Spring Cookie Butter Tarts

I felt justified calling these my “Spring” cookie butter tarts because of the cookie flowers decorating the top of the tart. I mean, cookie butter is brown, what can you do?! As are the tart dough (paté sablée), chocolate and caramelized hazelnuts, all other components of this tart.

This time, I just didn’t feel like using any kind of food coloring, but just enjoyed the varying shades of brown and the use of small flower cookies made of the same mixture as the tart shell to say “spring” for me. One could always decide to color the dough for the cookies, or use a bit of royal icing to color it up and make it even more springy.

I was inspired by a great little book I found called Little Tarts by Petit Gateau. There are so many amazing ideas in this book for fillings and ganaches and custard and using in one’s tarts, and so on! I used several components from this book: their shortcrust tart dough (paté sablée), the chocolate ganache, and the caramelized hazelnuts. For the cookie butter mousse, I took inspiration from Erin’s recipe at The Spiffy Cookie.

I’ve been working on improving my tart shells for the longest time, and while not yet perfect, these were the best I’ve done so far. I managed to get them pretty consistently thick by rolling out at 1/8-inch, cutting out the rounds with a 3.5-inch cutter so there was plenty of dough to go up the edges. Don’t forget to roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment, and then you don’t need to add any more flour to the dough.

Then gently worked them into the tart rings before slicing off the excess around the edge.

They even came out of the tart rings pretty easily – I only needed to gently work a little more on 2 of them to get them out of the rings, but it was the first time I’ve tried this kind of tart ring.

You’ll note I had to patch a couple of them because I got a few tears; but I figured by the time I was done, they’d be competely filled and no one would see my mistakes anyway!

You can roll and reroll out this dough to make all the shells; and it was easy to use small fondant cutters or mini cookie cutters to use up the extra bits of the dough by making the cookies to decorate on the top. I love it when there’s no excess and you utilize every bit of what you make!

Baked the shells until lightly brown, while I didn’t mind if the cookies got a little darker, and even varied a bit in color. Just added to the interest of the varying shades of color. And of course a little more color adds more flavor!

Used a piping bag to put small dots on each of the flowers (carefully! the ganache was slightly warm and runny when I used it, so it will run all over it one lets it). Also put a layer of the ganache on the bottom of each tart – went around with the ganache twice to make sure each one had at least a good amount, then used up the rest as evenly as I could.

With the cookie butter, I tried piping in smaller, then larger circles. But by the time I’d added the carmelized hazelnuts and cookies on the top, you couldn’t see the swirls anyway, so that bit really didn’t matter in the end.

I followed the Little Tarts recipe for caramelized hazelnuts pretty closely, having never done this part before. It was interesting to watch the process – first when they just looked sugary, and as they gradually got to the level of caramelization that I wanted. And they are really fab – dark and crunchy with the sugar coating not so hard to bite through.

These tarts look quite rich, but I don’t think they are overly so; I found the cookie butter mousse to be so light and airy, and the tart shell and cookies are nice and sandy, the crisp crunch of the hazelnuts and deep chocolate flavor – quite a nice bite, I think.

And when you combine this tart with a flowery tea set, add a few spring buds in a bud vase, I think it works well for a spring tea, if I say so myself!

So here’s goes for the recipe – enjoy!

Spring Cookie Butter Tarts

  • Servings: 10 six-centimeter/2.5-inch round tarts + extra for small garnish
  • Difficulty: advanced
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    Tart Shells

  • 120 g. (1 c. minus 1 1/2 Tbsp.) all-purpose flour
  • 50 g. (generous 1/3 c.) powdered sugar
  • 20 g. (3 + 1/4 Tbsp.) almond flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 75 g. (1/3 c.) cold butter
  • 1 egg (~12-14 g.)
  • Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (56% cacao)
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (66% cacao)
  • 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. honey (to taste)
  • Cookie Butter Mousse

  • 1/2 c. cookie butter (Biscoff or other brand)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 c. sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (or paste)
  • 8 oz. mascarpone (you can also use cream cheese), room temp
  • Caramelized Hazelnuts

  • 1/2 c. hazelnuts
  • 1 + 3/4 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar


To make the Tart Shells: Sift together the flour, powdered sugar, almond flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into little cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Mix the butter and dry ingredients together with your fingers until you have a crumbly dough.

Beat the egg, then add a tablespoon of the egg to the dough and knead into a single ball using your hands. If the dough is too sticky, add a little flour, but if too dry, add a few more drops of egg (only a little at a time, it won’t take much).

Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Take the dough from the fridge and knead it again for a minute or two. You can either sprinkle your work area and rolling pin with a little flour, or simply roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment so you don’t need the extra flour. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick and cut rounds out of the dough using a pastry cutter (with a 3 1/4 – 3 1/2-inch round, larger than the 6 cm/2.5-inch tart rings so you have dough to go up the sides of the tart ring).

Place each round of dough on a baking ring and gently work it in without breaking, pressing it gently down and against the inside of the ring. If you get a small tear or two, simply patch it up with a bit of extra dough.

Carefully cut the excess dough around the edge and use a fork to prick a few holes in the bottom. Roll out the leftover dough and cut out more rounds and the mini flower cookies (using mini cookie cutters or fondant press molds) until you have used up all the dough. Chill the tart rounds and mini cookies in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bake the tart rounds and cookies, preheat the oven to 325° F. Blind bake the tart rounds for 20-25 minutes (check the darkness at 20 minutes). You will not need pie weights for the blind bake.

Then bake the mini cookies in the same oven for 12-15 minutes (again, check the doneness and leave in a bit longer if they are not dark enough for you). Let tart shells and cookies cool completely.

To make the Chocolate Ganache: Chop the chocolate into small pieces and set aside in a bowl. Put the whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil (will be bubbling around the edges). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely dissolved and you have a smooth mixture. Add the butter and honey (you may use an immersion blender to make sure the mixture is completely integrated and smooth). Set aside until ready to use. You may use a small piping bag to get the ganache in the bottom of the tart shells and as well as to “dot” the centers of the flower mini cookies.

To make the Cookie Butter Mousse: In a large bowl, add the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla and beat using stand or hand mixer until it forms stiff peaks.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the mascarpone cream with 1/4 c. of the sugar and beat until smooth (check it’s sweet enough for you). Separately, in a microwave-safe bowl, add the cookie butter and microwave for ~10 seconds, enough to loosen it up a bit. Mix in the ground cinnamon and ginger. Then add this to the mascarpone mixture and mix until combined.

Add about one-third of the whipped cream to the cookie butter/mascarpone mixture and gently fold it in until fully incorporated. Your mixture should start lightening up. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold it in with a large spoon or spatula, trying to maintain as much lightness to the mixture as possible. It’s now ready to spoon into a piping bag to pipe into the tart.

To make the Caramelized Hazelnuts: Preheat the oven to 300° F, place the hazelnuts on a parchment-covered jelly roll pan and roast them for 10 minutes. Put the water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat.

Add the warm hazelnuts and stir until the water has evaporated (the sugar will look white covering the nuts at this stage). You can stop now if you want sugared nuts; but to caramelize, carry on cooking while stirring (this will take some time) until your hazelnuts reach the caramelization stage you want (the sugar will eventually reliquefy a bit to harden on the nuts).

Transfer the nuts back to the parchment-covered pan and let them cool and set. Once they are cool, chop them up a little smaller so they fit well on the tarts with the cookie flowers.

To assemble the tarts: The tarts are assembled by piping a layer of ganache in the bottom of the tart shells. Then pipe the cookie butter mousse over the ganache. Sprinkle a few of the caramelized hazelnut bits over the top of the mousse, then strategically place 2-3 of the mini cookies on top of the tart (using additional mousse to set them in place if needed). Cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.

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