This tart really is as delicious as it sounds. And I don’t think you could actually get any more calories into it without topping it with some chocolate. A perfect dessert for a dinner party, particularly at Christmas!
This week I went on a Christmas cookery course with a couple of friends and we learnt to do all sorts of things I have never done before, including gravlax salmon, feta rostis, mini meatballs stuffed with mozzarella, chocolate fudge and rum babas in a jar. The idea was to have things that we could use for Christmas at the end of it, including this nut tart.
We made the pastry case, roasted the nuts and made the caramel sauce and brought them all home separately so that the tart could be assembled when we wanted it, making it a great make-ahead dessert.
I have always thought that the less you handle pastry the better but it turns out that I am actually handling it too little, so that it crumbles too easily. It needs to be smooth and pliable before it is ready to roll out. To achieve that we were taught to make the pastry on a board rather than in a bowl. The butter, egg yolk and water go into the middle of the flour and are rubbed into the flour using the fingertips. You keep rubbing in the flour until it actually starts to clump together and you keep going until it forms a ball of dough, rather than squashing it together to make a ball. The difference when I came to roll it out was amazing.
The filling is very simple: nuts and caramel. The nuts are roasted in the oven until they are turning brown and crunchy. They can then be cooled and stored in a jar until you are ready to assemble your tart.
I don’t think I have ever really made a proper caramel sauce. I have made caramel filled cupcakes but it only occurred to me afterwards that I should have made the caramel sauce instead of buying it! Caramel is one of those things that seem difficult but when you have been shown how to do it turn out to be relatively easy. I think the tricky thing with caramel is not burning the sugar and then getting it to the right temperature so that it is not too thin and not too thick. So not really easy at all but definitely not as difficult as I had thought! The sauce can also be kept in a jar.
When we were shown how to make the tart the nuts went into the pastry case and the caramel was poured over them.
I tried this when I put the tart together. I had warmed the caramel sauce but obviously not enough because I ended up with a layer of caramel sitting on top of a load of nuts. So I had to tip the whole lot back into the pan and mix the nuts into the caramel and put it all back in the pastry case. Luckily it worked!
185g plain flour
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons water
300g mixed nuts
200g double cream
60g double cream to finish
Make the pastry:
Sift the flour and salt onto a board and make a well in the centre. Add the butter, egg yolk and water.
Rub into the flour until it forms a ball of dough.
Roll out and use to line a 24cm shallow fluted flan tin. Trim the excess pastry off the sides and pinch round the edges to make the edge slightly higher than the flan tin. Prick the base and chill for 15 minutes
Set the oven to 190ºC. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for around 15 minutes, until the pastry is firm, then remove the baking beans and cook for about five more minutes, until golden brown.
Make the filling:
Put the nuts on a baking tray and roast at around 190ºC for about ten minutes or until starting to change colour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
For the caramel, put the glucose, sugar and water into a heavy based saucepan.
Bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
Once the sugar starts to boil do not stir again. It will start to change colour and begin to brown. Cook until it reaches a golden caramel colour.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and 200g cream. Return to the heat, stirring all the time, bring to the boil and cook until it reaches 120ºC.
When it reaches 120ºC, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 60g cream. If you don’t have a thermometer you can test to see what stage the caramel has reached. You need a small bowl of cold water. Drop a small amount of caramel into the water and when it is ready it should form a soft flexible ball. The caramel can be stored in a jar or poured over the nuts immediately.
To assemble the tart if it has been made in advance, warm the pastry, nuts and caramel sauce before putting it all together.
Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.