Caramel Tart with Walnuts (Tarte au caramel et noix)

I know I have been repeating how much I hate excessively sweet desserts and this is true with everything apart from caramel. Hereby I admit I have a weakness for the soft, sticky, chewy, horribly sweet caramel and its close cousin called “dulce de leche”. Maybe it works as an exception proving the rule or maybe the sweetness goes so far, it no longer counts as a very sweet dessert… Whatever the reason, I cannot resist a chocolate filled with caramel and desserts such as millionaire’s shortbread can disappear in no time at all (by the way, Charles from Five Euro Food has a very seductive recipe here). This Caramel Tart with Walnuts is one of the best examples of highly addictive, sickeningly sweet treats I adore.

Caramel Tart is one of these French desserts I have never seen in a bakery or pastry shop, in a restaurant and I have never found it in any cookery book. Before posting the recipe I even had to check if it wasn’t only my family’s recipe, but I admit some French blog feature similar tarts. This extremely simple, basic, two-ingredient tart, sometimes enriched by walnuts can be prepared with the ingredients I suppose most French families (and not only) have constantly at home. It is a crunchy, buttery, very sweet, sticky and irresistible dessert.

“Simple” doesn’t always mean “easy” and I have experienced several huge failures before I asked advice from a kind family member, was instructed on how to avoid them  (and will always be extremely grateful for this!), the main difficulty consisting in stopping the pastry case from raising and not letting the caramel mixture flow under the case (see below). Luckily, even if anything of the above happens, the tart might not look presentable, but still is a pure delight.

Preparation: about 1 hour

Ingredients (for one 28 cm diameter tart):

1 butter-based shortcrust or puff pastry sheet (thinly rolled out)

180 g (about 1 3/4 cup) caster sugar

300 ml (about 10 oz) liquid cream (at least 25 % fat content)

(10 – 20 chopped walnut kernels)

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

In a bowl combine the sugar with the cream.

Grease a tart baking dish or line it with baking paper.

Lay the pastry sheet on a flat surface and prick it thoroughly but delicately with a fork trying not to pierce it (otherwise the cream and sugar mixture will go under the crust).

Line the tart dish with the pastry sheet, the pricked side downwards.

Pour the mixture of cream and sugar.

Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake for about 1 hour until the filling becomes light brown. (Cover the tart’s sides with aluminium foil if it is too dark and the filling too light).

Let it cool down and serve.




70 Replies to “Caramel Tart with Walnuts (Tarte au caramel et noix)”

  1. It looks quite simple with few ingredients but as you say there could be surprises. I have never eaten this though I’ve heard a lot about it. The American pecan pie seems to a bit similar, I think, but I haven’t tried that either. I think I will attempt this in the near future.
    I’ve made millionaires shortbread with dulce de leche – they are awesome. This tart would be similar – the base is like shortbread with caramel filling, minus chocolate.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. For me pecan pie is totally different. First, the crust is very thick. Second, the -also very thick- filling contains (from my American cookbooks) eggs, butter and lots of pecans and frankly I hated it every time I had it (and also my family who loves this tart). I think it was too thick and too sweet without the lightness and chewiness of this tart… What I love about all the French tarts is their thin crust and the fact that even if they have a very rich filling, they taste lighter and more delicate than any pie in the world. The crispiness of a French shortcrust has nothing to do with the pie’s one because it’s less than 1/2 cm thick.
      You are totally right: this tart is like a thin-based millionaire’s shortcake without chocolate (actually I have once made a millionaire’s tart; it was too ugly to present here, but fantastic).

      1. That makes sense, I cannot imagine a pie in the US having a very thin crust, not so much filling and light overall! Its not the ‘American way’:) I hope no Americans are reading this and getting offended:)

        1. Mr. Three-Cookies, I hope not only Americans, but all those who prefer thicker pie crust and higher filling will not feel offended… I have talked about my admiration for the French desserts and pastry so many times, I can imagine some people disagree. Although I am happy to find jewels in every country’s sweet cuisine (like ANZAC biscuits 😉 )

          1. Thick crust and high filling makes me think of Chicago deep dish pizza:)
            Here most pizzerias have regular pizzas (thin crust) and a section on the menu titled ‘American style pizzas’ with thicker crust!

            1. The first time I ever had a ‘deep dish’ pizza in Canada (~30 yrs ago) it was square and called “Sicilian style” pizza so I don’t think you can blame Americans for the invention though it’s possible that pizza restaurants in Chicago adopted the style as their own. 🙂

            2. I have only Italian pizzerias here (lots of Italians and people with Italian origins), so I have almost forgotten what the American style pizza looks like 😉

  2. Hi Sissi!

    I defently dont know how a caramel tart with walnuts tastes like. hadnt seen this either, but I can tell u that my eyes are already popping out by looking at your little wonder. plus it sounds easy enough to make. gotta save yur caramel walnut tarte for a future try out.

    Did u have a nice weekend?

    1. Thank you, Karen. Yes, you just combine the two ingredients and pour them raw onto the raw pastry sheet. It is very simple indeed, but sometimes can be very capricious.

  3. I’m with you on excessively sweet desserts … just thinking of it makes me cringe. I’m also not a fan of the pecan pie. I find it to be too cloyingly sweet. This seems sweet as well but the thought of the very light puff pastry, flaky and not so dense as a shortbread or shortcrust makes it definitely more attractive to my palate.

    1. Thank you, Ping. It is so thin I hardly feel I had a slice… Also the pastry case is not sweet, so it makes a kind of savoury tart crust with a thin layer of sticky caramel…

  4. Dear Sissi!
    You are not fair!
    How can you dare post such a simple and sophisticated dessert that I have little hope to find here in Japan? LOL
    Alright, get ready for my revenge!

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Robert-Gilles. I’m sure, if not you, your talented wife would make it in no time at all 🙂
      I’m waiting for the revenge (although most of your posts could pass as a revenge: all the delicacies I cannot even dream of tasting).

  5. Sissi, hope you had a great weekend! Like you, I am not a big fan of super sweet desserts, though from your description of the taste and texture of this tarte, I can imagine how much I would LOVE the combination! (Pecan pie is a must have at our house every holiday season, and Texas is pretty famous for it… I assume your tarte would taste similar, yum!)

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. I hope you have had a nice weekend too! If you like pecan pie, then probably you wouldn’t consider this tart as very sweet (for me pecan pie is way too sweet). This is much thinner and feels much lighter than the pecan pie.

  6. Who wouldn’t become weak on this irresistible caramel recipe of yours, Sissi? I know for sure I would succumb to this Caramel Tart if you put it in front of me. Have a wonderful week, Sissi!

    ~ ray ~

  7. I’m a sucker for caramel as well but have never seen it prepared like this. I’ll have to give this a try in a few months when I’ve finalize my body for the coming of spring. 🙂

    1. If you like caramel, you would love this tart I think. I would love to be as strong as you and wait a couple of months…

  8. By liquid cream, do you mean whipping cream that hasn’t been whipped?

    This does look like a very rich, and sweet dessert but you can probably treat yourself with a piece every once in a while.

    1. I wouldn’t call it rich. Very sweet, yes, but not rich. It’s not as rich as the American pecan pie for example and in terms of calories it is lighter than most cakes, mainly because both the pastry crust and the filling layer are very thin, so portions are smaller in terms of fat and sugar too (not to mention the carbs). In short, I feel less guilty with it than with a slice of chocolate cake 😉
      By liquid cream I mean simply liquid cream, not the thick crème fraîche which would probably curdle. Any fat content will do (apart from the skimmed cream of course).

    2. I have updated the post, precising the fat content. I always use 25% cream, which is the lowest fat content for “standard” cream here, but these things are different everywhere.

      1. That’s why I asked. In Canada, you can’t find creme fraiche anywhere but whipping cream (35%), and half and half (18%) fat are readily available.

  9. Sissi, consider you are lucky that this is only exception. I love all kinds of sweets (and I’m afraid of getting used to American “sweet” level compared to Asian sweets – but I still prefer less sweet) and there is no way for me to make any exception! Oh this sounds very easy, but I bet I’d eat the entire batch myself. I bought laceys (caramel and chocolate thin crisp thing – forgot the name) the other day, and I finished 1/3 of (huge) box. I will suffer from this consequence soon. We really need to walk together Sissi. Ready to move to SF yet? =D

    1. Nami, I have just checked laceys’ photos and they look gorgeous! The top layer looks very similar to my tart’s filling, so I am sure I would finish them very quickly too. Yes, we really need to walk together!

  10. the tart sounds fab, esp love the layers and how simple it is to make. I actually am not a fan of very sweet things too. When I make desserts, my roommate who has an awfully sweet tooth always say they aren’t sweet enough, but to me, they taste just right, so I don’t even trust my own judgement of sweets and desserts. I think everyone has a soft spot for something sweet though, for me, that’s gula melaka (unrefined deep dark palm sugar), and good raw honey!

  11. Oh Sissi, this looks *so* delightful… I have to say, you and Charles do make seductive and tantalizing desserts… your pies are always gorgeous Sissi! I can absolutely picture caramel and walnut together but have never attempted to make caramel…simple but deceptive… how intriguing, I must try! Besides, as you say, even if it doesn’t turn out picture perfect, I have a sneaking suspicion that your recipe would still be positively delicious! (it’s 8:10 pm here, and I have a serious craving for your pie!! :)).

  12. Dear Sissi,

    I’m glad I’ve found someone who dislikes overly sweet desserts like myself.

    Notwithstanding this tart looks really “presentable”, I love your plate because it reminds me of some really beautiful Japanese style cockery that spells elegance and simplicity.

    1. I think there is more of us than we think 😉 Thank you for the compliment!
      I’m happy you like the plate: I love it and as you say it’s Japanese. I have bought it in my Japanese grocery shop. They have lots of tempting plates and bowls. I think most of their designs are so simple and elegant, they suit any house interior and most dishes look beautiful.

  13. This is a French dessert? I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere!! How interesting to know. I find the French often eschew very sweet things like this for, either, apple-based stuff, or very arty things like the Opera cake. This seems like something I used to eat as a child, but with a slightly different filling – how fun to know there is a French version like this! It looks truly delicious – sweet, and sticky and wonderful. I think pecan nuts might go with this really well! Thanks for sharing this wonderful tart(e!) Sissi, and thanks for the mention too!

    1. Thank you so much, Charles. As I said, it’s not a tart that can be found in pastry shops or restaurants, so you might only stumble upon it at a family table (I think). My bakery shop makes lots of differents tarts though. (Not this one).
      Have you really eaten something similar as a child? It’s not the breadcrumbs pie…?
      I still have to make a presentable version of your millionaire’s shortbread. I was so furious I couldn’t take photos of this absolute delight!

      1. Breadcrumb’s Pie? Is that the thing called “Gypsy Pie”, or sometimes “Treacle Tart”? I was thinking of that in fact. It’s very sweet… the sugar is cooked so much is sticky and stringy, like a wonderful light caramel, and sometimes served with nuts in too… Mmm, now I have an urge to eat it again 😀

        1. Treacle tart! Thank you, Charles. I made it twice and it was way too sweet and the breadcrumbs were too present alas making it “stuffy”. Maybe I had wrong recipes…

          1. Oh, it’s definitely very sweet, but the breadcrumbs shouldn’t be too apparent. Ideally they should be unnoticeable. I’ll try to make it……… one day.

        2. By the way, I have forgotten to say that, talking about, French homely cakes difficult to find in shops, the Far Breton I posted I think two weeks ago is one of them. It can be found only in Brittany I think (I have never seen it sold anywhere else, but it is baked at home in many regions now). It is one of the most frequent desserts I have and I adore it. Have you ever had it?

          1. I can’t say I’ve tried it before. To be honest, I was losing “hope” in French desserts. I’m not a fan of these really rich types of cake, nor do I find the very simple “pastry shell, with apples layered on top thinly” particularly good. It’s really nice to see this new facet of the cuisine…

            1. Charles, far breton is not rich at all! (At least compared to floury cakes like pound cake etc.). It’s one of the lightest cakes I know, this is why I often make it.
              Frankly, I cannot agree with you. For me French desserts are the best in the world. Luckily there are exceptions in some other cuisines, but if I had to choose only desserts of one nation, I wouldn’t hesitate. Do you go to good pastry shops? Very simple desserts like “tarte fine aux fruits” have to be really very well made. They are very easy to spoil. Not very difficult though: the apple tart with apple sauce is one of the best tarts I have ever made. It was so sophisticated, I was really surprised (not my recipe so I can boast!): simple, but complex. Do you go sometimes to buy cakes or tarts at Pierre Hermé’s? Dalloyau? Other famous patissiers? Apart from the very complicated things like macarons, chocolates or other famous pastries, they have absolutely delightful traditional cakes, tarts etc.. I envy you so much being so close to such places!

              1. I will admit that it’s rare that I visit “good” cake shops. So bored am I of the dismal offerings in so many places (although I do love a good palmier!!) that I just gave up and prefer to make the things I love myself.

                Among some disappointments I’ve had: Something called a “figuier”, which would imply having fig in it, no? It was a load of dry cake crumbs, mashed together with something to bind it, maybe a light syrup, encased in almond paste, in the shape of a fig… that was it.

                Another time, I had, what looked like, a delicious, moist slice of chocolate cake, lightly dusted with sugar. Instead, it turned out to be so dry it couldn’t be eaten, and the reason it was dusted with sugar was because the top was burnt to charcoal.

                🙁 I’ll try to visit these places more… let’s hope for the best!

                1. Charles, I see you have had really bad experience, but I remember similar ones in some anonymous pastry shops or bakers in certain Paris districts. I tasted several awful éclairs, inedible macarons, disgusting opéra… and then decided to eat only in famous places and/or advised by friends (who like good food, because it’s important too!). If you like éclairs, the best I have ever tasted were in Maison du Chocolat (which unfortunately doesn’t make as good chocolates as Pierre Hermé or some Swiss chocolatiers I know). If someone wakes me up in the middle of the night and says “Pierre Hermé”, I would cry “macarons”, because his macarons have almost made me cry when I tasted them for the first time. I stopped buying Ladurée since then. His chocolate cake seems very simple but is a pure delight too. Dalloyau makes apparently the best St Honoré in Paris (it was delicious, but the only one I have ever tasted 😉 ). I don’t remember more names, but I’ve heard there are many new patissiers who make excellent job… I must go to Paris more often!
                  You know, for me finding a good baguette in Paris (or anywhere else in France) is not obvious either!
                  I hope you have the occasion to taste some Paris famous delights soon! Next time I come to Paris we must taste something together 🙂

                  1. Almost crying from macarons? lol… these I have to try! 😀

                    I think we should definitely eat some good cake together sometime… You can show me the location of the finest cakes, and I’ll try and persuade you to eat a steak from maison de l’aubrac! 😀

                    1. Yes, I really liked Ladurée’s macarons before but when I tasted his macaron I thought it was an experience comparable to the first time I had foie gras.
                      Haha! Will I have the right to have it raw? 😉 Did you know Aubrac cows have very beautiful eyes with looooong lashes?

                  2. >first time I had foie gras

                    Oh yeah – it’s like eating pure meaty butter isn’t it? I don’t like the production methods though, so I try to only eat it when I can find “ethically produced” foie gras… which isn’t common (and also not as good, because it’s not as fatty), but still…… nom nom.

                    >Did you know Aubrac cows have very beautiful eyes with looooong lashes
                    I did actually – they are a beautiful breed, looking like a typical cow called “Daisy” or “Clover” from a cartoon, however, for all their beauty, they’re also delicious 😀 (and no… raw, forbidden!, but if you really, really want, you can just ask them to show it to the grill and serve it to you :D) – served with their aligot, it’s a life-changing experience!

                    1. Charles, when I have foie gras I turn into a cruel carnivore, but of course I would never have the industrially produced one only free-range. Not only it is extremely painful for ducks, but simply the taste is bad.

  14. I love this tart…thin crust topped with caramel and nuts…it sure sounds and looks delicious, it would be great with a cup of tea.
    Hope you are having a fabulous week Sissi 🙂

    1. Robert-Gilles, thank you so much for such a quick answer! You are a magician 🙂 I’m hopping to your blog!

  15. Wow, Sissi this looks very straight-forward to make, yet oh so delicious. I’m crazy about all things caramel. I could see myself making this for company when I want to impress — so it’ll be our secret how easy it is (hopefully!) I had a peak at Charles’ recipe and it reminds me that I must try to make my own dulce de leche one day. I’ve been buying it at one of our big chain groceries, but now it is discontinued!

    1. Thank you so much, Barb. Simplicity and great flavours are what I look for in both savoury and sweet recipes. Unfortunately this is not always easy to find…

  16. Wow! What a great dessert. I just love caramel desserts and walnuts and caramel go so well together. Caramel is one of my favourite treats – I even used to order caramel milkshakes from the milk bar when I was growing up – can’t get enough of it. Great recipe Sissi!

    1. Thank you, Charlie. I also love caramel and as I said it’s the only very sweet thing I am addicted to.

  17. Oh.. Sissi this tart looks really delicious!!!
    I have never tasted this combination before but reading through the recipe I can bet this taste divine!!
    I too don’t like overly sweet dessert but with that being said I love desserts 😉
    Beautiful my friend!!!

  18. Sissi, what a good idea pricking the pastry and turning it over. I don’t often eat pies even though I make them by the dozens – for others. However I cannot resist these types of French tarts, sweet or tart doesn’t matter to me. Have you thought of sprinkling it with salt before the caramel cools down? I always sprinkle the bittersweet chocolate topping of my millionaires shortbread with salt and it not only cuts down on the sweetness, it actually enhances the flavour.

    1. Thank you so much, Zsuzsa. The pricking trick is the advice from a member of my family… I don’t want to say pies are not good, but there is something elegant and also lighter about thin French tarts… Moreover, a slice of a French tart must have half the fat and the calories of an American pie (or less!) and this is something I appreciate too.
      I totally agree about salt! I love salty caramel and sometimes put salt in the mixture before spreading it on the tart. I also like salt in my chocolate cake (I make it with salted butter quite often). The two times when I made millionaire’s shortbread (unfortunately it was too ugly to post the photo) I have put salt to dulce de leche layer too.

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