Strawberry & Balsamic Chocolate Tartlets
March 18, 2021
This dessert is a love triangle between three classic ingredients: chocolate, strawberries, and balsamic vinegar. The dynamic is a delicious interaction that gives each bite an enjoyable combination of rich, tart, and sweet. Plus, how cute are these personal-sized tart shells? What are you waiting for — let’s put together these balsamic strawberry and chocolate tartlets!
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Traditional chocolate-covered strawberries have one fatal flaw: whenever you take that first bite, all the yummy chocolate flakes off. So I knew when I was brainstorming this strawberry and chocolate dessert that I wasn’t going in that direction. Instead, I decided to bring out the flavors of both by adding one of my favorite ingredients, balsamic vinegar.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for these chocolate, strawberry & balsamic tarts at your grocery store. You can also order online using Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery.
- Pantry: Graham crackers, Cocoa powder, Sugar, Salt, Confectioner’s sugar, Chocolate chips, Balsamic vinegar
- Fridge: Butter, Heavy Cream
- Produce: Strawberries
- Equipment: Mini tart pans, Mixing bowls, Stand or hand mixer, Silicone spatula
How to Make Shells for Chocolate Tartlets
There are four parts to these tarts, but I promise they are not as intimidating as that makes them sound. Nothing is baked here, so the only cooking is to melt a little bit of chocolate. Most of the time is spent chilling these tarts in the fridge. So let’s just get into building these yummy tarts, starting with the foundation: crust.
Place your six empty mini tart shells on a sturdy tray or baking sheet. This makes them easier to transport, especially because tart pans have a removable base. If you don’t have true tarts pans, these will be delicious made in a small bowl or ramekin. They just won’t look quite as pretty,
To make the crust, first crush your graham crackers. You can use a food processor, a rolling pin, or even a mallet. Just be sure to get it nice and crumbly, with no large chunks. Then add that to a mixing bowl with the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt and mix until everything is well-combined.
Pour the melted butter on top of the graham cracker mixture, and stir it all together until everything is coated, and there are no dry pockets. After a few stirs with a spoon, I find it easier to switch to using my hands. This also helps check the texture. When you pinch a piece of crust between your fingers, it should stay together.
Divide the chocolate crust mixture between the tart pans, and then start pressing it into the edges and bottom. At the end, there should be a nice layer of crust coating the bottom and the ridged edges of your tart pans. Place the entire tray of these in the freezer while you prepare the fillings.
Let’s Make Balsamic & Strawberry Chocolate Tartlets
Part one is done, and now it’s time to make the chocolate mousse filling. This filling has a bit of a twist, since this is the first place we’ll be adding balsamic vinegar to these tartlets. Otherwise, it’s a pretty basic method that can be used to make chocolate mousse any time you want. Start by whipping the cream.
You can use either a stand or hand mixer for this. I find that my hand mixer works better for lowers volumes of cream, like in this case. Either way, be sure you are using the whisk attachment. Start on low speed and slowly increase to high while whipping to prevent splashing. Once at high, add in the sugar, and then continue whipping until the whipped cream mostly holds its shape, but points may have a soft curl.
Now for the other half of chocolate mousse: the chocolate. Combine chocolate chips and the rest of the heavy cream in a medium microwave-safe bowl. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips here because they are easy and require no prep. However, if you prefer to use chopped dark chocolate, that’s fine too.
To melt the chocolate, microwave them with the cream in 30-second increments, stirring after each. You want to do it in these short bursts so you can be sure not to scald the cream or burn the chocolate. After a few times through, the chocolate chips will start to smoothly combine into the cream.
At that point, stir in the balsamic vinegar, whisking until everything is perfectly smooth. Adding the balsamic at this point will help mix it into the mousse nice and evenly, without any additional stirring into the fragile whipped cream.
Pour the chocolate and balsamic mixture into the bowl with the whipped cream. Then, using a silicone spatula, fold it in. To do this, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use a flipping motion to add whipped cream on top of the chocolate.
Keep doing this similar motion until the chocolate starts to thoroughly mix into the cream. It takes a few minutes, but you’ll want to be patient. Do not whisk or stir too vigorously, as that could collapse the aeration in the cream, making for a denser mousse that doesn’t quite melt in your mouth.
Once it’s all combined and uniform, set the chocolate mousse aside. But also, steal a little taste. It’s worth the tiny bit you’ll lose from the tarts!
Two parts down, and honestly, those were the most work-intensive anyway. It’s pretty much a breeze from here on out. Now we are going to be making a thick balsamic cream to go on the top and bottoms of the tarts, containing everything in that tangy almost fig-like sweet flavor.
To make the balsamic cream, combine the ingredients in a small mixing bowl: cream, balsamic vinegar, cocoa powder, and sugar. Whisk until it’s smooth and slightly thick, but still more liquidy than the mousse. It should have a thin pudding-like consistency.
Then, if you haven’t already sliced your strawberries – part four. You can make a different design than what I did here, but for these flowers, each tart needs a single whole strawberry, and eight pieces of quartered berries.
All right. We’ve done it. All four parts are ready, and now it’s time to put them all together and build some tarts! First, remove the tray of tart shells from the freezer, and place it on a sturdy table or surface. Then, divide half of the balsamic cream among the chocolate shells. Use the back of a spoon to spread it around the base of each.
Scoop the chocolate mousse on top of the balsamic cream in each shell, spreading it to fill them. If you prefer, you can add the mousse to a piping bag and fill the shells that way. But remember you are still topping it with berries, so there’s no need to worry about appearances at this point.
Arrange the strawberries with a whole berry in the center of each shell, and eight quarter pieces around it like petals, with the narrower side pressed into the mousse. Finally, spoon the remaining balsamic cream around the center strawberry. Feel free to play with different arrangements of the berries for more variety in your own tartlets.
Now, you can eat these immediately, but I recommend giving them a little bit of extra time to chill and firm up. For the best results, place the entire tray in the fridge for at least a couple hours. While these tartlets can be stored covered in the fridge for a couple days, they will be the best after chilling for up to eight hours.
Just before serving, unmold the tarts. Carefully place a tart on top of a spice jar lid or similarly sized disc-shaped object. Then gently guide the outer ring down, and slide the tart onto a plate. You can leave it on the flat base to serve, so don’t worry about removing that piece too.
You can also eat these right out of the molds, especially if you don’t want to wait. They will be tough to unmold without chilling. But it’s kind of fun to serve up a pretty tart with perfectly ridged edges, so I recommend trying to unmold them.
Hello decadence! Sweet juicy strawberries are paired here with their two loves – chocolate and balsamic vinegar, to make the most adorable tartlets.
How to Serve Chocolate Tartlets
These mini tarts are perfect for dessert any day of the week. Since they don’t require any baking and are served cold, it’s super easy to have them as part of a dinner party. I love the ideas of serving each with a scoop of strawberry ice cream.
Or if you are serving a crowd and would rather have a full-sized tart cut into slices than a bunch of mini chocolate tartlets, you can use this same recipe to fill a single standard tart pan instead. Just be sure to let it chill for a little bit extra so the mousse really sets up.
Either way, you will definitely want a delicious drink to pair with your tart. Lean into the rich decadence with something warm and cozy, like a peanut butter cup boozy hot chocolate or raspberry white hot chocolate which can be served with or without alcohol. For something more refreshing, try a birthday cake martini or a fresh watermelon daiquiri.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Bake up extra strawberries into a tasty strawberry and rhubarb crumble for breakfast.
- My favorite way to use up chocolate chips is by making mini skillet cookies.
- Balsamic vinegar adds a lovely drizzle atop a caramelized onion cheesecake.
- Use leftover graham crackers in no-bake molasses cheesecake as the crust.
- Spare heavy cream is the perfect excuse to make a batch of coffee ice cream.
Balsamic & Strawberry Chocolate Tartlets
Chocolate Tart Crust
- 5 Whole Graham Crackers finely crushed
- ¼ Cup Cocoa Powder
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 3 Tbsp Butter melted
- 1 ½ Cups Heavy Cream divided
- 2 Tbsp Confectioner's Sugar
- ½ Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
- 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
- 3 Tbsp Confectioner's Sugar
- 18 Strawberries 1-2 inches wide, 12 of them quartered and the other 6 whole
Chocolate Tart Crust
- Place six empty 4-inch diameter tart shells on a sturdy tray or baking sheet.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the crushed graham crackers, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt and mix until well-combined. Add in the butter and stir until everything is coated.
- Divide the mixture between the tart pans, and press into the edges and bottom, until the thickness is uniform and the crusts mimic the shape of the pans. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes while you prepare the fillings.
- In a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup of the heavy cream. Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream starting on low and increasing to high to prevent splashing. Add in the sugar, then continue whipping on high until soft peaks form.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the rest of the cream and the chocolate chips. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until the chocolate chips are melted and combined into the cream. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, whisking until smooth.
- Fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, using a silicone spatula. Do not whisk or stir too vigorously, as that could collapse the aeration in the cream. Set aside once thoroughly combined.
- To make the balsamic cream, in a small bowl, combine the cream, balsamic vinegar, cocoa powder, and sugar. Whisk until smooth.
- Remove the tray of tart shells from the freezer, and divide half of the balsamic cream among the shells. Use the back of a spoon to spread it around the base of each.
- Scoop the chocolate mousse on top of the balsamic cream in each shell, spreading it to fill them.
- Arrange the strawberries with a whole berry in the center of each shell, and eight quarter pieces around it like petals. Spoon the remaining balsamic cream around the center strawberry.
- Chill the tarts in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Then use a small spice jar lid or other similarly sized object to unmold each tart just before serving.
- Make ahead tip: These tartlets can be stored covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. They will be the best after chilling for 2-8 hours.
- Feel free to play with different arrangements of the berries for more variety in your tartlets.
- If desired, you can use this recipe to fill a single 9-inch diameter tart pan instead. Let it chill for at least 6 hours before unmolding and serving.