Five-Nut Caramel Tart

Ellen Silverman
For the pastry shy, this tart is salvation. It looks like jewels set in amber, with its candy bar mosaic of five kinds of nuts embedded in buttery caramel slicked over a tender crust, which is where salvation comes in. There is no rolling pin in sight. You pat the crust into the tart tin with your fingers.

There’s a special place in our hearts for recipes that have withstood the test of time. This tart is among the best of them, having remained virtually unchanged since I discovered it in the 1980s. In fact, the only thing I do differently now is sprinkle a little coarse salt on top for even more sweet-salty bliss. The filling couldn’t be improved if I tried.

Cook to Cook: Make the pastry one day in advance.

Wine: The richness of the caramel and the meatiness of the nuts makes an aged tawny port sing with this tart. If you can spring for it, a 20-year-old tawny from Portugal would be the best choice. That said, most Portuguese 10-year-old tawnies are terrific as well.

The tart holds 4 days, but is best served the day it’s baked.

Ingredients

Pastry:
 
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (organic preferred), dipped and leveled
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 1/2 large egg yolks blended with 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup toasted, salted cashews (about 4 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup toasted, salted macadamia nuts (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup whole, blanched almonds (about 2 1/4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup salted, shelled pistachios (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
Instructions

1. Make the pastry: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg yolk mixture and pulse until a dough begins to form. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

2. Butter an 11-inch-diameter false-bottom tart pan. Let the dough soften slightly, then pat the crust into the pan with your hands until it is to a relatively even thickness of 1/8 inch. Trim the edges even with the pan’s rim. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes to overnight.

3. Prebake the tart shell: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the tart shell with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and beans. Bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the tart shell is golden brown. Cool completely on a rack.

4. Make the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Place the tart shell on a heavy, large baking sheet. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, and granulated sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring until the sugars dissolve. Increase the heat and whisk until mixture comes to a boil.

5. Continue boiling until large bubbles form, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cashews, macadamia nuts, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, and cream. Immediately pour the filling into the tart shell. Bake about 20 minutes, or until the filling bubbles (the filling might overflow slightly onto baking sheet).

6. Cool the tart in pan on a rack until the filling just begins to set. Gently remove the pan bottom and cool the tart completely, 4 to 5 hours. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Cut into wedges and serve.

Copyright 2011 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. From A Spice Scented Thanksgiving Menu.

Prep time: 
25 minutes
Cook time: 
50 minutes
Total time: 
1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 
8-10 servings

Top Recipes

Amplify the flavor of freshwater fish by sautéing it with tangerine peel or jalapenos

Amy Thielen, author of The New Midwestern Table and host of Heartland Table, says when it comes to freshwater fish, “the lack of a crust opens up a world of flavor possibilities.”