Dulce de Leche Swirled Tarts

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by Elizabeth LaBau at Foodie.com


Some people view Cinco de Mayo as a cultural celebration. Some folks use it as an excuse to get drunk in the middle of the week, or to shovel boatloads of chips and salsa into their bocas. At my house, we use it as an excuse to mainline dulce de leche. Whether it’s swirled into pound cake, used as a churro dipping sauce, or packed into chocolate candy cups–we’re officially dulce de leche obsessed.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Tart | SugarHero.com

There are a lot of different ways to prepare dulce de leche, but my favorite way to enjoy it is when it’s cooked until very thick, like peanut butter. If I’m not workin’ hard to get a scoop of dulce de leche on my finger, then I haven’t done it right. This extra-thick dulce de leche is a perfect cake and cupcake filling, brownie inclusion, or cookie topper. It’s also the star ingredient in these gorgeous Dulce de Leche Swirled Tarts.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Tart | SugarHero.comI typically scoff at the idea of soulmates, but I’m pretty sure that dulce de leche and chocolate are soulmates. Oh, and salt. Dulce de leche, chocolate, and salt are three-way soulmates, which is totally a thing when you’re talking about anthropomorphized ingredients. The chocolate and the salt keep the dulce de leche from becoming too cloying and sweet, while deepening the caramelized flavor. I keep intending to pair dulce de leche with other flavors in my desserts, but I love the DDL + chocolate combination so much, I can never resist putting them together once more.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Tart | SugarHero.com

These tarts start with a crisp chocolate shell that’s not too sweet, with a deep cocoa flavor.  But let’s be honest, no one is here for the tart shell. The filling is the star, and the filling is kind of brilliant, if I do say so myself. (And I certainly do…) The three different flavors are all based off of the same white chocolate ganache. After mixing it up and reserving some of the white chocolate, dulce de leche is whisked into the rest, creating a dulce de leche ganache. Then, a bit more of that is separated out, and dark chocolate is added to it, resulting in a dark chocolate-dulce de leche ganache. That’s a mouthful in more ways than one! So although there are 3 different flavors in the filling, they all come together in the space of about 10 minutes, after the dulce de leche has been cooked. It’s a sly trick that makes it easy to assemble these swirled beauties.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Tart | SugarHero.com

I am READY for May to be here. Bring on Cinco de Mayo! (And Seis de Mayo, and Siete de Mayo…) April has had its good moments, but it’s also been insanely busy and stressful, and the LaBau household is collectively tired and cranky. The other morning, Jason went to go get his shoes, but grabbed my heels instead and started to try to put them on. This is not okay. We need sleep, and down time, and our yearly dulce de leche gorging session.  Here’s to new months and old favorites! ¡Buen provecho, amigos!

Dulce de Leche Swirl Tart | SugarHero.com



Dulce de Leche Swirled Tarts
For this recipe, you will want to use dulce de leche that has a very thick texture, like peanut butter. Runny, liquid dulce de leche will make your tart filling too loose. The recipe below uses my favorite method for making dulce de leche, and there are a few alternative methods listed in the note at the bottom. Note that making dulce de leche will take hours, so ideally you should make it the day before you assemble the tarts. Store-bought dulce de leche can be used, provided it has the right texture.
Recipe type: Tart
Serves: 4
For the Chocolate Tart Dough:
  • 5⅓ oz (1¼ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
  • ¾ oz (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 oz very cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
For the Dulce de Leche Filling:
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 oz finely chopped white chocolate (do not use white chips if they list vegetable oil or palm oil as an ingredient. You want white chocolate that contains cocoa butter only!)
  • ½ cup +2 tbps heavy cream, divided use
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 oz (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2½ oz (about ⅓ cup) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
To Make the Chocolate Tart Dough:
  1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse briefly until everything is well-blended. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse until it is in small pea-sized pieces. Add the egg yolk and pulse in 5-second bursts until the dough starts clumping together.
  2. Turn it out of the food processor and knead it lightly several times to incorporate any extra flour and cocoa powder. At this point, the dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for several days. If you’re ready to use it now, spray four 6-inch removable bottom tart pans with nonstick cooking spray. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pans in a thin, even layer.
  3. Freeze the shells for 30 minutes, and while they’re in the freezer, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray the tops of the tart dough with nonstick spray, then press a sheet of foil into the shells and fill the foil with dry beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake the shells for 10-12 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and weights. Bake for an additional 7-8 minutes to fully bake the shells, until puffed, dry, and fragrant. Let the shells cool completely before filling them.
To Make the Dulce de Leche Filling:
  1. Remove the paper wrapper from the can of condensed milk. Place it in a slow cooker then fill it with water that comes an inch above the can. Set the slow cooker to low heat, cover it, and leave it to cook for 8-9 hours. (This can be done overnight, so that you wake up to dulce de leche!) Once cooked, carefully remove the can from the water and let it cool completely before proceeding.
  2. Place the finely chopped white chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour ½ cup of heavy cream into a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Pour the hot cream over the chopped white chocolate, and let it sit for 1 minute to soften the chocolate. After a minute, gently whisk the white chocolate and cream together until it is smooth and silky. If chunks of white chocolate remain, microwave the bowl in 10-second increments, whisking well after each one, until they are entirely melted. Finally, add the room temperature butter and salt and whisk them in.
  3. Separate out ½ cup of the white chocolate filling into a small bowl and set aside. To the remaining white chocolate, add the dulce de leche and whisk it in until smooth.
  4. Separate out ½ cup of the dulce de leche filling. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a small bowl, then mix the melted chocolate into the ½ c of dulce de leche. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of cream to thin out the chocolate mixture, if needed. You should now have a small bowl of chocolate dulce de leche filling, a small bowl of white chocolate filling, and a larger bowl of dulce de leche filling.
  5. Spoon the dulce de leche filling into the cooled tart shells, filling them about half full. Take a small spoon and dollop small spoonfuls of the 3 different fillings on top of a tart in a random pattern. Take a toothpick and swirl it through the filling to create a marbled pattern. Repeat with the remaining tarts. Depending on the height of your tart shells, you may be left with some excess filling. It is delicious on cookies, crackers, toast, or your fingers!
  6. Refrigerate the tarts until the filling is set, for about 1 hour. The tarts can be made in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. For the best taste and texture, let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving, so the filling is soft and silky.
If you don't have a slow cooker, you can also make dulce de leche on the stovetop. Place the can of condensed milk in a deep saucepan, and fill the pan with water so that the can is completely submerged. Bring the water to a simmer and allow it to simmer for 5 hours. Several times an hour, check the saucepan to make sure that the water is still covering the top of the can, and add water as necessary. After 5 hours, remove the can and let it cool completely before using it. This crust recipe was adapted from Dorie Greenspan's excellent book Baking: From My Home to Yours.


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53 Responses to Dulce de Leche Swirled Tarts
  1. Sara says:

    Is there a tart pan you recommend using for these? I love small tarts, but it’s hard to find the pans.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Sara! I bought my tart pans at a local kitchen supply store and I can’t tell what brand they are–I will tell you they’re not super fancy but they get the job done. They basically look like this–this isn’t where I ordered them from, but just so you know what type I’m talking about:


      I see that Amazon carries a number of small tart pans, mostly in the 4″ range. If that’s all you can find, then you can make this in 4″ shells, and you’ll probably get 6 tarts out of the recipe. I DEFINITELY prefer the kind with removable bottoms–I don’t even know why they make any other kind!

  2. I have a passion for Dulce de Leche – I recently mixed it with Vegemite, that’s how much I love it. Plus, as Liz Lemon would say, when you’re so tired your man is trying to wear your shoes, That’s a Dealbraker, Ladies!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Wait. You can’t just throw out a comment like “I mixed dulce de leche with Vegemite” and leave it like that without more explanation! I need details. And descriptions. And maybe diagrams or photos. How was it???

      Also, three stars for the Liz Lemon reference!

  3. Medeja says:

    The swirl makes this irresistible treat look even more irresistible!

  4. That tart is gorgeous!! And looks amazing- love the swirl :-)

  5. Faye says:

    You are still the queen of the swirl & my sugar hero! These look amazing!!

  6. Faye says:

    Wow! You are still the queen of the swirl & my sugar hero. These look amazing!!

  7. Joanne says:

    These look incredible! But I’m confused by the first step for the filling…and confusion on the first step doesn’t bode well… You actually submerge the can of condensed milk in water? Does the milk’s heavier weight keep it in the can, or is it supposed to mix with the water?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Joanne! The can is actually unopened during the step–the milk cooks in the can, in the hot water. Does that make sense? :)

  8. Oh my goodness! You are my sugar hero too.

  9. I am coming to your house for la fiesta! I just made dulce de leche last night in the oven and have been trying to decide what to make with it. I think I have just found it :). Nothing beats utterly thick and perfectly creamy dulce de leche. These tarts are stunning, Elizabeth!

    • Elizabeth says:

      You are so invited to my casa! I know you will come up with something amazing for that dulce de leche, can’t wait to see what it turns into!

  10. dina says:

    this looks amazing!

  11. Erika says:

    Are you even serious?!??! These look OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!! They are so beautiful and they sound incredibly delicious!!! I’m giving you a virtual standing ovation, my friend. So awesome!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Haha, thank you, Erika! Pretty sure this is my first internet standing ovation–feels awesome! ;)

  12. Oh.
    Girl. This is craziness. I always think your recipes couldn’t get any more beautiful or creative and then, BAM, you post this. Those swirls are so gorgeous! Pinned!

  13. Wait, what?! You can make dulce de leche in the slow cooker??? Heavens to betsy. I just fell in love with my crock a little bit more. And you. I fell in love with you a little bit more too. I will girl-crush on anyone who reveals a life changing secret like “over-night dulce de leche”. :D

    • Elizabeth says:

      I know, right?! I love it because I hate having to baby sit the pot of dulce de leche and keep topping up the water, this is literally the most mindless way to make it. Thanks Sara!

  14. […] dulche de leche tarts are […]

  15. Giselle says:

    I’m floored by how gorgeous these tarts are! Having a major drool moment!!!

  16. Jill says:

    These look so gorgeous! I am a crust lover, so the whole package sounds pretty delicious.

  17. […] Dulce de Leche Swirled Tarts – Just look at those photos. And read how into Elizabeth is into the dulce de leche. I want to be there. (Please someone tell me you get my Liz Lemon reference right there). How can you not want one (or two)?! […]

  18. Liz says:

    I need to make these ASAP! Everything in these tarts scream my name. My husband’s birthday is this week so these would be perfect to make for him! :)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Awww yeah, birthday tarts instead of birthday cake? I like the way you think! Happy birthday to your hubby!

  19. Danguole says:

    You are so right–runny dulce de leche is for suckers! And I am sending many-nights-of-good-sleep mojo all y’all’s way. I mean, pretty little tarts can only keep ya going for so long!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks D! I too have discovered the hard way that woman cannot live on tarts alone. Now tarts plus a few hours of sleep? That’s a different story!

  20. Johlene says:

    I love this chocolate tart dough recipe.. I want to try it!! These tartlets are really cute and perfect for a dinner party.. don´t you just love individual portions.. :-) Happy week!! xoxo

  21. Wow, not only must these taste amazing but they look so gorgeous with that swirling!!! Chocolate crusts are my favorite kind on tarts too.

  22. Ahhh I need some of this dulce de leche in my life!! This looks awesome!

  23. You had me at dulce de leche.. I’ve been pumping that stuff into my veins since I was a kid. See, I knew there was a reason why we got along so well!

    The tarts sound awesome and I can’t wait to use this to get my next DdL fix. They may not be as swirly, but the flavor will be amazing, I’m sure.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Obviously our love of ddl makes us soulmates! I’d love to hear what you think if you give them a try.

  24. That dulce de leche is so thick and creamy. My mouth is watering! These tarts are gorgeous! Pinned.

  25. Gorgeous! These look (and sound!) incredible!

  26. This is pure yumminess to the max! :) I puffy heart love these gorgeous tarts!! Pinned!

  27. Jo-Anne says:

    I don’t have individual tart pans and would like to make this in a regular size tart (9″) – would you recommend doubling the recipe to do so?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Jo-Anne, you can definitely make this in a 9″ tart pan! As long as it’s a regular height and not deep dish, you should be fine with the single recipe. In fact, this tart dough recipe was originally written for a 9″ pan, so I think you’ll be fine. I’d love to hear what you think when you give it a try!

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