When dessert has to be chocolate, this recipe is the answer for a decadent dark chocolate tart. It's smooth and rich, with vanilla and a hint of orange. All of this, gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free using plant-based butter. Perfect for the holidays. Not a hazelnut fan? Make it with an almond flour crust instead.
Thinking over my holiday menu, I wanted something chocolate for dessert. Something rich and beautiful. A dessert that would elicit "oh wow" comments from my family and friends. Something that would send them into chocolate heaven. I am thrilled to share my new recipe just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And you can make it ahead!
Please see the recipe card for measurements.
- Nut flour: both hazelnut flour and almond flour work in this chocolate tart recipe. Hazelnut has a classic affinity for chocolate (think Nutella), try it for a change.
- Coconut flour: blends great with nut flours, providing a subtle sweet flavor and structure to the crust.
- Sugar: use light brown sugar, sucanat (sugar cane natural) or coconut sugar. I've used them all. Sucanat is coarser but melts with baking.
- Butter: choose unsalted (sweet) butter, not salted butter. You do not want the saltiness of salted butter. For dairy-free, use plant butter (stick not tub).
Chocolate Tart Filling
- Chocolate: you want a high quality, dark chocolate rated around 70%-72%. See my tips below on chocolate.
- Coconut milk: use canned whole coconut milk, do not use low fat. It won't be the same. And interestingly enough, you don't taste the coconut. It works just like heavy cream but without the dairy.
- Eggs: eggs act as binders and add rich smoothness to many recipes, especially this filling.
- Vanilla: use good quality vanilla extract or paste. More details on vanilla below.
- Orange oil: this is optional but chocolate and orange have a wonderful flavor affinity for each other, and it's just a hint, something a little different. Don't use orange extract.
No Pastry Press-in Crust
Whether you eat gluten-free or not, you are bound to love this crisp, cookie-like crust. It's easy to make. No dealing with rolling out pastry. Just press the simple dough into a 9 ½-inch light colored metal tart pan with a removable bottom. They are inexpensive, available at kitchen supply stores and online.
If you've never made a tart crust like this, don't be intimidated. It really is easy and only takes a few minutes - about 12 to be exact.
The photo below is made with almond flour. The hazelnut flour is darker in color.
For complete directions read here.
Chocolate is the star player in this tart, so choose a high quality, bittersweet dark chocolate, around 70% - 72%. There are many good chocolates available. I like Theo, Guittard, Scharffen Berger, Valhrona, and my new favorite chocolate, Hu Kitchen.
I use Hu "Gems": organic, no dairy, no GMO's, no emulsifiers, no lecithins, no Gluten, no refined or cane cane. No weird ingredients! Just good, clean, terrific chocolate.
Chef's tip - For accuracy, weigh the chocolate on a digital kitchen scale, a great and inexpensive addition to your kitchen tools.
Secret Richness: Coconut Milk
This filling is a take off on something called a French ganache, usually made with heavy cream. I've used whole coconut milk instead. It's rich and smooth with absolutely no taste of coconut.
Chef's health tip: Buy coconut milk (and any canned goods) in BPA-free cans. My preferred brand is Native Forest.
Vanilla & Orange Supporting Flavors
The rich chocolate filling is laced wtih vanilla extract and orange oil. Use real vanilla, not the artificial stuff. I buy strong vanilla, called double vanilla, for full, rich flavor, or use vanilla paste. The past is more concentrated than extract, so you use less, and it's more stable for baking. You can also double the vanilla extract quantity if you are using regular vanilla.
Orange and chocolate have a wonderful affinity for each other. For the orange flavor, I use orange oil, not orange extract. Oil has a stronger, purer flavor than extract. Find it at cooking stores, restaurant supplies and online. If all you can find is extract, it will work fine, but it may not be as strong. Skipping it is fine too.
How to Melt Chocolate
Chocolate is best melted slowly and gently in a double boiler (or it can get grainy instead of stay smooth). Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Just a few inches of water will do. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
Place chocolate bits, wafers or finely chopped pieces into the bowl and allow it to melt. Stir occasionally until smooth.
After chocolate is melted, turn off the heat, remove the bowl from the pan and let the chocolate cool a little. You don't want the eggs to scramble when being added to the chocolate. Add coconut milk, beaten eggs, vanilla and orange oil. Stir until smooth.
Chef's tip: chocolate and water are enemies. If you get water (or steam) into the chocolate it might seize or harden up, so be extra careful.
Pour the filling into a pre-baked tart crust and bake for 20 minutes at 350º.
After baking, cool, chill and slice to serve. If you want, top with a dollop of whipped cream, either whipped coconut or whipped dairy cream.
Chef's tip: Do not place plastic film right on top of the tart surface as it will stick. When you try to take it off it will mess up the pretty, smooth surface. If you do, you can always cover with whipped cream. Place a large piece of parchment or waxed paper over the top first to cover, then wrap in plastic film (after tart has cooled).
Either in a microwave on lower power stirring every 20 seconds or so, or on the stove top by setting up a double boiler. Melt chocolate slowly so it does not get grainy. Too high of heat in the microwave can burn chocolate. Go slow and be careful.
Use a dark, often called bittersweet, chocolate around 70% - 72%.
The tart holds well refrigerated and wrapped for about 2 days, so save time and make it ahead.
If you love tarts, try this pumpkin tart recipe. It's not just for Thanksgiving. And for more chocolate recipes, try these.
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Decadent Dark Chocolate Tart
Hazelnut Tart Crust
- 1 ½ cups hazelnut flour or almond flour 5 ½ ounces
- ½ cup ounces coconut flour 2 ¼ ounces
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted or plant butter (stick not tub)
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 9 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate 70%-72%
- 10 ounces canned whole coconut milk do not use low fat
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract I use double vanilla
- ½ teaspoon orange oil optional
- 1 pinch sea salt
- whipped coconut or dairy cream as garnish optional
- chocolate shavings
Make the tart crust
- It takes 10-12 minutes to mix and press into the tart pan and another 18 minutes to bake at 350ºF. The tart crust can be baked ahead, wrapped tightly and keep at room temperature for a day before filling. To bake it right away, leave oven set up 350°F. Allow the tart crust to cool before filling and baking
Make the filling
- To make the filling, set up a double boiler. Place a medium pan filled with a few inches of water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low, place a medium bowl over the top of the pan of simmering water. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Add chocolate. Allow chocolate to melt slowly. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then stir in coconut milk, eggs. vanilla, orange and salt. Do not put the eggs into hot chocolate or the eggs could scramble. Stir until smooth, then pour into the baked tart crust.
Bake the tart
- Bake chocolate filled tart on a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat (to prevent sliding) approximately 20-22 minutes or until the chocolate filling is set and fairly firm. Remove tart from the oven and allow to cool completely, then refrigerate.