From Too Many Chefs - www.toomanychefs.com

October 12, 2004
Nut Tart


You're looking at the loneliest piece of nut tart. This is all that was left after a Friday debate-watching party.

Shortly after this photo, my wife swears the tart slice jumped up, ran to the window, yelled "Vive la nuts!" leapt to a nearby tree, slid down the bark and ran(!) to freedom. I'm not entirely sure I believe her as she was brushing crumbs from her chin at the time.

This recipe is from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts. I've modified it only slightly, but I think you might benefit from my experience with what seemed to be a very difficult crust. The reaction from the debate crowd was positive. A few felt it might have had a wee bit too much orange in it, but I like orange, and I baked the tart, so too bad for them.

This is only one of dozens of great recipes in the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts. Take a look at the book next time you find yourself in a local book megamall.

Nut Tart

Crust
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (I increased to two oranges worth)
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small chunks
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup unbleached white pastry flour (I used AP and it seemed to work but see notes below)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp cold water if necessary (This time out, I didn't need any)

In a big bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest, blend with a fork.

Working very quickly, add the butter flour and salt and mix with your hands until the mixture is crumbly.

Add the egg yolk and work in with your hands until the mixture is a light yellow.

Sprinkle the vanilla into the dough and mix together quickly with your hands. This is all the moisture I needed to bring the dough together. If you need more add a little bit of cold water until you can make a ball of (mostly unstable) dough.

Wrap the ball in cling film and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight. The flour in the dough will hydrate. Chilling the mix down will also keep unmelted butter from melting (a good thing for later).

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. This is an impossible task in a hot kitchen like the one I was using. If it sticks or breaks of makes a mess, sprinkle a little more flour and fold the dough in half and try again. Eventually, you should be able to roll it out so it fits into a 9" or 10" tart pan.

If the dough keeps ripping or sticking, get it as close as you can to round, drop the dough into the tart pan and flatten the dough out in the pan with a chilled tablespoon back. You can nip off pieces of dough and reposition them to plug holes or low spots along the side of the tart. This dough is difficult in hot environments, but also forgiving since it smooths together well.

Put the tart pan on a cookie sheet or pizza cardboard and place it in the freezer for one hour prior to baking.

Filling
1 3/4 cups pecans
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon grated orange peel (increased to one orange's worth of grated peel)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

On a cookie sheet, spread the nuts out evenly. Toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the nuts have a nice color and toasty aroma.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the sugar, butter and water for 5-7 minutes until you get a thin syrup that lightly coats the back of a spoon.

Remove the mix from the heat, stir in the cream, nuts, orange peel and Grand Marnier and stir to coat the nuts evenly. Very little liquid should remain in the bottom of the saucepan.

Spread the nuts evenly over the frozen crust. Drizzle any remaining liquid in the saucepan onto the top of the nuts and bake for 25-35 minutes until the crust is browned. I added a tablespoon of sugar sprinkled lightly over the top of the tart before baking to add to the golden color.

Once the tart is done, let it cool five minutes before removing the sides of the tart. Let the tart cool on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes before removing the bottom and transferring it to a cardboard pizza round or cake stand. Be careful - the tart will be very malleable when you pull it from the oven.

If you can, let the tart sit for a few hours in the refrigerator to let it firm up quite a bit. Serve slices with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at October 12, 2004 2:19 PM | TrackBack
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