Sunday, August 19, 2012

Caramel Nut Tart

I must admit, when Joey suggested we bake this nut tart for our friend's visit last night I was a little grossed out by it. He then related that some reviewers said it tasted like pecan pie, that gave me a better idea of what I was getting into. This tart, however called for oranges, pine nuts and cashews. What would it be like? How could we serve this to our friends?

We did it and I am glad we did. The texture of the filling is not unlike the filling of pecan pie, but everything else is completely different. The crust is basic and not flavorful alone, it tastes of shortbread. The filling is a simple caramel spiked with orange juice and zest. The texture of different toasted nuts and the cashews add a fun surprise to every bite. Unfortunately, the look of the tart is a bit disgusting so it is better to taste it with your eyes closed.  Perhaps if we organized the nuts into more of a pattern on top it wouldn't look so strange?  This could be a stand in for Pecan Pie at this year's thanksgiving celebration, try it for yourself.

The recipe called for walnuts, pine nuts and cashews. We replaced walnuts and some of the pine nuts with pecans. I think the cashew texture is necessary but I encourage you to replace nuts to your pleasing. Check your local bulk grocery for pine nuts and only get just enough to save money--they were $20/lb at our market! We made the crust and froze it overnight before pre-baking, covered in parchment paper. This whole tart could be made the day before but should be stored at room temperature and covered in foil.

Caramel Nut Tart from Epicurious


10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, separated
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
dried beans or pie weights (use dried beans over and over for this purpose)
9 inch tart pan with removable bottom (other reviewers said they used a regular pie pan)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice (about the juice of 3/4 orange)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews, leave whole or chop, cooks preference
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
3/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted and roughly chopped


For crust:

Using electric mixer, beat butter, powdered sugar, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add egg yolk and cream; beat until smooth. Add flour and beat just until dough comes together. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly to combine. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inchdiameter tart pan with removable bottom. Gently fit dough into pan, trimming all but 1/2 inch of overhang. Fold overhang in, forming double-thick sides. Pierce bottom of crust all over with fork. Freeze 30 minutes. (at this point, we wrapped the crust in parchment and froze it overnight)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil with beans. Bake crust until golden, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 20 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, whisk egg white in small bowl until thick and foamy.
Brush hot crust lightly with some beaten egg white and place on rack to cool. Maintain oven temperature. (this means that you should make the filling when the crust is cooling so it doesn't get too solid before going back into the oven)

For filling:

To toast the nuts, heat a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Add nuts and toast until fragrant, watch the nuts for burning about 7 minutes.

Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Cook until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 9 minutes. Remove from heat and pour in juice, then cream. Whisk over low heat until smooth. Whisk in butter, honey, orange peel, vanilla, and salt. Stir in cashews, pine nuts, and pecans.

Pour filling into crust. Bake tart until filling is bubbling thickly all over, the filling will not seem set when you take it from the oven but don't be scared, about 22 minutes. Cool tart completely on rack. This is best served at room temperature.

No comments: