were not with bakers from the beginning. In fact I seem to remember single tins that eventually were sold with racks to hold them. Before my time, but I love old cookbooks.

  • eelie
    November 1, 2012 6:47pm

    dying for a gluten free version!

  • November 1, 2012 6:51pm
    David Lebovitz

    Bebe and Jeff: Describing muffin tins is always vexing and awkward. I’ve looked at how people with cupcake books do it and those tins (and instructions!) are all over the place.

    Nick, eelie and Jeff: The chestnut flour sounds great, especially for those with gluten intolerance. I’ve not used it (although I see it used in certain recipes for Italian cakes) so sounds like a good option if you’ve baked with it before. Especially around the holidays.

    Claire: The caramel ends up looking like the tartlet in the last picture of the post. I used regular caramels, which were slightly harder than Christine’s.

    OB: Dutch process cocoa powder is usually darker and sometimes stronger in taste than natural cocoa powder. Of course, each brand varies pretty greatly. I did a post which discussed cocoa powder which I linked to, which describes some of the more general differences. When I develop recipes for my books, I usually test recipes with both to see the difference.

  • Sneha
    November 1, 2012 6:56pm

    Hi David, I live in Delhi (India) where one doesn’t get caramels across the counter. Could I substitute it with your butterscotch sauce recipe? Would it work?

  • November 1, 2012 7:24pm

    Looks amazing

  • Sara
    November 1, 2012 7:43pm

    Hola! Hello!
    this recipe is simply amazing!
    Just one question: what do you mean when you say “heavy cream”?
    Muchas Gracias!

  • Nadia
    November 1, 2012 7:54pm

    Recipe looks great. Can’t get the caramels either. Can you give an alternative. Would love to try the recipe.

  • Nick
    November 1, 2012 8:07pm

    I forgot to add for anyone who wanted to use chestnut flour for the first time, don’t buy too much. Don’t think I’ll keep that in the pantry – use it! It does go off.
    The fats in the flour go racid – not a nice flavour I’m told. Shelf life, I’m told is <6months.
    My supplier only has it from harvest till about new year or so, so its a seasonal thing too.

  • November 1, 2012 8:09pm
    David Lebovitz

    Sneha: I don’t know, but likely it would work. You can make my recipe for salted butter caramels, linked in the post, if you’d like. Am surprised you can’t get caramels!

    Nadia: In Germany, I think there are Reisen caramels? But like I advised just above, you can also make the caramel recipe that I have on the site as well.

    Sara: It’s cream that’s approximately 35% butterfat. There’s more information about heavy cream on Wikipedia.

  • November 1, 2012 8:12pm

    A local company makes the most divine caramels and a seasonal variety includes some whiskey. I have a penchant for adding booze to probably too many things and I can’t deny, these might be next on the list…caramel and bourbon and chocolate? YES! Thanks for sharing…so making these.

  • November 1, 2012 9:25pm

    I love this size for a chocolate caramel tart. Cannot wait to make these.

  • November 1, 2012 9:34pm

    Chocolate and caramel … I want that !

  • Helena
    November 1, 2012 9:40pm

    Sounds yummy – maybe a good dessert for a large crowd for Thanksgiving. Do you think they could be made ahead of time and frozen?

  • Susan
    November 1, 2012 9:43pm

    You are so gracious in the way you seem to delight in promoting your peers and other professionals in your field. This makes your blog even sweeter!

  • Joan
    November 1, 2012 9:46pm

    I’m making the recipe and baking it in a layer cake pan. Then I’ll close the blinds, brew some coffee and enjoy it as a single serving! Sounds delish.

  • Susan
    November 1, 2012 10:13pm

    Looks irresistible! Just one question: what is this “extra” ganache you speak of? I mean, you have fingers, don’t you?

  • November 1, 2012 10:46pm

    Hi, David! This recipe made my day. I haven’t even tried it yet, but I have no doubt that I’ll love it. :)

  • November 1, 2012 11:24pm

    Little Flower Cafe is my local (it’s literally the only cafe within easy walking distance of my house, and we hit it for breakfast or lunch at least twice a month). They have the most amazing lavender honey scones, and my only complaint about the cookbook is that it doesn’t include that recipe.

  • Amanda Wigley
    November 2, 2012 12:05am

    Awesome! I make a large Chocolate and Caramel tart and it’s difficult to share around unless eaten all at once. This is perfect!

  • Martha in KS
    November 2, 2012 1:13am

    I recently saw a recipe for caramels that were laced with pumpkin pie spices. So when I made caramel for dipping apple wedges to take to a Halloween party, I added some cinnamon & nutmeg. It was fabulous! You might try it in your tarts.

  • Ann
    November 2, 2012 1:25am

    Hi David,
    Claudia Flemming has a recipe in her book ‘The Last Course’ for a chocolate caramel tart that looks quite similar to the tarts you show here. I’ve made them again and again and they are always a show stopper. Martha Stewart published the recipe.
    You are the BEST and most fun. I love reading your Twitter and email posts.

  • Jessika
    November 2, 2012 1:28am

    I will have to make my own caramels since what’s available is usually very sweet, salt absent. The horror of standing at the stove making candy :). Or order some fleur de sel caramels online. Or go into experimentation with caramel candy that’s available.

  • November 2, 2012 3:15am

    David, your story about recalling tartlets from the curb reminded me of an intern I had one summer. I made a batch of financiers and asked if he wanted to take some home. he said yes and as i got ready to pack them up he ever so politely said “the plastic wrap is so not necessary, those guys won’t even make it to the corner.”

  • November 2, 2012 3:44am

    Looks delicious! I would so love to try some. I am sure it tastes amazing.

  • Jennie B.
    November 2, 2012 4:25am

    OMG, these look unbelievable. As if they could jump out of my screen. Bravo, David. Yet another delectable something or another that is utterly drool worthy.

  • November 2, 2012 5:58am

    These are straight up perfection. Pretty sure if these were in front of my I’d chow down on the whole batch – I love chocolate and caramel together!

  • November 2, 2012 6:12am

    ooo these are juuust lovely. oh yes, i think i’ll make these.

  • November 2, 2012 7:13am


  • November 2, 2012 8:05am

    These tartlets look so delicious! I will definitely be trying this recipe, bookmarking it. The photos are amazing. I wish I had more free time this November to make these right away.

  • nic miller
    November 2, 2012 10:39am

    Would you substitute Dulce Di Leche for the caramel, David? I have easy access to Breton salted caramels but have a jar of Dulce lying in the fridge….

  • nic miller
    November 2, 2012 10:51am

    Having read in your newsletter about the high prices of imported US foods, try shopping from based in England. Their shipping is pretty reasonable and the prices not too bad either.

  • Oonagh
    November 2, 2012 11:30am

    I wish I worked with your other half…!

  • November 2, 2012 1:04pm

    David, I too usually give half of my baked goods to my partners office and then always think, shoot I should’ve kept more. These look yummy and so easy to make.

    Bon Appetit!

  • November 2, 2012 4:06pm
    David Lebovitz

    I deleted a comment earlier (and I rarely delete comments), but then thinking about it, I wanted to respond to it:

    “sorry to rain on the parade: perfect pâtisserie should not only taste good but also LOOK good. these look terribly sloppy, homemade, housewifey! (from Oliver)

    Dear Oliver: Thank you for your message. I made this recipe from a book about a café and the picture that accompanied the recipe, in the book, was as you would say, “homemade.” Perhaps that was meant to be a swipe at me, or them, but I’ve been looking at a lot of food pictures on Pinterest lately and so many of them are technically lovely – cakes on stands with flowers, or beautiful, perfect cake servers alongside. Or stacked up brownies, each one with perfect right angles on every corner..and not a crumb in sight. And while I very much appreciate the work that goes in to the photos, they often don’t make me want to eat whatever it is that has been photographed. (Which arguably, may be just me. And perhaps I’m also a little jealous because I don’t have the skills to do photos like that.)

    For this particular recipe, and the accompanying pictures (as well as for other pictures on the site), I actually prefer to show things that aren’t perfect. Sometimes they may look “sloppy” or “homemade” – but I would venture to guess that a majority of people who cook at home turn out food that doesn’t look perfect. True, I could have spent quite a bit more time making sure the edges were pefect, or at least better – or did some creative editing with Photoshop to straighten everything up. But one of the things that appealed to me about the recipe, and this book, is that the food is meant to be casual and approachable. It’s not Pierre Hermé or Jacques Genin (who uses a microplane zester to get his tart shells amazingly even.) I made these pretty quickly and wanted to share them with readers because they don’t take a long time to put together – and they taste great.

    I’ve worked in some pretty good restaurants, gone to a few professional pastry schools, and have turned out all sorts of food in my life. And to me, the most important thing is this: How it tastes. I don’t really care if the shell is uneven or there is a bit of stray cream spilling out. When I learned to make pie dough from my friend’s Norwegian grandmother, she said to me, “If the dough doesn’t fall apart, it won’t taste good.” And I still remember her words today.

    These are “thumbprint” tarts, something perhaps uniquely American, that are meant to be made without a lot of fuss. I like drips of chocolate, salt scattered irregularly, perhaps even some crumbs and splashs of caramel here and there. Because that’s cooking. (And I like when I get an knobbly baguette from my local bakery, rather than a picture-perfect one, because I know it is handmade.) On this blog, I like to feature the process of baking and preparing food, and fresh ingredients, and I want the recipes approachable to a wide variety of people – including stay-at-home dads, students, home bakers, and housewives.

  • Lisa
    November 2, 2012 4:24pm

    and that is why we love you.

  • Pamela
    November 2, 2012 4:25pm

    I don’t think Mr. Lebovitz needs to defend himself on his own blog. You need to justify yourself to no one! But in my own response to “that” comment:

    Who said anything about perfect? Mr. Lebovitz certainly said nothing about that in his post – rather, the name “thumbprint” should have alerted you to the fact that they are supposed to be rough. If you don’t like it, don’t make them. If you don’t like the look of them, no one is forcing you to read the site.

    Never mind the those folks, Mr Lebovitz…

  • Pam
    November 2, 2012 4:41pm

    The tarts look yummy! I like pictures of
    recipes to look like the average edible product,
    not artificial.
    And being a housewife I don’t appreciate my
    profession used as an adjective to slam someone.
    David has one of the most fun positive and
    real blogs out there. xxoo David.

  • November 2, 2012 4:43pm

    Since when is “homemade” a pejorative? And what does “housewifey” mean? Oliver, I don’t know anything about you. Maybe you didn’t have a good relationship with your own mother – and maybe you have never met a person whose kitchen is a fabulous, warm place to spend time, chat and nibble at the goodies coming out of the oven. But if that’s the case it’s your loss and I’d be glad to help you see the light. So come on over.

  • Susie
    November 2, 2012 4:46pm

    Bravo David.

  • November 2, 2012 4:52pm

    well, in my mind, “look terribly sloppy, homemade, housewifey” isn’t necessarily incompatible with “look good”, as far as pastries are concerned, and these tartlets definitely look good to me, and i bet they taste great too.

  • November 2, 2012 5:01pm


    I think you’ll find this blog post by Brian Ferry regarding food photography interesting.

    just passing along a good read (and great photography. I really enjoy looking through his blog)

  • Meri
    November 2, 2012 5:09pm

    Well said, David.

    Why would anyone hold homemade pastries to such a standard? Unless they’re going in a window display or some kind of competition, I absolutely agree that the only thing that matters is how they taste. This sort of approach is what scares off a lot of people from cooking and baking, which is really unfortunate.

    The only thing that’s keeping me from making tartlets is that I can’t get good caramels where I live, and making candy terrifies me.

  • Leslie
    November 2, 2012 5:26pm

    Laura’s reply made me wish I had more photos of my Mom’s messy homemade raisin tarts and crooked Swedish butter “S” cookies. David, your food photos are art. Not all art is for everyone. Your perspective is so welcoming to those of us far from your lifestyle. Never stop!

  • Giada
    November 2, 2012 5:46pm

    Very recently, I baked some brownies and – given that I was going to offer them to my colleagues at work – I wanted to cut them really nicely with straight edges and all that, but, even though I took extreme care, some of the squares crumbled or didn’t turn out just how I wanted them to be… then I decided I didn’t care! The truth is, if there weren’t around so many pictures of perfectly cut brownies around I wouldn’t be so frustated that mine aren’t and – very probably – the brownies in the said pictures aren’t perfect either … they’re just taken at a good angle or with the right light… Not only the media shows me perfect looking women and make me wish I could be slimmer now even my cakes are not up to their standards! :D Suddendly the whole thing looked so absurd and at work no one really analysed my brownies very long before gobbling them down ;)
    So… thank you David for always being true and honest and making me feel better about my far-from-perfect-but-still-very-good desserts!

  • November 2, 2012 5:54pm

    There’s a good joke here somewhere about feeding the trolls, but I don’t quite have it :) And besides, trolls don’t deserve something as awesome as these tarts. I love your blog and I’m glad you responded to this. Also, poor fellow thinks that “housewifey” is an insult? I’m a pretty happy housewife and I churn out three good meals a day plus everything in between, every day and it might not always be beautiful but it tastes amazing. He would be so lucky.

  • Beverly
    November 2, 2012 6:03pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe, it looks amazing and I’m dying to run to my local cafe which sells LIttle Flower caramels and the cookbook.

    I’ll be in Paris in 2 weeks and I’m armed with the Paris Pastry App and a dogeared copy of My Sweet Life in Paris. I’ve rented an apartment on the border of the 7th and 15th districts within walking distance to La Poilane!!

    Many thoughts about tracking you down in Paris have crossed my mind. Just follow a trail of aluminum foil sprinkled with Rice Krispy cereal boxes, French Onion Soup mix and Little Flower caramels.

    As always, I love duplicating your recipes in my own kitchen. The only one that didn’t work was the Caramel corn. The Chocolate Macarons & Matzoh Toffee Crunch are my go to recipes.

    Thank you for continually inspiring me and countless others with your charm and quest for all things delicious.

  • November 2, 2012 6:38pm

    Lovely photographs, as always. It’s nice that you took so much time to respond to Oliver, although his negative words shouldn’t be given so much of your positive time. I feel that more and more food bloggers these days are trying to one-up each other with the perfect photos. I prefer to see crumbs, spills, and odd edges – real life. Perfection is overrated.

    • November 2, 2012 6:45pm
      David Lebovitz

      After I unpubished the original comment, I thought about it for a while, and thought I would respond. I’ve been looking at all the stunning food photography on Pinterest, but something about it leaves me cold. I do really admire people that produce those images (and I am also happy to be part of a food blogging community where there are lots of different types of people doing different things, and we all respect each other.) But what I like about blogging and the blogs that I read, is that they have personality. Some have great photos, and others – well, they’re okay. But to me, the photos are more about the story of the recipe, not necessarily meant to be pretty. The picture of the tartlets in the metal container (in the post) was taken when I made my partner bring back the tartlets, and I liked the way they looked at that moment, so I snapped a picture. It’s not a perfect picture. But it was happening at the moment and part of the story.

    • nic miller
      November 2, 2012 7:04pm

      The lone dissenter should see the banana and nut cake I’ve just made- no oil painting but it tastes good if I can say so myself.

      Rock on David!

  • Helena Spurr
    November 2, 2012 7:04pm

    David, anyone who enjoys eating and cooking good food knows that the only important thing is the quality of the ingredients used and its taste.
    When presented with perfect looking food I always worry that it is masking something wrong. I doubt that “Oliver” only eats food that looks perfect and is tasty!
    I am sorry that you had to explain yourself about such a stupid comment.
    Thank you for your continuing hard work and inspiration.

  • November 2, 2012 8:13pm

    These look like little bites of heaven!

  • villy
    November 2, 2012 8:35pm

    I am too sick and exhausted to be polite about this twat Oliver, but what I will say is that when I can muster up the energy to roll out of bed, wade through the mounds of used tissues (that’s disgusting, I know) and mentally prepare myself to enter a supermarket, I am going to buy some rice flour and get this little tart party started.

    In other news: David, have you been to Napoli? I went there last week, and, good lord, THE FOOD! I had heard rumours, but I just didn’t quite understand the legend. Amazing pizza, fresh seafood, blah blah blah. If you have been there, have you been to Scaturchio and had a fresh sfogliatelle… still warm from the oven? I’ll admit, I wept a little into my espresso. I live here in Bologna which has a rather decent standard of food and I have had le sfogliatelle before, but I seriously had no idea.

    I would love to attempt a recipe, but quite frankly I am too lazy. Is there a cheat’s version?

  • November 2, 2012 8:42pm

    I run into similar issues with wedding cakes. When I take care to explain that I can’t Photoshop a real cake, and besides, there probably isn’t even a real cake inside the icing, brides look crestfallen, as though they’ve been duped. And in a sense, they have – all they had to do was buy the magazine, right?. But I further explain that their cake will be “real” from the inside out, and will look like their very own cake.

    As for the reader’s comment about your photos looking homemade and housewifey, while I do live in a house, one in which I do bake, though and no one’s wife, one of the aspects of your writing AND photography is that you never talk down to anyone. Your posts and books have a wonderful “I-can-do-this-ness” to them, which is a high achievement.

    And the reminder not to feed the troll is a good one, especially anything this good.

  • Kathleen
    November 2, 2012 10:27pm

    Ever since there was a television competition for food photography I’ve realized that those picture perfect dishes are just that – pictures!

    Perhaps it’s your realistic photography that makes me think that anything is do-able.
    (Except for that meat that looked like a melon. I have never figured that out and not sure I want to.)

  • November 2, 2012 11:21pm

    As a new blogger in the food niche, I am always on the lookout for someone to learn from and new recipes to try. I was most fascinated by your potato and bleu cheese pizza. What a unique combination of flavors. I can’t wait to try it.

  • hng23
    November 2, 2012 11:27pm

    Is it possible to sub in dulce de leche for the caramel? And if so, would it still need to be heated with the cream? I’m looking forward to making these little babies, since I just bought 2 mini-cupcake tins.

  • Tonight from Helsinki
    November 3, 2012 12:02am

    As the cool pop-up restaurant owner Miss Marmite from London once said, and I agree with her, the food stylist’s cookbooks are no good. Nice pics but no substance beyond.

    David takes really good photos. Have you seen what people post on Facebook of their food, children, holidays, pets, parties? It was one of the reason I closed my account; I just couldn’t spend my life looking at and “like”ing such rubbish. David’s photos are real and they make you taste the food in your mouth. Most cookbooks’ and websites’ photos are so manicured the food feels sterile, plastic and soulless.

    So, dear Oliver, piss off and go find something else to do, while I look at the photos and dribble all over my Macbook Pro.

    PS Has anyone noticed how most foodbloggers’ photos look the same? The uniformity is so boring: they take a photo from above, then from the side, then again from the side but this time from a different angle, then a close-up of one or two items on the plate. I am also bored with napkins that they always put underneath a plate, a piece of bread, etc. No personality, no originality, just a load of copycats. And don’t get me started on the comments people leave on foodblogs. It appears that a big portion of the worldwide population is retarded and cannot use their brains for anything more than stating the obvious: “Looks delicious!”, “Yum”, “Yummy” being in the top 10.
    David’s photos are very good, original and he keeps it real and the writing is excellent. The conversation he inspires on this blog is inspiring and mature.

    PPS Pinterest is for masochists. Don’t go there unless you are ready to be seriously wounded and trodden down. My own photos have been pinterested (???) by other people but I don’t go there any more because it’s it hasn’t got a healthy energy about it. Just my opinion. It’s midnight and I am going to go to bed now. Night-night.

  • millie
    November 3, 2012 12:37am

    What would I do because I can’t find any salted butter caramels ?
    Do you have any idea ?

  • shari
    November 3, 2012 3:16am

    Uh….yeah. This recipe is now next on my very long list of yummy caramel and chocolate things to make. I must admit however, that I just pulled “Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies” out of the oven approximately 30 minutes ago, so I am certainly not feeling deprived or jealous at this time. This is the first time I’ve made the brownies from your cookbook Ready For Dessert, and they look exactly like the photo, -maybe even prettier if that’s even possible. I stole a small chunk from the corner while still warm and must agree that it is the absolute best brownie I’ve ever made.

  • shari
    November 3, 2012 3:26am

    I was reading through the comments and came across a response to “the critic of the day”, and am saddened that someone would have to “rain on your parade” just because they weren’t feeling very good about themselves today. Recently I heard someone say “10 percent of people will never like you, so concentrate on the other 90 percent.

  • Julia
    November 3, 2012 4:57am

    One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

    Or perhaps I should say, one man’s homemade (uttered disparagingly) is another’s marketing campaign?

    Driving to work today I passed a billboard for a nationally known (and mediocre) U.S. restaurant chain shamelessly trumpeting its homemade food. (Um, exactly how is food produced at a central warehouse – and trucked, frozen, to each store for re-heating, designed to demonstrate consistency in texture from store to store rather than flavor – able to qualify as “home made?”) Yet here we have Oliver dismissing homemade as if homemade is equivalent to “can’t possibly be good,” “unprofessional,” etc.

    Isn’t it funny-strange that the word cuts both ways? I always thought homemade was the equivalent of mouth-watering goodness. How can that be bad?

  • Kirsten
    November 3, 2012 7:52am

    I love this combination. If I want to make your caramels instead of buying them, should I make them all the way through, cool them down, and then remelt them with the cream as in this recipe? Or would it be possible to skip a step by cooking the sugar syrup/cream mixture to a lower temperature so it’s still liquid rather than a soft caramel candy, and just spoon it into the tartlet shells? (Am I making sense?) Thanks!

  • beth
    November 3, 2012 9:16am

    I honestly think the look of these amazing little tartlets is absolutely beautiful! looks real, rustic even, and absolutely delicious!!

  • November 3, 2012 9:56am
    David Lebovitz

    Kirsten + hng23: I don’t really know since I haven’t tried it. I would think that any semi-liquid caramel would work as a filling (with or without cream), such as dulce de leche. The texture was just right with the recipe as written so you might need to “wing it” a bit to get the texture to your liking.

    millie: I don’t know where you are, but you can use the recipe that I linked to at the end of the post to make salted butter caramels at home. You can also check out my post, How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned on the Site, to find them (perhaps!) in your area. Most supermarkets sell some kind of caramel candy, and you can simply add a bit of salt to them, when melting.

    Trysha: Thanks for that link. It’s kind of how I feel, too.

    Cynthia: I had a good friend who had a bakery in San Francisco and folks used to bring in pictures from Martha Stewart books and magazines, and request a similar cake. Normally the cakes would have baskets of blown-sugar fruits alongside, extremely intricate and fancy decorations, and so on. And she would tell them the price to recreate such a cake – !

  • tunie
    November 3, 2012 12:45pm

    I too, enjoy this blog, because knowing of your exemplary professional background, when I am here I feel like I am hanging out in your kitchen with you, getting the treats the pro chef makes for himself and his friends. Those are my favorite kinds of meals! Oliver has clearly missed out on the cultural nuances at play and it’s not his fault really. But he could have asked you about it in a nicer way. You wabi sabi with the best of them, David!

  • Joanne
    November 3, 2012 6:53pm

    We recently moved from LA after living there for 13 years. I don’t miss many things – but Little Flower is one of them. The first time I had one of her marshmallows I was shoving one in my mouth while driving and pulled over mid-gulp to call a friend to share the experience. Perfection. Sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries, confections – all stellar. Thanks for sharing the recipe and reminding me of good LA things!

  • Judith Basham
    November 3, 2012 8:06pm

    These are the most delectable little desserts ever! Salted caramel and chocolate never fails to please. I have just made them and they are all gone. Instead of using a wooden spoon to create the little wells in the chocolate tarts after they come out of the oven, try using a champagne cork. The rounded head fits beautifully into the just baked tartlets and creates the desired well for the liquid gold to come. Many thanks David and I have ordered her book and look forward to reading it.

    • nic miller
      November 3, 2012 11:08pm


      Using a champagne cork as a cooking utensil is the most deliciously decadent thing i have read in a while…..Wonderful!

    • November 3, 2012 11:19pm
      David Lebovitz

      Good idea! Of course, it’s also just another excuse to open a bottle of Champagne, too?
      ; )

  • Sherry Bellamy
    November 3, 2012 8:12pm

    Thank you for the recipe, and thank you for the thoughtful comments on the issue of “homemade” and “housewifey”.

    I (briefly) spent time on a forum for professional chefs, and I was swiftly put off by the sneering at the “housewives”, (aka, the women who are feeding the children of this planet). I’m a former chef, but now I just like to make food that people enjoy eating. I’m looking forward to trying this particular recipe; it’s very appealing. I’ll even use some of the words that are now verboten in the cheffy community….the tarts look “delicious” and “scrumptious”…possibly “unctuous”. Yummy, even.

    Your honesty and integrity are lovely qualities, and your blog is (and books are), a continuing delight.

  • salty
    November 3, 2012 10:58pm

    I made these yesterday with my two children ages 8 and 5. (Let’s just say I like a challenge!) They turned out AMAZING! The kids helped make the dough and formed the tarts and did the ganache, I took control of the caramel for obvious reasons. I just used the salted caramel recipe straight up, no additional cream because mine were a bit on the softer side. Just use good judgement on whether or not to add cream- make sure the caramel has cooled completely to determine the consistency. I also didn’t ‘scrape’ the tops smooth, just put a dollop of ganache and spread it gently to leave smooth rounded edges. I like the plump look- at least in desserts ;)

  • November 4, 2012 5:00pm

    Gorgeous!! Alas, I only have regular-sized muffin tins (which, hm, may actually a brilliant problem to have…).

  • November 4, 2012 5:38pm

    Hello David, i’m a friend of Marion L.
    She told me about your blog, and here i am.
    I was wondering : is there any french translation of your texts, I am definitively not able to read english… And I’m shure I should regret it, seeing all your amazing recipies …
    Thank you !
    PS : i have the same “SUCRE” brown and white pot than you have, in fact i have the whole serial, SUCRE, FARINE, THÉ …

  • November 4, 2012 6:38pm


    That is all.

  • Anna Dibble
    November 4, 2012 6:40pm

    Hi, I very much enjoy your blog, and have bought your books too. Is there some trick to accessing a printable version of your blog recipes? Thanks, Anna Dibble

  • November 4, 2012 9:07pm

    I read your post on Thursday and made these tarts Friday to take to a farmers’ market. They were the first things to sell out that morning. Absolutely delicious and stunningly beautiful.

  • Marcia
    November 4, 2012 11:37pm

    David, these look absolutely delicious. Complaining that your utterly tempting pictures don’t look like the obsessively perfect tarts coming out of Jacques Genin is like complaining that dinner at a lobster in the rough place on the water in Maine isn’t as fancy or technically complex as dinner at the latest temple of molecular gastronomy. They’re not supposed to be the same thing and each, done right, is entirely wonderful on its own terms. I love your photography.

    Can I freeze either just the tart shells or the completed tarts?

  • ranchodeluxe
    November 5, 2012 12:12am

    I just read this post and agree the tarts look too cool for school as the photo makes them look positively succulent. Love your readers coming to your defense re: the naysayer. No worries; we have your back.

  • November 5, 2012 12:16am

    Wow, these look delicious! I’ll have to try my hand at them soon!

  • John
    November 5, 2012 12:24am

    David, I just made a batch of your salted butter caramels (my first). They came out rather hard, but yummy. Is a very hard caramel going to be a non-starter for this tartlet recipe?

    Beautiful photography, btw!

  • roberta
    November 5, 2012 2:23am

    Hi David…re: the flour…if I used flour for making pasta…you know that fine italian flour would that be ok? I’m going to make these for an “Election Nite” potluck as we watch The President get re-elected:)

  • ingrid
    November 5, 2012 5:05am

    YUM! I have a recipe similar, though with homemade caramel filling (which is not hard at all) and instead of the fiddly-ness of individual tarts (or if you want to feed a larger crowd..) you press the base into a rectangular cake tin (or sponge roll tin) and then pre-bake for a bit, then top with caramel, bake a bit more, and then once cooked top with ganache. Seriously delicious!!

  • November 5, 2012 6:51am
    David Lebovitz

    roberta: I’ve not used that Italian flour (I’ve only seen it once in Paris) so can’t advise. But it works well with regular all-purpose flour, as well as with the rice flour. Happy potluck! : )

    John: You might want to check your thermometer if the candy it hard. But they will work fine for this recipe.

    Marcia: I am sure you could freeze the tartlet shells. The fully baked tarts could likely be as well, but their texture would likely change.

    Anna: Because I started the site before the advent of “print” pages, if I wanted to add that option, I’d have to go back and reformat every recipe page on the site (and there are hundreds!) While I could start doing it at some point, then folks would ask why the archived recipes weren’t formatted for printing. And it’s a few weeks of time to reformat all those recipe posts. (I’d exhausted just thinking about it..)

    You can use a “print out” site, such as – or cut and paste it into a Word doc & print it out.

  • Toby
    November 5, 2012 8:40pm


    I made these last night and all I can say is OMG. They are amazing. My husband’s face lit up as he took a bite. I found the dough to be a bit sticky as I was pressing into the mini pan and just lightly wet my finger and it smoothed out nicely.
    I think I’ll crumble a few tartlets and mix them into some vanilla ice cream. YUM.

  • mic
    November 6, 2012 8:54am

    Hi David,
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe!
    A winning combination, no doubt…
    I tried making them, and measuring the ingredients by weight used the 50 grams of cocoa powder for the dough, as mentioned. After tasting it, though, it felt a little bitter, as if I used too much. Is that how it’s supposed to taste?
    The reason I’m asking is that without the specified weight, if I had to convert 6 Tbs of cocoa powder, I would probably use about 30 grams, and that makes some difference…
    Sorry about being a pain, but I’d like to make them again, and want to be sure.
    Could you please tell me how much cocoa powder to use next time?
    Hope you don’t mind my asking. Thank you!

    • November 6, 2012 11:47am
      David Lebovitz

      I’m not sure what you said that you tasted, which tasted “a little bitter.” Cocoa powder is unsweetened and is usually bitter. Depending on your cocoa powder, the weight (and taste) can vary, but I used 50 grams or 6 tablespoons.

  • mic
    November 6, 2012 3:35pm

    Hi David,
    The baked chocolate shell tasted bitter. It was also a lot darker than yours, but I used Dutch-process, and I think you used Askinosie’s Natural?
    Anyway, thank you for confirming the weight measurement.
    Just wanted to make sure I get it right.
    Thank you, David!

  • Maggie
    November 7, 2012 4:32am

    I made these and they were wonderful! My caramel was a little too light because I was afraid of burning it. I took it off the heat too soon. Next time I will be braver. The tart shells were amazing. I think the shell recipe is so versatile and would work for lots of bite size treats. Thanks David!

  • Leslie
    November 8, 2012 3:30am

    I’m planning on bringing these to a pie competition tomorrow–wish me luck!

  • Martha in KS
    November 10, 2012 12:13am

    These are so gorgeous I had to put them on Pinterest! I have some caramel left from Halloween apples – gotta make these.

  • Pat
    November 10, 2012 6:30am

    This recipe sounds fantastic. Maybe this is obvious, but could I use your salted butter caramels recipe for this in their liquid stage, without actually letting them harden, as they are going to be melted anyway? If so, do you know what proportion of that recipe would be needed for the 4 ounces of caramels called for in this recipe? Thanks!

  • November 10, 2012 10:30am

    Hello David or anyone who has tried this recipe… Will they keep for a day or two or will they lose their crunch? Looks fab!

  • November 11, 2012 11:08am

    David, these look fantastic and are going on my baking list (at the top!) That last photo with the caramel oozing out….. :)

  • Kathryn
    November 12, 2012 10:06pm

    Hi David,

    It is amazing how words can sting. Thank you for revealing the comment left by Oliver. It was mean and small-minded of him. I have left a comment online in the past where it was meant to be humorous and then wondered ( obsessively ) if I unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings by the words I chose. As a result I try to choose my words even more carefully. I remember a very unkind comment someone left to me regarding a photograph I posted to my flickr photo stream years ago. I also deleted it, but the hurt remained for awhile.

    Anyone who does a lot of baking knows it is far more important for the end result to taste wonderful, as opposed to it tasting awful but looking pretty. I plan on making these tartlets during the holidays and sharing them with friends and family.

    Yours is the only blog I read. I enjoy it because you enrich all of us readers with your knowledge and your kindness. You have a wonderful spirit.

    Thank you.

  • Lori
    November 14, 2012 9:55pm

    I am making these this weekend using Taza Guajillo chocolate for the ganache and goat milk dulce de leche for the caramel filling. I have been looking for a recipe to use both in and this seems perfect. Thanks!

  • Judith Basham
    November 15, 2012 1:08pm

    SWEET JESUS! I have just received “Little Flower” cook book and what a treasure trove it is. There is no doubt in my mind that all the recipes in it will be just as good as the above recipe is. Many thanks David for the tip!

  • Aly
    November 16, 2012 6:40pm

    From an LA reader, David, thanks for covering The Little Flower Candy Co.! It’s a wonderful cafe and shop for those of us who don’t have quite the good fortune to be near to the beautiful bakeries of Paris. Love your blog!

  • November 18, 2012 5:00am

    Oh my goodness, hilarious story about getting the tartlets back from Romain! I swear I’ve done the exact same thing with my partner on numerous occasions… :)

  • Jennifer de Livera
    November 19, 2012 6:46am

    Hi David,

    I made these tartlets and they turned out very nicely indeed ! If I may make one suggestion I would recommend that when making the ganache, that the pan of hot cream be poured into a bowl of chocolate off the stove, rather than the other way around, to avoid splitting.

    Maybe mini muffin tins are even smaller in Australia, but I managed to produce 36 tartlets rather than just 24 ! lucky me :)

    Thanks for all the great recipes,


  • Erin
    November 19, 2012 9:00pm

    Hi David,

    I have Celiac disease and am subsequently often left with few dessert options. After having recently moved into a house with a fantastic kitchen and roommates willing to eat just about anything, I’ve taken to baking my own gluten free treats. For these, I used King Arthur’s gluten free all purpose flour. As it’s primarily rice, I just used this for the whole cup. In the first batch I baked, about 18 of the tartlets fell apart as I tried to pull them out of the tin. The remaining 6 were delicious, however.

    I saved the broken tartlets and decided to make one large tart for an office holiday party. I mixed 1.5 cups of the finely crumbled cookies with 6 tablespoons of melted butter and about 1/3 cup of sugar. I pressed it into a 9 inch cake pan and baked it for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees (F). I kind of “winged it” on the crust, and so I took it out of the oven every so often to check its doneness. I also took this time to press the crust down into the pan and up the sides.

    It was a huge hit with my office mates and they are still talking about it!

    Thank you,

    • November 20, 2012 9:59am
      David Lebovitz

      Glad it worked out! Folks who has specific food intolerances and/or allegies are often good at being creative & inventive because of necessity. Happy to hear that you were able to “fix” it and make it a hit with your office mates. Enjoy!

  • Erica
    November 20, 2012 12:17am

    Can I use a can of store bought dolce de leche in place of the caramels or is the consistency different?

    • November 20, 2012 12:36am
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know about that substitution because I haven’t tried it. But if you do, it would be interesting to know how it works out!

  • Erica
    November 20, 2012 5:49pm

    I tried it and it was alright. I think the homemade dulce de leche sauce would be a better idea as the consistency is thicker and gooey-er. The canned dolce de leche (I used Eagle brand) is quite runny and you can’t ‘dollop’ it. It’s not bad, but I will definitely try making my own next time. I just didn’t have the time :). The brownie batter was delicious though.

  • November 22, 2012 9:41pm

    Growing up in South Carolina, my sister’s godmum used to make caramel brownies and I adored them, although I wasn’t a lover of chocolate. When I left home for University there was a wonderful bakery in Evanston called Ganache. The owner made her own caramel & sandwiched between layers of chocolate brownie.

    This recipe reminds me of that deliciousness. I can’t wait to bake this but 1st to finish the olive brining and then the quince jam making.

  • November 29, 2012 7:56pm

    This is the first time I’ve visited your blog and I can tell that this is amazing!! I’m from Brazil and I miss so much blogs like yours down here… I will definately try this recipe! Congratulations.