December 30, 2012

Raspberry Walnut Tart

If you're headed to a New Year's party, you need dessert. If you're going to any party, you need dessert. If you plan on sitting on your couch until midnight tomorrow alone with your cats, you need dessert (don't worry, it's nothing to be ashamed of). Basically, any occasion calls for dessert, and this is the perfect showstopper to eat before you start your New Year's resolutions. The delectable scarlet raspberries pair beautifully with nutty toasted walnuts and buttery, flaky crust to make a tart as delicious as it is beautiful.

I start by making the crust. This isn't your ordinary pie crust (though you could make or buy one); this is a walnut pie crust. It differs from my usual recipe in that there's walnuts (of course), only about half the butter, less flour, egg whites, and powdered sugar instead of regular granulated. I bake it twice, first a blind bake to keep it from getting soggy, and then I bake it again once it's filled. Before adding the filling, however, I brush it with a bit of the remaining egg white. This creates a barrier between the crust and the filling so that the crust remains crisp and flaky, but it should be a very thin film (a pastry brush is good for this) since clumps of cooked egg whites are extremely unappetizing. If you do it just right, a crispy crust is well worth the risk.

The filling has three components: the walnuts, the raspberries, and the custard. The walnuts are simple enough; you just have to toast them. The raspberries are even easier since you just have to wash them. The custard is even pretty simple, too. All you have to do is whisk some eggs with a bit of sugar, flour, leavening, vanilla, and salt. I sprinkle the walnuts on the crust and top them with the raspberries, and then I drizzle the custard on top. It doesn't look like much and often doesn't even cover everything completely, but it spreads and puffs during baking. The top becomes crisp and crackly, and the rest is creamy and velvety. The raspberries float to the top, speckling the tart with a bright red hue.

3 Eggs
1 1/4 tsp Vanilla
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Walnuts, Toasted & Cooled
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 + 1/8 tsp Salt
5 T Butter
10 oz Fresh or Frozen Raspberries
1/2 tsp Baking Powder

Separate one egg. Whisk the white until frothy, then stir a tablespoon into the yolk. Save the rest. Add 1/4 tsp vanilla. Pulse 1/2 cup walnuts with the powdered sugar until finely ground. Add 1 cup flour and 1/8 tsp salt. Pulse in the butter until small lumps remain. Whisk in the egg yolk mixture. Add cold water until it begins to clump.

Press the dough into a greased 9-11" tart pan. Freeze until firm.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375. Grease a sheet of foil and press onto the tart; fill with pie weights or dried beans/peas. Bake until set, about 25 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and immediately brush with the remaining egg white. Lower heat to 350F.

Combine the remaining eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Spread the remaining walnuts on the crust. Sprinkle with raspberries, then pour the custard on top.

Bake the tart until just set, about 30 minutes.

Makes 1 Tart
Recipe Adapted from Cooks Illustrated and

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