A fantastic chocolate sable recipe that works perfectly in as a tart shell or baked as cookies. Very easy to vary and super versatile, this basic dough will become a go to.

You might enjoy the cream cheese panna cotta I made to fill this shell, and if you’re in need of plain sable dough, I can help you there too.

Also consider this lovely chocolate chocolate chip shortbread recipe. If you leave out the chips, this would also make a wonderful chocolate crust. For ease of browsing, you can find all my cookies and bars recipes in one place. Thanks so much for visiting!

baked chocolate sable on a white cake stand

I tried this with only one small change – used a whole egg and omitted the cream to make doubly sure it stuck together. Baked it in one tart shell with frangipane filling (baked them at the same time). It was delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this AWESOME recipe!

Reader M M

A Pastry Staple

Sable, meaning “sand” in French, is a short crumbly dough that’s a touch richer than shortbread thanks to some egg in the dough.

The egg makes it a bit less fragile than shortbread while still having that delicious crumble rather than flakiness as in a pate brisee or traditional American-style pie dough.

And making it chocolate? To me, that doesn’t make it any less of a staple than a “regular” sable. So many ways to add flavors to the dough itself or make fillings that pair perfectly with chocolate.

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You can make this dough, roll it out between parchment, and then freeze the sheets for up to a month. That way, you’ll always have some chocolate sable on hand for when you want cookies or a tart shell.

This Chocolate Sable Recipe is Really Versatile

overhead partial shot of chocolate sable tart dough

When I made this chocolate sable, I posted a photo of it and asked on instagram and facebook what you would fill it with.

Here are some of the responses, some of which are fully fleshed out and some of which are general ideas.

If you start with a general idea, refine it further by considering texture, temperature and mouthfeel:

  • White chocolate pastry cream with raspberry gelee
  • Sea salt caramel custard
  • Something peanut buttery
  • Chocolate ganache, marshmallow cream, graham cracker streusel (what does that sound like to you?)
  • Raspberry compote with a chocolate ganache drizzle
  • Ooey gooey caramel and nuts with ganache
  • Coffee mousse
  • Raspberry white chocolate custard
  • Coffee mascarpone cream with cocoa nibs sprinkled on top
  • More chocolate…and caramel
  • Bananas, pastry cream, meringue
  • Caramel and vanilla rum pastry cream with orange segments
  • Bavarian cream topped with lots of fresh fruit
  • Coconut custard with toasted coconut
  • Corn custard, candied orange, pistachio brittle
  • Coconut and almond pastry cream
  • Pumpkin and salted caramel

All of these ideas are fantastic. There are no wrong answers here at all. This is about making a tart shell and then filling it with whatever makes you happy.

Update: My buddy Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic took up the gauntlet and created this simply gorgeous banana cream pie with chocolate crust. Love!

close up of baked, fluted chocolate sable tart dough

A Note About Measurements

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I really hope you love this chocolate sable recipe, you guys! Tell me how you’ll use your sable in the comments.

And if (when) you make it, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe. Thanks, and enjoy!

Let’s get straight to the ingredient list and procedure, shall we? And yes, some would term this a “recipe.” What it is really is a list of ingredients and a list of techniques used to combine the ingredients in a certain way to achieve a specific result. Anyway, here we go.

Chocolate Sable Recipe

Jennifer Field
This chocolate sable recipe makes enough for 1 9" tart shell and 16-18 small cut out cookies.
The recipe doubles and even quadruples nicely, so make a ton and roll portions between sheets of parchment paper to freeze and use whenever you need a chocolate fix.
4.55 from 22 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course pastry dough
Cuisine French
Servings 1 9" tart shell
Calories 151 kcal

Ingredients

  • 6.9 oz all purpose flour
  • 3 oz granulated sugar (up to 4 oz, if you want sweeter dough)
  • 1.15 oz cocoa powder (see Note)
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder or freeze dried coffee (I used Bustelo) optional
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5.5 oz unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons -1 Tablespoon heavy cream

Instructions
 

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder (if using) and salt.
  • Add the softened butter and mix on low to medium-low speed until the butter is completely incorporated.
  • Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Add the cream and mix for 15-20 seconds. The dough should come together in a big lump stuck to the beater. If this doesn't happen, add more cream, a tiny bit at a time, until the dough comes together. There shouldn't be any dry ingredients fluttering about, nor should the dough be sticky. It should be about the consistency of Play-Doh.
  • Remove the dough from the mixer and form it into a disc about 1" thick.
  • Place the disk between two sheets of parchment and roll to about 3/8" thick.
  • You can line a tart pan immediately or, if you're making cookies, refrigerate the sheeted dough until it is firm.

To Line a Tart Pan with a Removable Bottom

  • Place the dough over a 9" tart pan (8" or 10" is fine too, depending on what sort of tart you'll be making. You can even line a regular pie pan with the dough). Leave at least 1/2" overhang all around.
  • Working slowly around the tart pan, lift an edge of the dough and then press the dough into the corner of the pan. Don't stretch the dough or it could shrink back on you. Use the back of your knuckle to press the dough into the corners. Especially if you have long nails, don't use your fingertips or you could poke holes in your dough.
  • Trim the the dough to have a more-or less even overhang. I used kitchen scissors.
  • Fold the excess dough over inside the tart pan and press it against the dough already lining the sides. This will give you a double thickness on the sides and will help make your tart nice and sturdy.
  • Using a small spatula or knife (I used a small offset icing spatula), trim the dough even with the edge of the tart pan. Sweep the knife/spatula from the inside to the outside across any dough sticking out over the top of the pan. The edge of the pan will sort of act like a cutter, giving you a nice even edge.
  • Save the scraps and re-roll once. You can use the extra for cookies.

To Bake the Tart Shell

  • Refrigerate the tart shell on a cookie sheet (because of the removable bottom) until firm.
  • Poke tiny holes all in the bottom of the tart shell with a small, sharp knife. (I find a fork makes holes that are too big. You don't want your filling to leak out.)
  • Refrigerate or freeze for about 30 minutes.
  • Line the bottom of the tart pan with parchment (crumble it up and then uncrumble it to make it easier to fit it in the corners) or a commercial-sized coffee filter and add some beans or pie weights.
  • Bake at 350F (still on the cookie sheet) for about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and carefully lift up the parchment or coffee filter. This dough is delicate, so if it's too wet, it might stick to the parchment. Worry not. Just put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so and check it again.
  • When the dough in the bottom of the pan is set up enough that it doesn't stick, carefully remove the paper and beans. Put the tart shell back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the bottom is completely dry. The crust will firm up as it cools. If it seems a bit soft, you can absolutely stick it back in the oven for another few minutes, and nothing bad will happen.
  • Let the tart shell cool completely on a rack.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

You can absolutely make this tart with any cocoa powder from the grocery store and have great results. If you have some darker or higher quality cocoa powder, please feel free to use it or substitute some in for part of the total weight. I have some Black Onyx Cocoa Powder from Savory Spice Shop, and it is super, super dark. I used about .3 oz of that and made up the difference (to 1.13 oz) with Hershey's.
If you're not ready to tackle a tart shell, make sandwich cookies (bake at 350F on parchment for 8-12 minutes or until firm. You can always bake a couple of minutes longer if they aren't as crunchy as you'd like once cool) and fill with a tiny bit of whatever sounds good: caramel, jam, mousse, frosting, etc.
Since this recipe makes 1 tart shell and several cookies, the nutritional information is calculated at 16 servings on average.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 151kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 2gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 18mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5g
Keyword chocolate sable, how to make chocolate sable dough
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Thanks for spending some time with me today, friends.

Now tell me, “What would you fill that chocolate sable tart shell with?”

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26 Comments

  1. I made my first chocolate tart crust the other day and I cooked it until it was dry and it is super crunchy. Almost too hard to cut with a fork. Is it supposed to be that hard?

    1. It’s easy to overbake a chocolate tart shell because it’s already brown. You probably overbaked by a touch. Maybe bake at a bit lower temp or don’t bake for quite so long. Once you fill it with any sort of moist filling, it should soften up enough to cut through without hurting yourself! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I tried this with only one small change – used a whole egg and omitted the cream to make doubly sure it stuck together. Baked it in one tart shell with frangipane filling (baked them at the same time). It was delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this AWESOME recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I think I won’t get past the tart shell, it looks so chocolatey-delish. I will probably just eat it all up even before you can spell ‘custard filling’. Thanks for sharing this wonderful chocolate sable tart dough recipe and the nice blog visit, Jenni!

  4. This crust is so inviting—-Pulling me into the kitchen to make it and fill it with something.
    What a wonderful post. Tasty crusts are the ultimate when I am judging a pie. I wish we were friends—food sharing friends. Laughing—-

  5. I’m with Betsy on this one — a layer of chocolate ganache covered with a mocha mousse sounds divine. Or… I love chocolate and orange together, so maybe an orange pastry cream covered with lovely chocolate curls?

    And Marlene: if you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they sell heavy cream in little 8-oz shelf-stable asceptic boxes that are a godsend to have in the pantry.

      1. Jenni, I made this shell last night — it’s sitting in the fridge with a layer of ganache in it, awaiting its mocha mousse filling later today.

        One problem: after the shell cooled, when I lifted it away from the ring it stuck very badly to the wall of the ring in one 2-inch spot. I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen before with a pastry with this butter content in it. The wall thickness looks almost exactly like yours in the photos. I pasted it back together with ganache as best I could, but I’m worried that when I go to serve it it’ll stick to the pan bottom. My tart ring was 10 inches so I didn’t get any bonus cookies, but the crumbs I tasted were delicious.

        Do you think I could have just pressed it in too vigorously?

      2. If you’re concerned about sticking, set the tart down on a hot towel for a few seconds just to melt any butter in contact with the disc and then work a thin metal spatula all the way under it before slicing. Your flavor combo sounds dreamy–and I like the dense ganache with the poufy mousse textures, too.

        Mine decided to stick a bit in the bottom of my tart ring but oddly not the sides too. It never did at the restaurant (of course. Sheesh. But we often used it in individual tarts in nonstick tart pans.) I think I shall have to specify either using nonstick pans, spraying with some Pam or something or suggest folks put a disc of parchment or nonstick foil down on the bottom.

    1. Just bought some at Traders, the best find ever ( next to ‘ the Saco panty’s culture buttermilk blend )

  6. Jenni, are there any substitutes for the heavy cream? Wondering because I don’t typically use it/have it on hand, and when I buy it, I often have to throw it out when it’s past its prime. Thanks

    1. You can absolutely use some half and half or even some whole milk, Marlene. I bet using orange juice would make for an interesting twist too though I’ve never tried it. Orange and chocolate are so lovely together!

  7. Hmmmmm…decisions, decisions, decisions. I love the coffee in this crust so I am inclined to wish for something like a chocolate ganache layer on the bottom and a mocha mousse on top OR a mocha Italian buttercream on top.

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your instructions and tidbits of info. I can, truly, say that many of these were new to me.

    1. I can’t wait to see what decadent Desserts Required filling you’re going to put in this baby, Betsy! And I’m glad you also found the post informative. I aim to make folks drool and learn simultaneously! LOL

  8. 5 stars
    I think a Dulce de Leche Mascarpone tiramisu-type filling drizzled with dulce de leche, chocolate ganache, and chopped hazelnuts would be super yummy.
    I bet ice cream would be yummy… I doubt you could go wrong with this tart shell.

4.55 from 22 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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