Photograph by David Malosh Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero 
Prop Styling by Amy Wilson

Bitter: Taste

Bitter Chocolate Tart with Caramel

Desserts from Issue 12 - Winter 2018 – The Senses

Though evidence suggests that cacao’s first appearance dates all the way back to Southern Mexico’s ancient Olmec civilization (circa 1500 BC), it is from the Mayans that we get the word chocolate; it’s a derivative of “xocolatl,” which means “bitter water.” And without any sugar to be found, that was an apt description for their version of chocolate, which was generally drinks made from ground beans, water, and chili peppers. Our velvety tart cushions the bitter impact with caramel and coconut for an effect as divine as the Mayans once believed those magical cacao beans to be.

serves 8 to 10

  • 1 ½ cups plus 3 Tbsp sugar, divided
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil, divided
  • 2 cups full fat coconut cream, divided (we like Trader Joe’s, or Kara brand from
  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 7 oz good quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

  • 1

    Make the cocoa shortbread crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine ½ cup sugar, ½ cup flour, ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp cocoa powder and ½ tsp salt in a bowl. Stir in ¼ cup coconut oil to form a crumbly dough. Spread evenly into a 9-inch tart pan with removable sides and bake until top feels dry and starts to crack, 20 minutes.

  • 2

    Make caramel: Combine 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat without stirring, swirling pan occasionally, and washing down any crystals that form on side of pan with a brush dipped in cold water, until caramel is a deep amber color. If certain spots darken too fast, gently swirl pan to mix. Remove from heat and whisk in ¾ cup coconut cream and ½ tsp salt. (Careful, it will foam and double in size.) Pour caramel over crust and freeze 1 hour.

  • 3

    Make bitter chocolate ganache filling: Combine instant coffee with remaining 1 ¼ cups coconut cream, 3 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, and 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a small pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat. Pour over chopped chocolate, then add vanilla and scant ¼ tsp salt. Let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir from center working outward until smooth. (Don’t overmix.) Spread over caramel and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour. Transfer tart from pan to platter and let stand 15 minutes before serving.