These Italian Valentine’s Day tarts are made with a buttery chocolate pastry crust then filled with pastry cream. Shaped into hearts, these indulgent tarts are the perfect sweet treat for a romantic celebration!
While I firmly believe that you do not need a special day to enjoy chocolate, these Italian Valentine’s Day tarts combine a heart shaped treat with a chocolate pie crust and pastry cream for a dessert that is festive with decadent taste!
Whether you are having a date night at home or need something to share with friends and family, these simple tarts will make everyone feel extra special. Two other special treats that fit the theme are chocolate Valentine cookies and Valentine chocolate dipped cookies!
Why You Will Love This Valentine’s Dessert Recipe
- Miniature sized: These chocolate tarts are cut into a heart shape then baked in a muffin pan for the best individual sweet snack or dessert!
- Easy to make: These tarts are simple to make with a pastry crust and creamy filling. No special equipment required!
- Customizable: Garnish as you like with chocolate dipped strawberries, homemade chocolates shaped like hearts or fresh berries and citrus.
- Pastry dough: Salt, baking powder, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, egg and cold butter.
- Pastry cream: Whole milk, whipping cream, egg yolks, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour and vanilla extract.
- Extras: Strawberries and melted chocolate.
How To Make Italian Valentine’s Day Tarts
To start, in a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and sifted cocoa, mix together with a whisk to remove any lumps.
Add the egg and butter, then combine with a flat beater or use your hands to mix until combined.
Move pastry dough to a lightly floured flat surface and gently knead a couple of times. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured flat surface. Cut dough into heart shapes using a cookie cutter. Place the shapes into a prepared heart shaped or regular muffin tin then gently flatten into place.
If using a heart shaped tin then gently flatten a bit up the sides of the pan, this is to give it a border to hold the cream.
Prick bottoms of shells with a fork and place a square of parchment paper or cupcake linger into each shell. Fill each one with pie weights, rice or beans then bake. Remove the paper and the weights then bake again or until baked through.
While the tarts cool, make your pastry cream. In a medium pot, over low heat, bring milk and cream to a hot temperature but do not boil. Remove from heat and cool to warm.
In a different medium pot whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, add the flour and vanilla and whisk to combine. Place pot over medium heat and slowly add the warm cream mixture, whisking continuously until thickened.
Pour the hot pastry cream into a heat resistant glass bowl and cover the surface of the cream with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate. Fill cooled Valentine’s Day tart with the cold pastry cream, garnish as desired and serve.
Substitutions And Variations
- Mousse filling: Filling these with a creamy chocolate mousse like I do in chocolate mousse tarts.
- Strawberry filling: If you love the combination of chocolate and strawberries, fill the tarts with strawberry mousse.
- Ganache filling: If you would like to up the ante for decadent, fill the tarts with a chocolate ganache.
- Cheesecake filling: Use the filling from these patriotic cheesecake mini tarts.
- Crust: Instead of chocolate crust, use my Italian pie crust recipe for a crust.
- Chilling time: Plan accordingly for chilling time. Both the chocolate pastry dough and the pastry cream need to be chilled.
- Avoid shrunken tarts: Chill the dough! This will help your tarts stay in their heart shape while baking.
- Add some weight: During the first few minutes of baking your chocolate tart base will puff up unless you have added ceramic pie weights, rice or dry beans.
- Serving suggestions: Serving these with a chocolate dipped strawberry adds to the romance.
- Decorations: A homemade chocolate makes an excellent garnish, even better if you can find a heart shaped mold. I love to use Bailey’s almond chocolate truffle filling in my chocolates minus the nuts.
Yes! Prepare the chocolate mini tarts base up to a day before and store in an airtight container at room temperature before filling. You can also make the pastry cream in advance and store in the fridge until ready to assemble the tarts.
While I love the ease of using a muffin pan for the heart shaped tarts, you can use a small 4” tart pan with a removable bottom if you would like.
Yes, chilling the dough for at least 30 minutes helps prevent shrinkage and makes it easier to handle.
The pastry cream is done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn across it.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, for a smooth and glossy finish.
How To Store Leftover Tarts?
These are best served right away after assembling. If you have leftover assembled Valentine’s Day tarts, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a day.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Once assembled, I do not recommend freezing the Valentine’s Day tarts. You could freeze the chocolate tartlet shells in advance and then fill as needed. Freeze full baked or for a better texture freeze raw and then add a few minutes to the bake time when ready to bake.
More Valentine’s Day Desserts
- Valentine’s Day Classic Tiramisu for Two
- Thin Chocolate Cookie Layered Dessert
- Strawberry Filled Cookies
- Creamy Double Chocolate Pie
- Puff Pastry Heart Cake
Italian Valentine’s Day Tarts
FOR THE DOUGH
- 1¼ cups flour
- 1 pinch salt (If using unsalted butter then add 2 pinches of salt)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 large egg
- 5 tablespoons butter (cubed)
- ¾ cup milk (whole)
- ¾ cup cream (whipping, heavy or whole cream at least 30% fat content)
- 4 large egg yolks (room temperature)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2½ tablespoons all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 6 fresh strawberries (I cut them half and dipped them in melted chocolate)
- 3-4 ounces dark chocolate (melted)
- FOR THE ITALIAN CREAM
- In a medium pot, heat over low the milk and cream to hot, do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool to warm.
- In a medium pot whisk together the yolks and sugar, add the flour and vanilla and whisk to combine.
- Place the pot over low / medium heat, slowly add the warm milk/cream mixture, whisking continuously until thickened, be sure to cook until thickened or you will have a runny pastry cream. It should have a silky texture.
- Pour the hot pastry cream into a heat resistant glass or ceramic bowl, cover the surface of the cream with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure wrap touches the cream mixture) and refrigerate at least 2 hours before using. To bring the chilled cream back to a creamy consistency, it’s a good idea to either use a hand beater or strongly whisk it before using.
FOR THE DOUGH
- Grease or spray a 6 medium-sized regular or heart shaped muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, mixing bowl or food processor bowl add the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and sifted cocoa (it can be sifted directly into the bowl), mix together with a whisk.
- Add the egg and butter, combine with the flat beater, pulsing or with a fork or clean hands until almost combined.
- Move to a lightly floured flat surface and gently knead a couple of times just to bring it together. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured flat surface with a floured rolling pin or even between two sheets of parchment paper, a thickness of ⅛ inch, then with a 3 ½ inch (9cm) heart shaped cookie cutter, cut the dough and place the shapes in the prepared tin, gently flatten into place with the bottom of a small glass lightly floured, if using a heart shaped tin then gently flatten a bit up the sides of the pan, this is to give it a border to hold the cream.
- Prick the bottoms of each shell with a fork. Place a square of parchment paper or a cupcake casing in each shell, and fill each one with some dried beans, rice or sugar. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, then remove the paper and dried beans (be careful it is hot) and then bake again for approximately 5 minutes or until baked through.
- Remove the tarts from the oven, let cool completely then fill with the Italian pastry cream. Top each tart with a chocolate dipped strawberry. Enjoy!
Updated from February 5, 2015.