Vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts

Vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts

vegan chocolate and salted caramel tart cut in half

While summer in Greece probably stretches a bit further than in most of Europe, our weather has also turned recently. It is still fairly warm, but really, really windy, which is the taste of impending winter, Greek island-style.

In some ways, winter here is quite tough. After the craze of summer, the place gets so empty and shut down that it would be depressing if not for the amazing nature around us. Winter (and the peak of Greek summer) also tends to sabotage my running plans. Every time I get into a steady running routine and quietly congratulate myself on sticking with it, a week of 24 m/h (40km/h) winds appear on the horizon and I’m back to square one.

In other ways though, I’m looking forward to winter. For starters, cooking in relentless heat can be quite challenging so a bit of cooler weather makes it a much more pleasant pastime. Another thing I am looking forward to are cold winter evenings spent under a warm blanket with a cat sleeping next to me, catching up on favourite shows and enjoying some nice wine and food, including more decadent desserts like these vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts.

Ever since I started working on this recipe, Duncan has become a massive fan of these little tarts. Whenever, after a tasting, I decided that I am not 100% happy with the end result (be it looks, consistency or balance of flavours), he was secretly very happy that there will be a few more iterations of this dessert appearing in front of him.

He is very particular when it comes to desserts. He hates typical vegan desserts (or what most people think of when they hear ‘vegan dessert’) with a passion. He says all kinds of energy balls, vegan slices and raw brownies (ahem), etc. remind him of baby food. Nice! He loves the kind of desserts that you would have hard time believing were vegan if someone hadn’t told you. He says that the world doesn’t need any more energy balls, it needs elegant and decadent desserts that just happen to be vegan. He reckons that you guys will go crazy for these!

vegan chocolate shortcrust pastry cases

filling vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts

vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts

vegan chocolate and salted caramel tart cut open

makes
4
PREP
40 min
COOKING
20 min
makes
4
PREPARATION
40 min
COOKING
20 min
INGREDIENTS

PASTRY

  • 120 g white all purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 6 level tsp icing sugar
  • 6 level tsp raw cacao powder
  • 40 ml / 2½ tbsp olive oil
  • 20-30 ml / 1½-2 tbsp water (at room temperature)

CARAMEL SAUCE

  • ½ cup sugar (I used brown raw cane)
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk + ¼ cup (see instructions)
  • ¾ level tsp fine salt

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 100 g / 3.5 oz dark (70% cocoa) chocolate
  • 60 ml / ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
METHOD

PASTRY

  1. Sift flour, icing sugar and cacao into a mixing bowl. Add olive oil and rub it into the dry ingredients with your hands. Finally add water – be careful, do it gradually – how much water you’ll need depends on how absorbent your flour is (mine needed 25 ml). Combine all the ingredients into a dough gently, but do not knead. Wrap it in a piece of cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
  2. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 4 portions. Place each portion of the dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll gently until you get a rough circle, about 2-3 mm in thickness. (Below a photo from another tart recipe illustrates how to line tart moulds with shortcrust pastry).
  3. Put each rolled-out pastry over each mould and and work the pastry into the mould making sure it reaches all nooks and crannies. Once you are happy with the coverage, trim off the excess pastry with a sharp knife. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork in a few places. Place the pastry in the fridge for about 60 mins.
  4. shortcrust pastry step by step

  5. 45 min into pastry chilling time, preheat the oven to 175° C / 350° F. Line the pastry cases with a small piece of baking paper and fill with baking beads.
  6. Blind bake the pastry for 15 mins, then remove the beads and bake for another 5 mins. Cool pastry cases down completely before pouring any of the filling in.

CARAMEL

  1. Spread an even layer of sugar at the bottom of a dry pan or pot. Heat up sugar on a medium heat (I used setting 3 out of 6). Refrain from stirring it, although if your pan has hot spots, you may need to gently manoeuvre unmelted sugar into a hot spot. Meanwhile, warm up ½ cup of coconut milk in a separate pot.
  2. Once all the sugar has melted, let the sugar caramelise and darken slightly (it will happen quite quickly so be careful not to burn it). The darker the caramel the less sweet it will be. Once the sugar achieves the colour you are after, take the pan off the heat and slowly stir in warmed up coconut milk and then add salt. Be very careful as even though warming milk up minimises this, caramel may be splattering at this point and it will be very hot.
  3. There is a chance that once you add coconut milk, some of the caramel will harden into big lumps. What you need to do is to return the pan to the stove and set on a very low setting (I used 2 out of 6) to allow these lumps to melt away. Make sure you keep on stirring the mixture. Now, because the longer you cook your caramel sauce the more sticky and less sauce-like it will become, if you do need to bring it back to the stove to melt any stubborn lumps, add another ¼ cup / 60 ml of coconut milk to the pan to ensure that once your lumps have dissolved the caramel will retain sauce consistency. Do not panic if it appears to be too runny at first, caramel thickens as it cools down. If it does end up being too runny, place the pan back on the stove an reduce the caramel gently to thicken the sauce.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  1. Melt the chocolate very slowly (I used setting 1 out of 6) over a water bath. Once melted, remove from heat, but keep the bowl with chocolate over the hot water. Start adding coconut milk whisking gently the whole time. At this point the chocolate may seem to have seized a little, don’t worry, keep on whisking gently and any lumps will eventually melt away. Once you have added all coconut milk, add water stirring the whole time.
  2. Once you have a smooth ganache, add 2 tsp of maple syrup – this is not strictly necessary as I find that bitter chocolate provides a nice contrast against very sweet caramel, but that’s up to you.
  3. Let it cool off completely before pouring it into cool pastry cases.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Pour about a level tbsp of cool caramel sauce into cool (that’s important) pastry cases.
  2. Pour cool chocolate ganache on top of the caramel. Let the tarts set for a few hours at room temperature. You can also put them into the fridge if you want be able to eat them sooner.
  3. If you want to store these overnight, I found that the best way to do it is to keep them in a box covered with a piece of cling film at room temperature (as opposed to the fridge).

NOTES
I used mini tart moulds that have a diameter of 8 cm and height of 2 cm.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
551
28%
sugars
38 g
42%
fats
30 g
43%
saturates
17 g
85%
proteins
8 g
16%
carbs
68 g
26%
*per tart
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4.8
10 reviews, 68 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Mojoblogs:
This looks really good, so smooth! I I'm excited to try these. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
    Ania
    Ania:
    My pleasure, I hope you'll enjoy them. x Ania
Lisa:
Ganache completely seized up and broke. :_(
Not sure what I did wrong.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Lisa,
    I'm sorry to hear that, I am not sure what you mean by 'broke' but you can bring it back by mixing in a small amount of boiling water. Ganache can seize when chocolate was heated too aggressively or when chocolate comes in contact with any water/moisture. Hope this helps! Ania
Zoe:
I made these for my gcse exam and they turned out really well and tastes great. Really recommended making the amazing little tarts. The only thing I did was I added some icing sugar to the ganache as I found it a little rich.
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm glad they worked out well for you, Zoe! Congrats on your exam! When you say 'rich' I take it you mean too bitter? My intention was for the chocolate layer to offer contrast for the very sweet caramel layer underneath, but glad you were able to adjust the recipe to your taste. x Ania
margaret fieldsend:
Can you please convert 1/2 cup of sugar to grams and 1/2 cup of coconut milk to either grams or millilitres thank you. Margaret
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Margaret,
    1/2 cup of caster sugar is 100 g and 1/2 cup of any liquid is 120 ml. I hope that helps! Ania
Avril:
Hi, are you Vegan? I'm a bit confused I need to bake a sweet dish that is suitable for vegans I notice you use flour I'm under the impression a vegan is wheat and gluten free. Also no dairy or animal products are used. Can you clarify this for me.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Avril,
    Veganism is not a diet. It is about avoidance of all animal or animal-derived products (for example: meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, leather, gelatine and honey) to minimise animal suffering. It has nothing to do with being gluten-free, although some vegans, like non-vegans, choose to be or have to be gluten-free due to wheat intolerance. Hope that helps! There are lots of articles about this online (like this one here). Ania
Sara:
Ooh this sounds great! I'm wondering if you can taste the coconut? Namely in the caramel part. Thanks!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Sara,
    I haven't tried it side by side with regular caramel (for obvious reasons) so not sure. I am guessing that if you are sensitive to coconut taste you probably could a little. Ania
Kleanthis @ Yumbles:
Those tarts in the photos look absolutely amazing Ania. They look so well balanced and professionally made. I wonder if you have also tried the recipe with almond milk.
I have just discovered your blog and I am really excited with some of your recipes. Your Greek inspired vegan dishes , in particular, will be something I will definitely try in the following weeks.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks you, that's lovely to hear!! I haven't tried this recipe with almond milk, but I have made an almond milk ganache for this recipe for example so it's certainly very possible, however, what I have realised is that the firmness of the ganache depends on the particular brand of chocolate you use. The 70% dark chocolate I used to buy when I lived in Greece required much more almond milk to achieve the ganache of the desired consistency compared to the 70% brands I tried in the UK so please be aware of that and try on a small sample first. Hope that helps! Ania
Victoria:
Hi Ania. I’m dairy free due to being intolerant, I struggle to find really scrummy puddings which I can eat which I actually want to make. I’ll make a Victoria sponge (dairy free) but not really eat any, the same with flapjack. This recipe however, this has smashed it out the water. I’ve never made caramel before so I was chuffed how that came out. I thought I had tart baking cases but after recently moving and most of my kitchen/baking ware in storage and using my mother in laws due to lack of space, I ended up using one of my cake tins for the tart. As I didn’t want the delicious caramel to ooze our as it was a big tart, when my caramel clumped together, I didn’t add more milk, this really helped to have a firm caramel, whilst still not solid. I also made extra ganache, I used 135g of chocolate, and worked on the basis of 15ml less coconut milk to the weight of the chocolate. That was definitely a wing, but it worked, although I didn’t add any water. It’s so yummy & I’m so grateful for your recipe. Thank you very much!!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thank you for your kind words, Victoria! I'm really chuffed to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! :) Ania
Paula:
used a GF flour , and it was very dry shell. next time I will try a coconut flour.
My caramel sauce didn't thicken , had to thicken it with tapica flour. it didn't alter the flavour.
appears I have some holes in the crust. running caramel sauce coming out the bottom of the tarts..hahah...im just licking it up no bigging.
hope it sets before all the sauce runs out the hole..
Not discouraged. I will try these again.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Paula,
    From my experience coconut flour is very water absorbent so you may end up with a dry shell too. Have you tried adding more oil and water to the GF pastry? As for the caramel it sounds like you didn't cook it for long enough and so excess moisture haven't had a chance to evaporate, perhaps persevere a bit longer next time. And also, I am glad you are not losing heart as caramel is a tricky thing to get right if you haven't made one before. It took me a while to learn the technique and patience too ;) Good luck next time! Ania
Kanako:
It looks soooo delicious!!!
Could I use cacaomas or dairy-free chocolate instead of raw cacao for the pastry?
I think that I seem to be able to do it if I change other combination…
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Kanako. I'm unsure as to what you mean by 'cacaomas' and I don't think a melted chocolate bar will work. What is needed is something in powder form so that you don't overwork the flour while trying to incorporate melted chocolate for example. Hope that makes sense! Ania
      Kanako:
      Thank you for your reply.
      Sorry for the confusing explanation.
      "Cacaomas" means chocolate liquor (cocoa liquor) or cocoa mass.
        Ania
        Ania:
        I've looked it up and I'm not sure whether it's suitable, but if you have experience of using it in the shortcrust pastry than don't mind me at all. I've never used it myself so I may be wrong. Ania
Mrl:
Do you think I can also use cupcake forms instead of tart ones?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Yes, that should work although in my experience it is harder to get the pastry to be that thin and delicate. Ania
Philippa:
We are 6 weeks in to being Vegan which is a big change for our 50 year old bodies! However, it is going well and we are really embracing it. I am always on the look out for new recipes to try and am looking forward to making this today for Valentines for my lovely hubby!
Interested that you are in Greece, we spent a lovely few weeks on Syros last October, so beautiful :) We live in New Zealand which is also a beautiful place.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Congratulations on making the transition, Philippa! For me and my fiance, it has been the best decision we have ever made! It changed our lives in so many good ways. I'm excited that you are planning to make these, hope they will hit the spot! I have been to Syros a few times, it's a lovely island with beautiful Venetian architecture, isn't it? We no longer live in Greece (we moved to the UK in November last year), but plan to spend long summer holidays there every year. Ania
Holly D:
I made a variation on this for Christmas dinner today - used the recipe for the ganache and the caramel but replaced the pastry with a biscuit base of digestives/hob nobs! It turned out so well and was definitely one of the best desserts I've ever made, and even the carnivores agreed!
    Ania
    Ania:
    That's great news, Holly! I'm chuffed to hear that it was such a hit! Ania
Gaby:
Hi! They look AMZING! What about if I use coconut sugar?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Gaby! I haven't tried coconut sugar so I cannot be sure, but worth trying on half a recipe, I would say. Ania
Willl:
Made these last night and they are amazing!!! Used caster sugar for the caramel and almond milk in the ganache, which worked fine. Also had to add quite a bit more water to bring the dough together, then cooked them in bun cases so made about 14 small tarts.
They taste absolutely fantastic... vegan for the win 😁
    Ania
    Ania:
    That's great to hear, Will :) Thank you for taking the time to leave such a nice comment! Ania
Chloe:
Hi Ania,
Thank you for the recipe it looks fab and I'll be making it for my husbands and my date night this weekend!
Can this recipe be made in a normal 9" tart tin? I don't have any of the individual ones.
Thanks
Chloe
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Chloe,
    Thank you. I hope both you and your husband will like it. Yes, sure, as long as there is enough pastry and filling to cover the surface area and fill the tart, of course. Ania
Catherine:
Thank you for your reply Ania🙂Unfortunately it just didn't firm up much but putting it in the freezer helped and I did get the ganache on the top. The pastry seemed a little tough, not very stretchy like I am used to. In the end it tasted delicious and my daughter loved it. I love vegan recipes very much but I do seem to find the desserts a little tricky to make with the lack of animal fats but I will keep trying. Again thank you for your reply and for the tasty recipe🙂
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Catherine,
    I'm glad to hear that it turned out well in the end and that your daughter loved it! As for the caramel, it does sound like it needed to be pushed a touch more. The pastry is shortcrust pastry so it should not be stretchy at all (you don't knead it like pizza dough), otherwise it will end up tough once baked. I appreciate that switching to vegan alternatives might take some getting used to but it's really worth it! Trust me :) Ania
Catherine:
My daughter asked for this for her birthday dessert recipe so I thought I would give it a try for her. It sounds like a delicious recipe and I love all the ingredients you have used I however had all sorts of trouble with the caramel firming up enough to put the chocolate on top and ended up putting it in the freezer. The pastry was also very difficult to roll out too. Any tips for next time?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Catherine,
    I'm sorry to hear that you had trouble obtaining the right consistency of caramel. Making caramel is a bit of a art form, vegan or not, so please don't be discouraged! This particular caramel is meant to fairly runny as you want it to ooze out of from underneath the ganache layer - like in my photos. Once the caramel has been cooled down completely, there should be no problem with pouring cooled chocolate ganache on top, especially that the sides are enclosed by pastry - did you modify the recipe in any way? I must say that I am not sure I understand what went wrong. As for the pastry, it sounds like it perhaps needed a touch more water, it should not be tough at all.
    Ania
maya:
great recipe, thank you so much for sharing it :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much for you kind words, it's so nice to hear that! :) Ania
Anisa Stier:
Hi Ania, love this recipe. i plan to make them for christmas and would be nice if i could make them ahead or either parts of it ahead. Do you know how long the tarts will keep either in or out of the fridge?
Kind regards, Anisa
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Anisa,
    Thank you, I am so glad to hear it! I'll be honest, I don't know as they don't last longer than 2 days in my house (or I give them to my neighbours), but you can definitely make caramel ahead of time and keep it in a sterlised jar in the fridge and perhaps pastry can be made ahead, laid out in a pastry tin and frozen until you are ready to bake it.
    Hope that helps a little!
    Ania
Nigella:
Made these tonight.... had problems with the caramel unfortunately. Followed instructions exactly, sugar burnt on the bottom before it was melted on the top... help! any suggestions? wasn't even a thick layer of sugar so out of ideas myself. seems stirring it would actually have worked better. ended up just making chocolate tarts without the caramel which was nice but less exciting.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Nigella,
    I'm sorry to hear that you had problems making the caramel. If that's of any consolation, caramel is notorious for being tricky to get right and I myself have messed it up a number of times too, so don't worry. There are two methods for caramel makin: dry (which is the one I gave in the recipe) or wet. Stirring is definitely a 'no no' in a dry method as it causes the sugar to clump together and harden. It sounds to me that your heat might have been turned up a bit too high. Were you making more than one portion? With 1/2 cup of sugar you should have a thin layer of sugar, even in a small pan. I would try again if you are not too discouraged. Perhaps watching a You Tube tutorial on the art of caramel making will be helpful.
    Hope that helps,
    Ania
Iulia:
Do you think i could use cocoa butter or coconut butter instead of regular butter in a traditional pastry dough to make it vegan? also, i think the less you work it, the crumblier it is, right? as opposed to working it a lot and getting all the gluten activated and gooey :)
also, for the caramel i'm thinking to use coconut sugar, which already has the caramelly flavor :P
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Iulia,
    I haven't tried making pastry with either cocoa butter or coconut butter so I'm not sure. Coconut oil will definitely work, but I would advise going for refined one in this instance. Yes, you are not supposed to 'work' shortcrust pastry or it will get tough. Gluten activation is not your friend when it comes to pastry making :) Hope that helps, Ania.
Lena:
They're actually very good! I'm just not sure I got the consitency of the pastry right. It doesn't develop like shortcrust at all (which I'm not surprised about), but turned out more like a biscuit (my husband said like Chocolate Digestives / Graham Crackers). Did I get it wrong or are the pastry cases supposed to be like that?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Lena. Glad you liked them. As for the pastry, I'm not sure what you mean exactly (believe it or not but I don't think I've ever had a Graham Cracker!). Olive oil pastry is certainly not as crumbly as the butter one but it should not be hard either. Is it possible that it got overworked a bit as that would make the pastry hard...If you can find refined coconut oil where you live, try with coconut oil next time - you may like it more as it mimics butter more closely.
    Hope that helps,
    Ania
Noah:
Hello! Could I use cocoa powder instead of raw cacao for the pastry?
They look great!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Noah,
    How strange, I've already replied to your question (see below). Hope that helps, Ania
Noah:
Hey, these look amazing!
I was wondering what you thought of substituting cocoa powder for raw cacao?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Noah,
    I'll be honest, I've never tried it and I don't use it as an ingredient but if it tastes like bitter chocolate then it should work fine. If it is sweetened then you may need to reduce the amount of sugar in the pastry, but don't fret too much as the filling is sweet enough so unsweetened pastry won't be a disaster if you don't nail the exact ratio.
    Good luck!
    Ania
Hannah:
This recipe looks fantastic! Could I make this recipe into one large tart? Are there any parts I can do ahead? For example, could I make the caramel the day before? Thanks!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Hannah
    Thank you, I'm glad you like the recipe! I haven't tried making them any other size, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Yes, caramel can certainly be made a day ahead as it's a runny caramel so no problems there. The crust could possibly be made a day in advance too although I always the pastry fresh so not sure whether sticking it into the fridge overnight won't affect the texture. I would make the pastry on the day if you can.
    Hope you'll like the end result!
    Ania
Hadia:
Looks really good, Ania. Vegan can never be better than that.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you for your kind words, Hadia! :)
Anja:
Hello Ania,
Sounds fantastic. But how much is a level? Couldn't find it on google. I live in the US.
Thank you. Can't wait to try them....
Anja
Emily Hodgkinson:
Hi, I am hoping to make these over Christmas, they look great. Can I just check, with the coconut milk, do you just use the thick cream at the top of the can or some of the liquid too? All the full fat cans I find are split with cream at the top and water at the bottom.
Thanks,
Emily
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Emily. I mixed in the creamy part of coconut milk with the liquid part and used that. Hope they go down a storm with you family and friends.
Patricia:
This looks amazing and I can't wait to try it.
To be fair, I wouldn't think of a typical vegan dessert as energy balls or something raw/healthy. I think that's setting the stereotype that makes it SO hard to get vegan desserts mainstream.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Couldn't agree more, Patricia. We are here to smash that stereotype:) Hope you like these tarts as much as we do:)
ruthgarvey @ rocketmail.com:
This looks amazing, I can't wait to try it out .
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Ruth! We would love to hear how they turned out! :)
Alexandra:
Can I use regular milk? (No nuts)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Alexandra, I suppose so although for obvious reasons I have not tried it myself. Cow's milk is less thick that coconut milk so you may need to play around with ratios a bit. For the caramel, I would use thin cream rather than milk.
Ida Elen:
They look spectacular! Thanks for sharing :D
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thank you so much!
Yvette:
Woman please! This treat looks so yummy I can taste it through my eyes. Must make, must consume. So, about how many calories per serving?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Ha ha, all I can promise is that you won't regret making or consuming it. As for calories, let's not think about it;)
Julie:
They are impressive ! All ingredients that are already in my kitchen :) Will try them soon !
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you:) Great to hear that you're planning to try them - they are quite addictive:)
What can I substitute for the coconut milk?
    Ania
    Ania:
    With regards to ganache, one thing I know definitely works is homemade (commercial ones have too much water) almond milk (1:3 almond to water ratio). If you do that skip the water and use almond milk instead of coconut milk and water in this recipe, i.e. 90 ml in total. You could also use just water but then you need to use less and that needs some experimenting, maybe try 75g chocolate and 50 ml water to begin with. When it comes to caramel, it will be hard to achieve similar consistency with a thinner milk. Perhaps, using homemade almond milk and a touch of coconut oil or cashew cream will work, but I have not tried it myself.
    Hope that helps, Ania
janet @ the taste space:
I love the look of these, Ania. The bit of salt probably brings these over the top!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Janet! It took me a few attempts to perfect these tarts so I'm really pleased to hear that you like them.
    Lianka Karmi:
    One of the most beautiful recipes i ever read!You explain everything the way should be...
    Greetings from Greece !
    Its accidental that im reading this recipe
      Ania
      Ania:
      Thanks so much, Lianka! So glad to hear that! Sending warm greetings back from very sunny and still Paros island! :) Ania
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