Mexican Chocolate Tart Topped with Pecans

6 Mexican Chocolate Tarts topped with whipped cream. One in front and five behind in a v.

A rich dark chili Mexican chocolate tart made with a gluten-free almond crust and topped with cinnamon pecan crunch. One bit of this spicy smooth chocolate and you will be reaching for another one!

Something about the smoothness of ganache and the heat of Mexican chocolate that is the perfect marriage of texture and flavor. If you have not had Mexican chocolate you are in for a surprise. The subtle heat mixed with cinnamon is a distinctive flavor rich in tradition.

What is Mexican Chocolate

Without stepping on toes (I really don’t want to) the easiest way to think of Mexican chocolate is chocolate fused with chilies and cinnamon. By adding these elements, Mexican chocolate perfectly marries sweetness and heat.

However, that is the simplest way to think of Mexican chocolate. The truth is there is so much more to it, dating all the way back to the Aztecs. Mexican chocolate history and details are much richer than my very brief explanation above. To learn more about it, I recommend reading one of these articles from The Atlantic or from Spruce Eats. Both The Atlantic and Spruce Eats provide a much more detailed, and deserved explanation.

How do I make Mexican Chocolate?

Mexican chocolate is made from ground roasted cocoa nibs, sugar, chili, and cinnamon. The cocoa nibs give this chocolate a granular texture and a distinctive flavor. While you can make it, I find that the heat in red chilies can vary quite a bit. So to ensure a consistent amount of heat and sweetness, I think it is best to purchase a chili chocolate bar. There are several companies that make chili chocolate, however, my favorite is the Lindt Chili Chocolate bar.

Cinnamon Pecan Crunch (Optional)

This Mexican chocolate tart is made with a chocolate chili ganache. The ganache is smooth and perfect. However, sometimes I like a little crunch on top, giving the tart texture. For this I chose cinnamon pecans, bringing all the flavors of traditional Mexican chocolate into this tart.

This pecan crunch is super easy to make. All the ingredients are tossed together and baked in the oven. Once done, break the pecans into smaller pieces, either by hand or pulsed in a food processor. If you prefer, you can buy a premade praline pecan at the store. Those are also delicious and very easy!

Top down view of Mexican chocolate tart with pecan crunch and whipped cream on top.
Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon Pecans

Crust – To Gluten or Not?

When deciding what type of crust you want there is a ton of flexibility. A traditional crust can be made with pastry or flour. In America, we tend to love super sweet crusts made from crushed cookies or wafers. I made this particular dessert for my beloved niece Molly who is gluten-free. This request was easily met by using almond flour as the crust base. The almond flour provided an excellent flavor and I would choose it again regardless of diet. It was that good.

Tart vs. Tartlet

  • A tart is an open pastry, normally made of shortcrust pastry. The filling can vary from sweet (like this recipe) or savory (like a quiche). Very common in the US are custard tarts with berries on top. This type of tart is common for a good reason, they are totally delicious!
    • Tart pans come in all types of sizes but are normally round or rectangular.
    • Tart pans normally have a removable bottom. This makes it easy to remove the tart from the pan.
  • A tartlet is a single serving tart pan. One notable difference is the tartlets used in this photo do not have removable bottoms. That was a massive purchase error on my part.

Ingredient’s

  • Almond flour — is used in the crust of this recipe as a gluten-free alternative. Feel free to use the crumb of your choice or stick with almond flour, it is delicious!
  • Cocoa powder — A little cocoa powder was used to flavor the crust chocolate. Omit cocoa powder if you prefer a non-chocolate crust.
  • Butter and salt — Butter is used to bind the crust together and a pinch of salt is used for flavor.
  • Chili chocolate — You can make chili chocolate from scratch, however, for this recipe, I chose to use Lindt chili chocolate. I prefer buying a pre-made chocolate bar to ensure the chili to chocolate ratio is perfect and not too overwhelming. (It is something that can easily go awry).
  • Bittersweet chocolate — The ganache is made by melting chili chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. This provides just the right amount of chili heat in each bite. It’s more of a subtle heat that is not overwhelming.
  • Heavy whipping cream – This is a must for making ganache. In fact, I would not try making ganache without it.
  • Butter – When baking always use non-salted butter. By using butter without salt, you are allowed to control how much salt is in your recipe.
  • Vanilla extract – Use this to add flavor. It always boosts whatever you’re cooking.
  • Cinnamon – Is a classic flavor used in traditional Mexican chocolate. Cinnamon adds a sweet and woody flavor to the pecan crunch.

Visual Steps

1
This recipe will fit a 9 inch tart pan or 6 tartlets.
2
Create the Crust: Combine 2 cups almond flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup butter, 3 tablespoons maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
3
Press the crust into the tart or tartlet pans. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Allow to fully cool before next step.
4
Mexican Chili Ganache: Start with 1 cup of warmed heavy whipping cream.
5
Add 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and 4 ounces of chili chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
6
Add 4 tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk until smooth.
7
Add one tablespoon of vanilla extract, one teaspoon of cinnamon (optional), a dash of salt. Whisk.
8
Pour ganache into tart or tartlets.
9
Allow ganache to cool and top with whipped cream.
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Great British Baking Show Bake
Season 2, Episode 2, Show Stopper – Miniature Sweet Tarts

This was such a fun challenge. I was so happy at how the ganache and tart turned out. If I made this again, I would make it exactly the same!

GBBO Count: 19 down, 261 to go!

6 Mexican Chocolate Tarts topped with whipped cream. One in front and five behind in a v.

Mexican Chocolate Tart

A rich dark chili chocolate tart made with a gluten-free almond crust and topped with a cinnamon pecan crunch. One bit of this spicy smooth chocolate and you will be reaching for another one!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, French, Mexican
Servings 6

Equipment

  • 9 inch tart pan or 6 individual tart pans
  • Food processor (optional)
  • Heatproof bowl
  • Hand Mixer

Ingredients
  

Crust

Dark Chocolate Chili Ganache

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces dark chili chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 dash salt

Cinnamon Pecan Crunch (Optional)

  • 2 cups pecans
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • tablespoons water

Whipped Cream (Optional)

Instructions
 

Crust

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine almond flour, cocoa powder, butter, maple syrup, and salt to form your crust
  • Press the crust into the tart pan or tartlets.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Once baked allow to cool before moving to the next step.

Dark Chocolate Chili Ganache

  • Warm whipped cream.
  • Add the bittersweet chocolate and the dark chili chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
  • Add the 4 tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk until smooth.
  • Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk.
  • Pour ganache into cooled tart/tartlet pans.

Cinnamon Pecan Crunch (Optional)

  • Add all ingredients to a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat.
  • Stir all ingredients together and continue to stir as the sugar melts.
  • Cook for five minutes and then remove from heat.
  • Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to cool.
  • Break the pecans into small pieces either by using a food processor or placing the pecans in a zip lock bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.

Whipped Cream

  • Pour the cream into a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix the cream until stiff peaks are about to form.
  • Add in sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Spoon whipped cream onto the tart/tartlets or fill a piping bag and pipe the whipped cream.

Video

Mexican Chocolate Tart/Tartlets by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

Notes

Recipe notes:
  • Making the crust: I used almond flour to make a gluten-free crust. If you prefer a crust made out of another ingredient substitute at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Making the ganache: Whipped cream only needs to be above 100 degrees to melt chocolate. Use caution, not to overheat and burn the cream.  
  • Ganache chili heat:  The chili heat is mild to me, however, heat is a personal preference. You can adjust the heat by increasing the bittersweet chocolate and reducing the chili chocolate or vise versa. If you prefer no heat, you can substitute the chili chocolate for a high percent of chocolate bar (60% – 70%).
  • Both the pecans and whipped cream are optional. The tart/tartlets are great with or without them. You can also buy these pre-made if you prefer.
Keyword Chocoloate, cinnamon, Mexican Chocolate, Pecans, Tart
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