salted caramel chocolate tart

When it comes to desserts my feet are both firmly planted in the chocolate category. Fruit pies, ice cream, souffles and flans don't stand a chance when there is something deep, rich and satisfying like chocolate on the menu. Autumn is naturally the time when apples, pears and other harvest fruits take centre stage but I'd much rather show up to a party with a chocolate  caramel tart than a pumpkin pie which is exactly what I did last Thanksgiving weekend. salted caramel chocolate tart-5

I tracked down the recipe for this tart on Saveur and made a few adjustments. The majority of ingredients you can probably find in your pantry with the exception of the light corn syrup which you need for the caramel. A note on the caramel: if you haven't made it before the thought can be a little terrifying however it is really quite easy. A few pointers...

  • Be careful! Boiling sugar is hot and sticky and you don't want to get any on you.
  • Don't step away from the stove. Use all of your senses and be aware of what the boiling sugar and water is doing. You will both see with your eyes and smell with your nose when the sugar is starting to caramelize.
  • The moment you start to see the sugar turn a warm amber colour pay close attention. You might even want to pull your saucepan off the stove and swirl the sugar around (very carefully). The sugar will continue cook off the stove.
  • Once the sugar is a medium amber colour add your cream and butter. It will bubble up so make sure you have a big enough saucepan.
  • If you caramel is too light you will know next time to leave it a bit longer. If it is too dark then it might be a bit bitter. You can always start again!

salted caramel chocolate tart-1 Serves 8


FOR THE CRUST: 1 ½ cups all purpose flour ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder ¼ tsp. kosher salt 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. icing sugar 2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature ½ tsp. vanilla extract

FOR THE CARAMEL: 1 ½ cups sugar 3 tbsp. light corn syrup ¼ tsp. kosher salt 6 tbsp. unsalted butter 6 tbsp. heavy cream

FOR THE GANACHE: ½ cup heavy cream 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped Fleur de Sel  for garnish


1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Transfer dough to a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

2. Make the caramel: In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter and cream (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours.

3. Make the ganache: Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.

salted caramel chocolate tart-3

This tart does take some time to make primarily because it has to set between each layer. However, I found a couple of hours was all that was needed unlike the suggested 4-5 hours. Regardless we were rushing to get this made before we headed out the door to our Thanksgiving party. Of course, I had to take some photos (we literally had our coats on when I was like WAIT we need to take photos NOW!) Henry has become quite interested in my "photoshoots" and was a big help in getting these pictures taken.

1382356_10151929809861203_233117306_nAs my husband said, "The secret to The Marion House Book's photos has been revealed!"


pumpkin patch

We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and for the whole it was glorious - warm and sunny during the day with crisp autumn nights. It's become a bit of a tradition to head out to a pumpkin patch. My favourite spot is a place near Kitchener-Waterloo close to St. Jacob's Market. We didn't have pumpkins farms like these growing up in Alberta so it's a treat for me to take my kids to such a place. pumpkinfarm-3It has the most stunning array of pumpkins, squashes and gourds I have ever seen.


I love the celadon green and pale blue squashes and pumpkins. Definitely my favourite.

pumpkinfarm-1And how about these ones that mix the palest peach and seafoam green together. They're almost unreal!

pumpkinfarm-4Orla quickly chose her favourite and wouldn't let go! A big traditional orange pumpkin.

pumpkinfarm-6In terms of getting a shot of both kids together this was about the best we could do. Orla doesn't really understand the words "stand still" right now!

Pretty thankful to have these sweet little ones in my life and to get to spend some precious time with them.  How was your long weekend?



butterfly birthday party

It's hard to believe but a few weeks from now my little daughter, Orla will be turning a year old. Oh how time flies. Her birthday party will probably be a small affair but that hasn't stopped me from making it a memorable event. Above her crib hangs a mobile made of butterflies and the other night while I was rocking her to sleep I thought it made a fitting theme for a first birthday. Below are a few of the things I'm considering. butterflyinviteThese butterfly invitations designed By John Derian are available at Paperless Post. You can change the greeting to whatever you like. They appeal to me because they aren't overly sweet or childish.

butterfly party

I'm thrilled that we finally get to celebrate a birthday outside (everyone else in the family has a birthday in December). While this is obviously set up for a wedding (and the hanging ornaments are paper cranes) I like the idea of hanging some butterfly mobiles from branches or string out in the garden.

butterfly party decorations

I thought these whimsical butterfly cutouts applied to the wall and paper lanterns were also very pretty. Tree branches, butterfly straws, and a fresh pitcher of pink lemonade are also things I could easily whip up. Find instructions here.

butterfly cake

For the cake, I could go two ways. Individual cupcakes with butterflies made out of pretzels (the salty sweet person in me is craving these) or I could make a cake (one layer only!) and decorate it with store bought butterflies.

Picture 2

Picture 3

Finally, I thought these favors were very sweet and easy to make. I think all I need to do for most of these crafts is make a million little butterfly cutouts. Luckily they make a punch for this so it shouldn't be too hard.

For more ideas you can check out my Pinterest Board.

By the way, I'll be back here next Tuesday with a brand new House Tour with an amazing DIY wall treatment. (It's a long weekend here in Canada - have a good one!)

Image credits:
1 - Paperless Post
2 - Jose Villa
3 - Flying House, Martha Stewart
4 - Martha Stewart, Koyal Wholesale
5 - Jackie Wonders - Style Me Pretty


l'ouvrier - restaurant visit

Last week I introduced you to artist and designer Courtney Wotherspoon. Today we're going to take a closer look at one of the projects she had a hand in designing - l'ouvrier kitchen/bar. With a little ingenuity and some serious DIY she turned a blank space into a riveting venue. These are projects you could even try out in your home. I think the "detritus baggie" installation would look great in an office. Great inspiration for a Tuesday morning! _MG_7503

L'ouvrier is a lesson in white - specifically high gloss white. Vintage table bases and wood tops were painted in high gloss white paint to create a uniform and clean look.

_MG_7476Of course, every rule needs to be broken so there is one standout fluorescent pink table at the from of the room - a trademark Courtney Wotherspoon colour!


Throughout the space Wotherspoon made the utilitarian beautiful. Here are a typical black electrical cord becomes captivating wall art.


On the opposite wall, Wotherspoon installed a series of ziploc bags filled with construction and renovation debris.

_MG_7585 A detail of the "detritus baggies."


A casual place to have drinks withe more wall art made from electrical cord by Courtney.


Wotherspoon also designed the restaurant's logo, menu, gift certificates, and business cards.


At the back of the restaurant is a solid concrete bar with vintage laboratory stools. On  the wall, Courtney has installed sticks she has painted in vivid colours.

For more information on l'ouvrier check out my interview with Courtney Wotherspoon.

All photographs by Kristin Sjaarda.