Dark chocolate, cayenne, and sea salt make a decadent match in this sophisticated post-Holiday dinner treat.


Credit: Chelsea Kyle

Recipe Summary test

30 mins
3 hrs
Serves 8 to 12

This recipe originally appeared in our Holiday 2021 issue. Get the magazine here


Filling and Topping


Instructions Checklist
  • For the crust, in a food processor, pulse the flour, pecans, sugar, and sea salt until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until only tiny pieces of butter remain. Add the egg white and pulse until large moist clumps form.

  • Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your hands, press dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan until it is slightly above the rim. (Dust your fingers with flour if the dough is too sticky.) Refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour.

  • Preheat the oven to 375°. Gently line the tart shell with foil; fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice. Bake the pastry for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

  • For the filling and topping, in a medium saucepan, stir 3/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/8 tsp. cayenne over medium heat until toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the heavy cream, chocolate, instant espresso, and 1/8 tsp. sea salt and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Turn off heat and let cool in pan until warm but still pourable, about 5 minutes. Pour into the crust. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

  • Line a baking sheet with foil. In a medium skillet, stir the remaining 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and a large pinch of cayenne over medium-high heat until toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, and 2 tbsp. of water. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the nuts and cook, stirring often, until caramelized and no liquid remains, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour mixture onto the foil, separating the nuts before the candy sets. Cool until hardened, about 15 minutes. Arrange nuts on top of tart or chop and scatter on top.