Friday, November 19, 2010

Espresso Nut Tart

This is the season for those who love the taste and texture of toasted nuts. Pecan pie is a perennial favorite this time of year and this tart follows loosely in that tradition.

I begin with the Tarte aux Trois Noix (Triple Nut Tart) from the The American Boulangerie cookbook, which I like because of its lower sugar content and the fact that it doesn’t rely on a heavy dose of corn syrup, substituting part honey instead. Many pecan pie recipes have twice the sugar/corn syrup sweetness, so this is more of an emphasis on a great mix of toasted nuts. And since I love the flavor of coffee in this kind of dessert, I changed up the basic recipe by adding some instant espresso powder. I’ve presented the original recipe below along with a couple of my revisions so you can make your own choices.

The aroma of this baked tart is really lovely. It's not too heavy or extremely rich and it's grand when accompanied by a small dollop of whipped cream or a little scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream. For nut lovers only.

Bench notes:
- Browning the small amount of butter takes only about a couple of minutes. Watch it closely because it will burn and you’ll have to start over. I always lift the pan off the heat periodically and swirl the butter to control the browning process. You want only a light brown, not too dark or it will taste bitter and overwhelm the vanilla.
- Use whatever nut combination you wish. You could also add a pinch of cinnamon to the filling.
- I added a half of a vanilla bean, which gets steeped in the butter as it's browned. I also upped the rum to 1 T + 2 t for a bit more of an edge and added 1 T espresso powder. I thought it needed more salt to pique the flavors so I used a generous 1/4 t salt.
- The original recipe uses a pâte sucrée tart shell, which has more butter and sugar and an egg, but I decided to use a plain pastry shell. Use your own favorite recipe if you wish.

Triple Nut Tart
Adapted from The American Boulangerie by Pascal Rigo with slight variation
Serves 8 - 10

Tart Shell

1 C flour
1 1/2 t sugar
1/4 t salt
3 oz (6 T) cold butter
1/4 C cold water

Espresso Nut Tart Filling

1 1/2 oz (3 T) butter
1/2 vanilla bean [I added this]
1/2 C dark brown sugar
1/4 C honey
3 T dark corn syrup
3 eggs @ room temperature, lightly beaten
1 T flour
scant 1/4 t salt [I used a generous 1/4 t ]
1 T + 1 t rum (optional) [I used 1 T + 2 t rum]
1 t instant espresso powder [I added this]
1 C of your favorite toasted nuts

For the tart shell, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until thoroughly combined. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the mixture looks like very coarse meal with butter in small pieces about 1/8” - 1/4”. Add the cold water and pulse until the dough starts to clump around the center of the bowl. Remove the dough and wrap in a piece of plastic. Chill for about an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured piece of parchment or work surface. Let it sit for about 3 – 4 minutes to take the chill off. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour and roll out to a round shape large enough to line a 9” tart pan, keeping the work surface and dough lightly floured as needed. Lift the dough and gently shape it to fit closely into all the contours of the pan. Prick the bottom of the tart dough several times with the tines of a fork. Bake for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place the butter in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp thin knife and scrape the seeds into the butter and toss in the bean. Melt the butter over medium low heat. Let the butter foam up, watching it closely until it just begins to brown slightly. Lift the pan up off the heat and swirl it as it continues to brown. Return to heat for just a few seconds if it’s not quite a light nutty color, swirling constantly. Take off the heat, pour into a mixing bowl and cool for a couple of minutes. Remove the vanilla bean casing and whisk in the sugar, honey, dark corn syrup and eggs until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Combine the rum and espresso powder and add to the filling.

Place the baked tart shell pan on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the nuts in an even layer in the bottom of the tart shell. Carefully pour the liquid evenly over the nuts. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the filling is golden brown. The filling will look puffy but will settle down quickly as it cools. Place on a wire rack and cool completely.


Victoria said...

Sooo beautiful.

I'm voting for coffee ice cream. Why? Because it is my favorite.

Grand is such a, well, grand word, isn't it?

Happy Thanksgiving.

pastry studio said...

Hello Victoria! I LOVE coffee ice cream.

Happy Thanksgiving to you! May your table be full of luxurious treats enjoyed by all.

aroven said...

brilliant! what nuts did you choose?

pastry studio said...

Hi aroven. I used a mixture of pecans, hazelnuts and pine nuts and just a few walnuts that I had left over from something else.

In the American Boulangerie, they use pecans, walnuts and pine nuts and that is really delicious. I'd also like to try almonds, walnuts and pine nuts. Or maybe even almonds with some sesame seeds and sunflower seeds and some orange zest. Not sure if cashews would work but probably a small ratio of macadamia nuts if you mix with something else that is not too rich. Have fun with it!

bella said...

Is it really just one cup of nuts? It doesn't seem that would be enough for the whole tart/pie. Please let us know, also does it freeze well? I would like to make it this weekend to prepare for Thanksgiving. Thank You!

ButterYum said...

Have you ever tried using Lyle's Golden Syrup? It can be substituted for corn syrup, and it has a wonderful caramel flavor.

Beautiful tart. Have a great weekend.


pastry studio said...

Hello bella. The recipe in American Boulangerie calls for 1 cup. When I first tried this I had the same impulse as you did and added more nuts, but then I had too much of the filling left over and the tart was a bit dry from so many nuts. So what I would suggest is that you can add about some more nuts and see if you have enough room for the filling and a good balance of ingredients.

I don't usually freeze things like this so I'm so sorry I don't have an answer for you. Perhaps another reader can add their expertise to this.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

pastry studio said...

ButterYum, thanks for stopping by. I've never tried Lyle's Golden Syrup. Thanks for the suggestion!

CR said...

This creation sounds absolutely scrumptious! I can't wait to try it!

arugulove said...

This looks absolutely incredible. I can't wait to make this.

Retro Sweets Hampers said...

Wow.. It looks so fantastic.. Perfect for tea or coffee no doubt.

Sprinzette said...

This looks incredible; the minute I have the time I will definitely want to attempt it. Thanks for all the inspiring posts.