I keep telling myself I’m not going to publish another tart recipe but I can’t help it! It’s my “go to” dessert. I whip them up kind of in the way my dad used to make Dagwood sandwiches. I open up the refrigerator and see what fruit I have on hand and throw it into a tart shell. So far, so good – I’ve never heard anyone complain. Like I’ve said before, once you get the short crust down (pâte brisée) the rest is up to interpretation.
Walnuts are in season right now. Perhaps you’ve noticed a walnut tree in your nextdoor neighbor’s front yard with a litter of nuts scattered around the ground bursting out of their green casings? Go pick them up! Steal them! Hurry!!!
Cooking with fresh walnuts does require a little elbow grease because they need to be shelled and briefly toasted. I take the flat side of my cleaver and whack them hard to crack the shells. It’s not pretty, but it works. If you’re really picky you can peel off the skins around the flesh of the walnut with the tip of a knife or soak them in milk overnight to help remove the skins and soften the tannins. I don’t bother with it for tarts. Fresh walnuts are more moist than the store bought kind or those that having been sitting around in the nut bowl since last October.
For this recipe I created a simple skillet caramel with added molasses, tossed in the toasted walnuts, added some chopped apple, raisins, spices, and then an egg yolk tempered with warm cream. I poured the walnut melange into a tart shell and baked it until the apples were soft then topped up with an enormous dollop of chantilly cream for presentation.
Walnuts are very October…
For recipe click on “Continue reading Tarte Aux Noix…”
Tarte Aux Noix
Makes enough dough for 23cm or 9-inch tart shell or 10 7.5cm / 3-inch tartlets. You can always freeze half the dough.
175g / 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling out the dough
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
120g / 1/2 cup sweet butter cut into small pieces
2–3 tbsp ice cold water
1. In a large bowl whisk all dry ingredients to evenly distribute (flour, salt, sugar).
2. Add butter pieces and rub in using fingertips until a fine crumb forms and looks like sand (sablé). Or pulse on and off in a food processor (but why clean another dish?!?!)
3. Add egg and one tablespoon cold water and mix with fingertips until dough comes together. If it is still too dry add another tablespoon of water.
4. Fresage: after adding the liquid knead the dough just a few times with one hand to blend the ingredients into a soft dough. Do not over knead. Form into two disks and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
5. When ready to use, take dough out of refrigerator and let rest for about five minutes. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/4″ thickness and cut to desired shape and size. Place in a buttered tart tin carefully by gently rolling the dough around the rolling pin and placing over tin. Press the overhang down around the side of the tin and make sure the dough rises slightly above the side. Shortcrust dough will shrink. Prick with a fork and chill until ready to bake.
Note: some people like to pre-bake the shells so the crust is crispy on the bottom and then fill them and bake again. Often what I do is heat a baking sheet in the oven and then place the tart on top of it so it starts cooking immediately.
When I made this filling I didn’t measure ingredients, I used the walnuts I found and what I had in the cupboards so its my professional approximation. Taste as you go and adjust spices and ingredients to your liking.
1 1/2 cups fresh walnuts lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1 apple peeled and chopped
3 tbsps raisins (or more if you like ’em)
1 tbsp molasses
5 tbsps brown sugar
4 tbsps sweet butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
Whipped cream for presentation
1. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium high. Add two tablespoons butter and melt completely. When hot and frothy toss in chopped apples and quickly flash fry.
2. Add brown sugar and molases to apples and toss to coat. The butter and brown sugar will form a light caramel with the juice from the apples. Once the caramel has formed, add walnuts, spices, and remaining butter. Mix gently with a spatula to incorporate and let it bubble on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Don’t overcook or the apples will get mushy. Take off heat if necessary while preparing the next step.
3. Place egg yolk in a bowl. In a small pot heat cream until just simmering. Slowly add cream to egg yolk whisking constantly to temper yolk. If the yolk curdles, the hot cream was added to fast and you will have to repeat this process.
4. Place walnut mixture back onto a medium heat and add in cream / yolk mixture. Stir to incorporate. Stir in raisins and pour into tart shell.
5. Bake at 400˚F / 200˚ C for 15 minutes. Turn down heat to 350˚F / 175˚C and bake for another 7-10 until tart shell is golden brown.
6. Let cool for at least ten minutes before serving so that the caramel has a chance to set.