Bittersweet Chocolate Shortbread Tarts With Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

bittersweet chocolate shortbread tarts | the vanilla bean blog
I have a thing for this bittersweet chocolate filling; I used it for years when I baked professionally, and find myself turning to it often when I need an upgraded dessert. I have a similar recipe for it here (which I had forgotten about until after I made and photographed these, of course), and I’m not sure which version I prefer. The shortbread crust is rich and pairs nicely with the smooth chocolate, and the brown sugar whipped cream makes each bite of these chocolate shortbread tarts a dreamy affair.
bittersweet chocolate shortbread tarts | the vanilla bean blog
bittersweet chocolate shortbread tarts | the vanilla bean blog

bittersweet chocolate shortbread tarts | the vanilla bean blog
My brother and (almost) sister-in-law came over this weekend, and I took some ‘save the date’ photos for them. Now that Cassie is part of the family, she finds herself roped into helping me with photos here as well (my sister and brother-in-law finally get a break). Martha Stewart Living sent me some pieces of from the Stockholm Indigo Collection (from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy’s) to highlight, and Cassie willingly put on an apron and held some tarts for me. She’s a keeper.

bittersweet chocolate shortbread tarts | the vanilla bean blog

bittersweet chocolate shortbread tarts with brown sugar whipped cream

The chocolate filling is adapted from The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer. Makes enough for one 9-inch tart (to make eight 4-inch tartlets, you will need to double the shortbread crust recipe).
Sarah Kieffer
4.67 from 3 votes
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shortbread crust

  • 1 ½ cups 213g all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup 50g sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter cold and sliced into thin slices (about 14 slices)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

chocolate filling

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

brown sugar whipped cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream chilled
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt


for the shortbread crust

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter pieces one at time, and mix until the butter is incorporated and resembles coarse sand. Add the heavy cream and vanilla, and mix until the dough comes together and starts to form a ball.
  • Using your hands, press about two-thirds of the dough into the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the remaining dough into the fluted sides of the pan. Press and smooth dough with your hands to an even thickness. Place the tart pan in the freezer and freeze the dough until firm, 20-30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350, and adjust an oven rack to the middle position.
  • Line the chilled tart shell with parchment paper, covering the edges to prevent burning. Fill the center of the pie with pie weights.
  • Bake for 14-16 minutes, until the crust is light golden brown. Remove the parchment and the beans. Bake for 2-3 more minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly while preparing the filling.

for the chocolate filling

  • In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Remove it from the heat and add the bittersweet chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is completely melted and is perfectly smooth. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the tart shell. Bake until the center seems set but is still quivery when the pan is nudged, 15-18 minutes. Remove the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the tart cool.

for the whipped cream

  • At least ten minutes before whipping the cream, place the bowl and whisk attachment you will be using in the freezer, and let chill. Add the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt to the chilled mixer bowl, place on the stand mixer, and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • Beat the cream on low speed for 30-45 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and continue beating, about 30-45 more seconds. Increase speed to high and continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly double in volume, another 30 seconds to a minute. The whipped cream can be made two hours ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

bittersweet chocolate shortbread tarts | the vanilla bean blog

  • Reply
    Saturday, October 31, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    4 stars
    Hi Sarah, just wanted to tell you that I’ve discovered this recipe two years ago and since then this is my recipe to go for my friends chocolate lovers! My friend’s daughter adores it! Thank you so much for this amazing chocolatey-rich, not-too-sweet dessert! ??

  • Reply
    Friday, December 20, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    Can these be made ahead and frozen?

  • Reply
    Tuesday, November 6, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    5 stars
    I made these and they are DELICIOUS, so good! Since my oven isn’t the best I think I let the crust cook a bit too long but I know better for next time 🙂

    Your recipes are wonderful and thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Monday, February 15, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    I’m a big food blog follower. I love yours and Cooking With Mr. C. Thanks for all you do.

  • Reply
    Shelly @ Vegetarian 'Ventures
    Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Jealous of all the family helpers you have! I could eat anything that is wedged into shortbread but this chocolate sounds especially delicious!

  • Reply
    Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek
    Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 6:28 am

    That apron is gorgeous! And so are these tarts! I seriously can’t wait to try these babies out 🙂 xoxo

  • Reply
    June @ How to Philosophize with Cake
    Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 5:55 am

    That bittersweet chocolate filling does look amazing! Especially paired with the shortbread crust, sounds delish 🙂

  • Reply
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    These are so pretty looking! I love that they are individual sizes rather than one big one.

  • Reply
    Kara | Sorghum and Starch
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    These tarts are so lovely, Sarah!

  • Reply
    Allison from Sunshine in the Kitchen
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    5 stars
    First of all, that Cassie is gorgeous!

    Secondly, now that I know you baked professionally, it’s all falling into place. (A little slow on the uptake over here!)

    Thirdly, this tart is right up my alley and omg I must make this RIGHT NOW.

    Always love visiting you!


  • Reply
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Mmm mmm pure chocolate goodness! Love the recipe!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Farley
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Perfect for Valentine’s Day <3

  • Reply
    Linda Mueller
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Cannot wait to try them. And as usual, your photography is amazing!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 9:07 am

    These look lovely and perfect for Valentine’s! And how great is that to have another willing model for your photos…she’s definitely a keeper! ; )

  • Reply
    Amanda Hollingworth
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Why oh why do people put recipes in cup measurements ?…arghhh!
    It looks great a kind of ganche filling but I hate guesstimating when I bake, the rest of the time I wing it, but it doesn’t cut the mustard with baking..what is a cup of cream?
    Please 🙂
    It looks fabby!

  • Reply
    anna @ annamayeveryday
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 5:15 am

    Don’t those look delicious, creamy, rich, crumbly – perfect!

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