Today I am sharing with you the perfect Chocolate Pâte Sablée recipe, one of my favourite French pastries! I just love tartlets, and as fancy as they look, actually they are totally doable to make at home. You might refer to this kind of pastry as shortcrust, sweet short pastry, sweet tart crust, or simply a tart shell. No matter how you prefer to call it, this tart crust recipe it is one of the basics in the French pastry world that is totally worth mastering as a home baker to create professional looking beautiful pastries.
Pâte Sablée is a delicious, buttery shortcrust, sweet but not too sweet melt in the mouth pastry shell that turns desserts into fancy French patisserie like goodness. No matter where you live in the world, a bit into these wonderful tarts will instantly take you to Paris! This Chocolate Pâte Sablée recipe works perfectly as a tart shell, very easy to fill and super versatile, or you can make sable cookies out of the dough! Let´s get started!
What is a tart?
A tart is a freestanding shallow open-faced pastry, often baked in a tart ring with fluted or straight sides. Smaller tarts are referred to as tartlets. Tarts can be filled with a variety of creams; Chocolate tart, Caramel tart, Fruit tart, Frangipane tart... the variations are endless. Some refer to Pâte Sablée as sable cookie, sweet short pastry, sweet tart crust, sweet shortcrust or simply tart shell.
The sweet tart crust recipe contains only a few basic ingredients – butter, sugar, egg, flour and cocoa powder - yet can turn desserts into fancy French patisserie style goodness! There are two important factors you have to take into considerations when making Chocolate Pâte Sablée; 1. Understanding and learning the right technique and 2. Having the right equipment. In this tutorial I will take you through step-by-step on both so you can master making Chocolate Pâte Sablée at home!
What is Pâte Sablée?
Pâte Sablée is a French sweet pastry dough that is used to make classic delicious French dessert such as a fruit tart, lemon tart, chocolate tart etc. Unlike flaky pie crust (my recipe in here) this is more crispy and biscuit like. The sweet tart crust (shortcrust) recipe contains only a few basic ingredients – like butter, sugar and flour - and this one cocoa powder too. The process involves baking the tart shell separately then filling it with your favorite fillings. Please note that my Chocolate Pâte Sablée recipe is made without blind baking - see my detailed baking tips below.
Looking for a base Pâte Sablée recipe recipe without cocoa powder? Check my tutorial in here.
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers making Chocolate Pâte Sablée French tart
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking. A recipe alone not able to call out all the details that you need to pay attention to while baking therefore most of my recipes contain important information about ingredients and technique
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. In general, replacing egg, using gluten-free flour etc. will all have an impact on baking this chocolate sable cookie recipe and I am not able to give substitutes here
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method if you want consistent results
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking Chocolate Pâte Sablée tartlets
Some important notes regarding the INGREDIENTS of this Chocolate Pâte Sablée, sweet shortcrust recipe
- Flour: I am using pastry flour for this chocolate tart shell recipe, feel free to use AP if can’t find pastry flour in your local supermarket. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
- Almond: Some Pâte Sablée recipes contain almond, some don’t, I prefer mine with some almond flour in it from taste and texture point of view. It is worth to buy good quality ground almond, without skin. You can replace with equal amount of flour
- Cocoa powder: Cocoa powder will make this into a wonderful Chocolate Pâte Sablée! Always use unsweetened, 100% cocoa powder in baking. I use dutch-process cocoa powder, it has a lovely dark colour and it is lower in acidity
- Sugar: This chocolate sweet pastry dough is made with icing sugar. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most of the dessert recipes. Balances flavour and enhances other ingredients especially chocolate desserts. This is a sweet tart dough and I just love that extra very mild salty kick at the end
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. While in most of the recipes butter needs to be on room temperature, this is an exception and very chilled butter is absolutely non negotiable. Butter needs to be properly chilled, which means take the butter out of the fridge, cut into cubes then place it into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before using it
- Egg: Room temperature as always
As you can see Chocolate Pâte Sablée is a super simple recipe in terms of the ingredients. The secret behind making beautiful, neat and delicious tart crust is all about mastering the technique, understanding how temperature plays in role while working with the dough and using the right equipment.
6 tips regarding the TECHNIQUE of making this
Chocolate Pâte Sablée recipe
1. Creaming or Crumbling method is better to make sweet shortcrust
There are 2 main methods in the pastry chefs’ world making tart shell; one is creaming, the other is crumbling. With creaming method the butter is on room temperature and first needs to be creamed with icing sugar then you mix in the rest of the ingredients.
In case of crumbling method, first you mix the dry ingredients (flour, almond flour, cocoa powder, salt) then add in very cold butter in cubes. Then, you need to rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a “crumbly” = sand like consistency before adding in egg. The dough will come together in literally few minutes. Do not use mixer.
I am sharing the crumbling method with you in this Chocolate Pâte Sablée recipe, which is my preference for one single reason; as the butter used while it’s very cold, overall it makes the shortcrust dough cooler meaning easier to work with. And that brings us to the next important topic.
2. The importance of temperature while making Chocolate Pâte Sablée tartlet
When I started experimenting with baking, I had several disastrous attempts making tart shell. Now I understand that the one and only reason I failed was me being inpatient and forcing the dough even when its temperature was inappropriate.
Baking is science and in general temperature is one of the most important factors to understand AND utilise for our benefit. When I say temperature I don’t purely mean baking temperature but also the environment we work e.g kitchen temperature as well as the dough temperature.
While making sweet tart crust, temperature is everything! If the Chocolate Pâte Sablée dough is too hot, it’s sticky and can’t be rolled out or shaped. If too cold, it will easily break. The entire tart making process is a balancing exercise between keeping the dough cold enough but not too cold.
To give you a concrete example, in a home kitchen environment on a warmer day this practically means taking the dough in and out of the freezer about 15 times in between steps to ensure the dough is always on the right temperature to work with. Yes, not just to chill once or twice but to be in control of the dough temperature all the time! Obviously in professional kitchens temperature as well as humidity is under control and the rolling process is done by a machine, however in home environment this is something we have to be super careful with.
3. What is blind baking and how to avoid it
Baking blind is the process of baking a pie crust without the filling. It’s done by lining the unbaked tart or pie shell with parchment paper and filling with baking bean. Frankly, it’s a half solution only and while it certainly prevents the crust from puffing up while it bakes, it does not provide even baking. Blind making makes the tart crust somewhat unappealing, full of wrinkles as I call it and baked uneven. My Chocolate Pâte Sablée recipe DOES NOT involve blind baking and that brings us to the next important topic, the equipment.
4. What equipment is needed to make this chocolate tart case recipe
You can achieve neat, visually appealing tart crust by using professional baking equipment. Luckily these are available to purchase on Amazon not just for professionals but also for home bakers. If you want to make beautiful, patisserie style tarts it’s worth to invest into a perforated baking mat, a couple of perforated tart rings and a silicon mat.
Silicone baking mat
I recommend using 2 Silicone baking mat for rolling the pastry dough out in between them. The recipe is designed in a way that you do not need to add extra flour while rolling the dough however it might stick to your kitchen counter so use silicone baking mat. It’s also possible to use 2 sheets parchment paper however the silicone mat provides a much neater, smooth surface. It can be washed and then used all the time so overall worth the investment. I am using the “Amazon basics” cheapest version so no need to buy anything expensive, find it here: Silicone baking mat
While rolling, start from the center of the disc and work your way out in all directions. Again remember, temperature is very important. If the dough is too cold, you won´t be able to roll it out. If too warm, it will be difficult to handle and will even stick to the silicone baking mat.
Perforated baking “air” mat
The air mat is perfect for baking this Chocolate Pâte Sablée tart crust but also éclairs or even cookies. Thanks to the holes in the mat, the heat spreads evenly throughout mats’ surface guaranteeing a perfect and even baking without blind baking. The dough won´t puff up while baking the tarts and will bake super neat and evenly.
While baking the tart shells, use the Perforated “air” baking mat straight on top of the oven rack (so not in a baking pan) so that the air can circulate properly. I have been using this product for more than a year now from a brand called Silikomart and loving it. Check it out in here: Perforated “air” baking mat
Perforated tart ring
The Perforated tart rings are non-stick and stainless, they allow homogeneous baking due to the even air circulation. It’s a a genius solution, isn’t it? Silikomart (and some other quality brands) offering the rings in various shapes and sizes, I am using a 8cm (3,14inch) diameter round version. As far as I can see there are several cheap copies of the initial Silikomart product, I am not sure though whether they are made of the same material and whether they work or not.
No need to grease the tart rings for this shortcrust recipe, the dough will stick to its side providing a very neat looking beautiful tart shell. I have been using my Perforated tart ring for over a year and it’s the best investment I have ever made.
I can not recommend it enough, it’s really one of those tools you have to invest in once and then will change your baking experience forever!
5. How to avoid tart shrinking while in the oven
Have you ever experienced shrinking, sad looking tartlets while baking? Again, 3 things to remember: temperature, technique and equipment.
In terms of temperature, you have to freeze the shortcrust dough in the baking rings before baking as that will ensure that the dough keeps its shape while baking. Also make sure your oven temp is correct, highly recommended to use a Digital oven thermometer.
In regards to technique, you must not force the dough while placing it into the tart rings. First cut the bottoms out with the help of the actual tart ring then out long strips – this will be the side of the tart shell. Make sure the side of the tart is carefully but firmly pressed onto the side of the Perforated tart ring so it won´t fall while baking. If it does (it should not), quickly open the oven door and press it back with your finger.
Last but not least, use the right equipment; while using Perforated tart ring, the dough somewhat sticks to the side of the ring as opposed to shrinking like in case of non-perforated rings. I would not bake tarts without my perforated tart rings!
6. Process of making this Chocolate Pâte Sablée shortcrust tart shell
Now that we covered all the important WHAT and WHY, let´s see how exactly to make sweet shortcrust for your favorite chocolate sable based tartlets.
- Make sure all ingredients are measured with Digital scale and prepare all the tools ahead:Rolling pin, Silicone baking mat, Perforated “air” baking mat, Perforated tart ring
- Place the measured butter cubes into the freezer for 5-10 minutes
- Sift together dry ingredients; flour, icing sugar, almond, salt, cocoa powder and mix so they are combined properly
- Add very cold butter cubes to dry ingredients and rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a sand like consistency. This will take about 3 minutes, make sure you do not spend too much time with this step as butter can easily warm up and that is something we want to avoid
- Add egg into the mixture and mix with your hands just until the dough comes together. First it might look crumbly but do not add more wet or dry ingredients to the recipe instead gently knead the dough with the palm of your hand for a minute or two (do not over knead and do not use mixer) just until the dough becomes smooth
- If the dough is too warm and sticky, place it into the fridge for 10-15 minutes first. Otherwise continue with rolling the dough out into 2mm thickness between two Silicone baking mat. The recipe quantity is designed in a way that once you roll the dough out it will reach the silicone baking mat from edge to edge
- Place the dough into the freezer for 10-15 min in between the two Silicone baking mat. Do not remove the mat at this point as the dough might stick to the mat while it is warm and it would break the dough
- Prepare your oven rack with the Perforated “air” baking mat and Perforated tart rings on top
- Take the dough sheet out from the freezer, remove the top of the silicone mat, and using one of the Perforated tart rings, cut out 8 circles – this will be the bottom of your Chocolate Pâte Sablée tart crust. Carefully move the dough circles with the help of an Offset spatula and place them into the rings one by one
- If at any point the dough gets too warm to work with, pop it back into the freezer for 5 minutes. You might need take the dough in and out of the freezer a lot of times but that is fine, don´t try to force the dough while it is warm. It is extremely important to work with a dough which is cold enough to be able to handle (so not sticky) but not too cold which would result in breaking it
- Cut 8 long stripes out of the dough, this will be the side of the tart
- Carefully place the stripes into the ring one by one. Press each stripe onto the side of the rings so it sticks to it. Again make sure you work with a Chocolate Pâte Sablée dough that is cold enough but not frozen as that would make impossible to place it into the tart ring without breaking it
- Place the Perforated tart ring with the pastry dough in them into the freezer for 1 hour
- Pre-heat oven to 160C / 320F
- After 1 hour take the pastry dough with the rings on them out and trim them with a sharp knife
- Bake for 20 min then carefully remove the rings. Once you take the tarts out of the oven wait for a minute or two for the pastry to somewhat contract within the ring then you will be able to easily remove the rings. If ring seems to stuck onto your pastry it means probably you will need to bake it for a few more minutes
- Once tart rings are removed, you will have to continue baking the Chocolate Pâte Sablée tarts for about another 10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet if necessary. Let them cool on the Perforated “air” baking mat before filling them
Recipes to use Pâte Sablée tart crust
Creamy Raspberry tart – This Raspberry tart recipe is an ideal balance between buttery, melt in your mouth shortcrust pastry and silky raspberry ganache with full of natural raspberry flavour
Triple Hazelnut nut with gold chocolate disk decoration – This Triple hazelnut tart recipe is a dream for hazelnut lovers but what makes it even more special is the gold chocolate disk decoration melted on top! Contrasting layers of melt in your mouth hazelnut Pâte Sablée tartlet shell, silky hazelnut ganache, crunchy hazelnut .. a super complex dessert experience that is much easier to make than it might sound!
Strawberry Pistachio tart – This Strawberry Pistachio tart consist of Pâte Sablée sweet shortcrust pastry filled with silky Pistachio ganache and topped with delicious fresh strawberries. Beautiful contrast of rich and nutty Pistachio ganache and refreshing fruit in a buttery, sweet but not too sweet melt in the mouth pastry shell.
Fig Frangipane tart – Pâte Sablée (sweet shortcrust) filled with a incredible delicious, easy almond cream (frangipane) and a slice of fig is what makes this tart a truly amazing autumn recipe! The Franginape tarts are sweet, fruity and nutty at the same time
Coffee tart – Pâte Sablée filled with Coffee ganache and decorated with cream that makes it effectively a Cappuccino Tart. A must make for Coffee lovers!
Caramelized banana & Caramel tart – This Caramelized banana and Caramel Tart is the perfect easy yet fancy dessert you can make at home and impress everyone ! The tart has 3 elements: Home made Pâte Sablée (sweet shortcrust) tart shell, 5 minutes caramelized banana layer, super quick and easy 3 ingredients caramel layer on top
Lemon meringue tart – This Lemon meringue tart recipe is a decorative, individual dessert version of the well know lemon meringue pie. I love how the sweet and silky Swiss meringue complements the tangy and creamy lemon curd
Passion fruit & Chocolate tart – If you have not tried pairing passion fruit and chocolate before, you are missing out, they are truly match made in heaven! Silky & rich chocolate ganache meets floral & tropical yet tangy passion fruit curd in this Chocolate Pâte Sablée tart shell!
Salted caramel & Chocolate tart – This Salted caramel chocolate tart is one of my favoruite tarts ever! Salted caramel and Chocolate are match made in heaven… It just tastes phenomenal as the buttery caramel with slight salty kick meets the silky chocolate ganache!
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RECIPE CARD - Chocolate Pâte Sablée, sweet short pastryPrint Pin Rate
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Sift together dry ingredients; flour, cocoa powder, icing sugar, almond, salt
- Add very cold butter cubes and rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a sand like consistency. This will take around a minute or two
- Add egg into the mixture and mix with your hands just until the dough comes together, few seconds
- Knead with the palm of your hand for a minute or two (do not over knead and do not use mixer) just until the dough becomes smooth. Form a disk and cover the dough in plastic wrap. Let it rest in the fridge for min 2 hours. You can leave it resting in the fridge over night or you can even freeze the dough
- After the dough rested roll it out into 2mm thickness between two Silicone baking mat. Do not use extra flour for rolling
- Place the dough into the freezer for 15 min in between two Silicone baking mat.. Do not remove the mat at this point
- If at any point the dough gets too warm to work with, pop it back into the freezer for 5 minutes. You might need take the dough in and out of the freezer 10-15 times. It is extremely important to work with a dough that is cold enough to be able to handle (so not sticky) but not too cold which would result in breaking it
- Cut 8 long stripes out of the dough, this will be the side of the tart
- Carefully place the stripes into the ring one by one. Press each stripe onto the ring so it sticks to it
- Place the Perforated tart rings with the pastry dough in them into the freezer for 2 hours
- Pre-heat oven to 160C / 320F
- After 2 hours take the pastry dough with the rings on them out and trim the top to the level of the tart ring with a sharp knife
- Bake for 20 min then carefully remove the rings and bake for another 5-10 min. Let them cool on the Perforated "air" baking mat