Add this Chocolate Tart Crust to your recipe box, it is simple to make and tastes amazing. This shortcrust is buttery rich, perfectly crispy with a deep chocolate flavor that makes a beautiful tart shell worthy of your best fillings for a dessert that will look like it came from a French bakery. And, feel free to call this a Chocolate Pâte Sablée
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Today we are making a Chocolate Pâte Sablée, which is the extra fancy name for a chocolate tart shell. And, just in case you are confused, this tart is also called a rich shortcrust pastry, shortbread crust, shortcrust, or just a crust. No matter what, this dough is easy to make.
What is a Pâte Sablée?
Sablée translates to "sandy" which describes the texture of the dough.
This is a rich sweetened dough that contains egg yolks. The method to make this tart dough is similar to a pie dough where you cut butter into flour, and for this recipe cocoa powder, along with the yolks, then mix in the cream. Use this recipe for an Easy Shortcrust Tart Dough.
The texture of a baked Pâte Sablée is just slightly crumbly and tender, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. This is very similar to our favorite Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies or these very citrusy Lemon Shortbread Cookies.
Notes on the ingredients
For this crust, all-purpose flour is readily available and works well in this recipe.
Also known as confectioner's sugar or icing sugar. Powdered sugar contains a small amount of cornstarch which helps create a lighter, tender crust over using granulated sugar. Using just granulated sugar creates a more crumbly crust.
This tart is all about great butter flavor and I prefer to use unsalted butter since I add salt in the recipe. Cube this butter and keep it cold.
Using the egg yolk adds richness to the dough and also is used to bind the dough. You can use the whole egg, but then reduce the amount of cream you add.
Make sure to use a good unsweetened quality cocoa powder, after all, chocolate is what this dessert is about.
This adds just an extra bit of richness to the dough and in the end, helps bring the dough together. Half and half can be substituted.
Let's make a tart
Making the dough
Step 1. Add the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk together until blended and lumps are broken up.
Step 2. Cube the cold butter and add the flour mixture, then toss well to coat the butter.
Step 3. Pour in the beaten egg yolk.
Step 4. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture u
Step 5. Add the cream and mix that in with a fork.
Step 6. At this point, the dough will still be crumbly. With your hands start pressing the dough together to form a cohesive dough.
Step 7. Sprinkle cocoa powder on a rolling mat or a smooth surface. Turn the dough onto the mat and knead very gently to bring the dough together forming the dough into a large disk; round if using a round tart pan, or more oblong if using a rectangle pan. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
Rolling the dough
Step 8. To roll the dough, set the chilled dough on the rolling make that has been sprinkled with cocoa powder, for flour. Let sit for about 10 minutes which will make it easier to roll.
Step 9. To roll, sprinkle the top of the dough with cocoa powder or flour. This dough is a bit soft and can be a bit sticky, so make sure to keep the rolling surface covered with the powder/flour. For a 14 x 4-inch rectangle pan, roll the dough to about 16 x 8 inches. For a 9-inch round tart pan, roll the dough to about a 13-inch circle.
Step 10. To move the dough to the pan, simply roll the dough loosely around the rolling pin, then unroll it into the pan.
Step 11. Once in the pan, you can gently pick up the sides and ease the dough into the edges.
Step 12. Take the rolling pin and roll it over the pan to remove the excess dough. I suggest you freeze or chill the tart dough again for 20 minutes before baking, this helps the dough to not shrink.
Baking the tart shell
You have several options for baking the tart shell Most tarts hold a precooked filling and that means you need to fully bake the tart shell. You can also partially bake the unbaked tart shell when you need to add a filling that also needs to be baked. To learn about blind baking this post on How To Blind Bake Pie Crusts explains this process in full.
Step 13. Remove the chilled pastry dough from the freezer and with a fork poke the dough with the fork, up and down the bottom of the pastry. This is called docking and it lets steam escape from the bottom of the dough, so the dough doesn't puff up.
See Tip #4 - Make sure to place the tart pan on a baking sheet.
Step 14. Line the bottom and sides of the tart pan with parchment paper so there is a little overhang all around.
Step 15. Fill the tart shell with sugar/dried beans, rice, or lentils nearly to the top. Make sure to get into the corners. You do this to keep the shape of the dough as it bakes.
Step 16. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. To partially bake the tart shell bake for 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully scoop out the weights and gently remove the parchment paper, then return to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes. To fully bake the tart shell bake an additional 10 minutes.
Step 17. Once the tart shell is fully or partially baked add your favorite filling. At this point, the tart shell can be kept wrapped in plastic wrap or foil for several days before adding the filling.
Tip #1 - rolling the dough
Since this is a chocolate dough, I like to use cocoa powder to roll the dough in instead of flour. You can definitely use flour, but I don't care to see the white flour on my chocolate dough.
Tip #2 - the rolling mat
I get asked about what I roll my dough on, and it is a muslin rolling mat. I keep one for plain dough, and one for chocolate dough.
Tip #3 - the baking pan
If you do not have a tart pan, just use a pie plate. It will work too!
Tip #4 - Put the pan on a baking sheet
Since tart pans have a removable bottom, if you happen to pick the pan up with your hand under the bottom you could lift the pie crust up too. Trust me, this happens!!! Set the tart pan on a baking sheet to move it from the counter to the oven to avoid having a tart disaster.
The tart pans
My favorite nonstick rectangle tart pan is 14 x 4.5 inches with a removable bottom and makes an extra-long tart for a pretty presentation.
I love how sturdy this round nonstick 9.5" tart pan is with a removable bottom. It makes tart-making easy.
Pastry crust FAQs
Yes. You can freeze the unbaked tart shell, or you can freeze the baked tart shell. Wrap in plastic wrap then wrap in foil and freeze for up to three months.
This really is a necessary step to ensure that the dough relaxes and it helps prevent the dough from shrinking.
For a shortcrust tart, the dough needs to be at least blind-baked before adding a filling. This seals the pastry dough and keeps it from getting soggy from the wet filling.
They do seem similar but there is a difference. The recipes for tart crust usually contain flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and sometimes cream and bake up with a crispy shell. Pie crusts are usually just flour, butter, and water, and once baked the crust is very flaky.
Chocolate Shortbread Tart Crust
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- When ready to bake heat the oven to 350°
- Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl mix the egg yolk, and one tablespoon of the cream together.
- Cut the butter into small dice and add to the flour mixture and toss to coat the butter with the flour.
- Add the beaten egg yolk mixture to the bowl and using a pastry blender or two knives cut in the butter and yolk into the flour until a soft dough starts to form. At this point, the dough will look a bit crumbly.
- Turn the dough onto a rolling mat and lightly knead to bring the dough together. Form into a rectangle shape or a round shape depending on the type of pan, and wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
- To roll out the dough: Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. Lightly sprinkle cocoa powder on a rolling mat, or use flour, and then sprinkle the top of the dough with a little cocoa powder or flour.Roll the dough for a round tart pan into a 12-inch (30cm) circle for a 9-inch or 10-inch pan. For a 14 x 4-inch rectangle tart pan roll the dough into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle.
- Next, gently roll the dough up around the rolling pin and then unroll the dough over the tart pan. Lift the excess dough from the sides to fill the bottom of the pan. Work your fingers around the pan to press the dough in the bottom and the side.
- Using a fork, prick holes in the bottom of the crust.
- Take the rolling pin and roll it over the top of the tart pan to remove the excess dough. If you have excess cocoa powder or flour brush it away with a pastry brush. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm, about 20 minutes. Freezing the dough makes it less likely it will shrink during baking.
- Note: This dough is fairly soft and if you want feel free to press it into the tart pan. I prefer the rolling pin method that makes the dough nice and smooth.
How to blind bake the tart dough
- Heat the oven to 350° and place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet so it will be easier to move the pan around without touching the removable bottom.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper bigger than the tart pan and press it onto the dough bottom and sides, with some parchment overhanging the sides. Fill the tart shell with sugar/dried beans/uncooked rice, making sure they’re fully distributed over the entire surface
- Partially bake the tart for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently scoop or spoon the sugar/dried beans/uncooked rice out of the tart shell and then gently remove the parchment paper. Let the tart cool completely before filling.
- Fully bake the tart dough by following the above steps, and after you remove the weights, bake for another 10 minutes. Let the dough totally cool before adding the filling.
- Once the tart shell is fully or partially baked add your favorite filling. At this point, the tart shell can be kept wrapped in plastic wrap or foil for several days before adding the filling.
- After you form the dough into a disk, wrap the dough in plastic wrap then place it in a freezer bag, and freeze for up to three months. To use, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator then roll as directed.
- You can also roll the dough and fill the tart pan with the dough and freeze this. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap then cover with foil and put it in a freezer bag and freeze for up to three months. To bake, let sit on the counter while the oven is heating, then bake as directed.
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory family-friendly recipes for your cooking and baking inspiration.