Caramel Walnut Tart

This rich, decadent caramel walnut tart is a wonderful addition to your holiday repertoire.  It can be made well in advance to free you up for other activities like carving the turkey or trimming the tree!

The Recipe

by volume                                                     by weight

crust:

1¾ cups all purpose flour                   210 grams all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar                             25 grams sugar

1 teaspoon salt                                        4 grams salt

8 tablespoons cold butter                 113 grams cold butter

1 large egg                                                 68 grams eggs

4 tablespoons ice water                     56 grams ice water

 

filling:

1¾ cups chopped walnuts                220 grams chopped walnuts

2/3 cup heavy cream                           144 grams heavy cream

1/2 cup water                                           112 grams water

1½ cups sugar                                         297 grams sugar

4 tablespoons butter                           56 grams butter

 

Directions

Heat the oven to 425F. For the crust, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together to combine. Cut the butter into a fine dice. Use a pastry cutter or a fork to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles small pebbles.

Add the egg and the water and mix just to combine. Turn the mixture out on a lightly floured table and use the heel of your hand to smear the dough across the table a couple of times. This helps form the butter into long, thin ribbons in the dough to keep the crust flaky and light.

Gather the dough into a disk and roll out to fit a 10 inch tart ring. I use an entremetier ring with no bottom but a tart pan with a fluted edge and a removable bottom will work just fine.

Fit the dough gently into the pan and trim the top edge with the rolling pin or a knife.

It is important to make sure there are no small holes in the shell. The filling is very liquid and will run out into the pan and make it IMPOSSIBLE to remove once it is baked! Take a bit of extra care and time with your crust to make sure it is leakproof! Place the tart on a sheet pan lined with parchment or foil. (If you use a bottomless ring like I do, your tart shell will already be assembled on a sheet pan.)

For the filling, combine the water and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush.

Don’t stir the sugar, just let it boil until it is a golden caramel color.

Remove the pan from the stove and carefully add the cream. It will bubble up and sizzle and hiss but, don’t worry, it will calm down.

That is simply the water in the cream evaporating very quickly. Add the butter and the walnuts and return the mixture to the stove. Boil and stir for two minutes.

Carefully pour the filling into the tart shell.

Bake for 15 minutes until the top of the tart is bubbling.

Reduce the temperature to 325F and bake for another 15 minutes. The filling should be a deep caramelized brown and the tart shell should be golden.

Let the caramel walnut tart cool for about 15 minutes in the ring or pan. Carefully remove the ring and let the tart cool completely. It is important to remove the tart from the pan while it is still warm. This way, any caramel that may have bubbled over the edge won’t stick the pan to the tart and make it impossible to remove later. (If you are using a tart pan with a removable bottom, just remove the outside edge of the pan and leave the tart on the metal bottom for support.) Serve small slices of the tart with whipped cream and sugared nuts if desired.

 

Alternatives

I like this caramel walnut tart as an alternative to traditional pecan pie but other nuts will work – almonds would be a great choice, and, of course, pecans! A mix of nuts works nicely as would a mix of dried fruits and nuts. Currants, pistachios, and almonds would be a fantastic combination. Walnuts, dried cranberries, and a bit of candied orange peel would also be a nice seasonal mix. Get creative and enjoy!

This caramel walnut tart keeps extremely well and can be made 3 days in advance. Wrap and keep in the refrigerator until a hour before it’s time to serve. Let the tart warm up to room temperature to make it easier to slice.

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