After a whole day of shooting, I just sat down to write this and coincidently it started snowing. Magical, just like that. This is the first snow of the season. My husband just lit the fireplace and it started getting warmer in the living room. Perfect for writing.
I love that this is our routine now. As soon as he comes home, he lights the fireplace and we sit in front of it all night long. Lately, we have also been into cracking our own nuts. It is almost like a fun competition between the two of us. Who is going to crack faster without ruining the nut inside? Not much of an adult behavior, but so much fun to say the least.
So last week, after I won the competition(!!), we ended up with so much nuts that I decided to make this caramel nut tart. We both loved it so it had to be shared.
In my opinion, this tart is the dictionary definition of a nut lover’s dream dessert. Therefore, if you have family and friends, who love nuts you ought to give this recipe a try.
About The Recipe:
Make the Tart Crust First:
As in most tart recipes, this caramel nut tart has two components. First, you make the tart crust. I am not going to lie to you; I am scared of pie dough. For some reason, I can never get it right like the incredible pie photos you see on Instagram this time of the year. Hence, there is no pie photos on my Instagram feed.
However, this tart crust is nothing like pie dough. It comes together easily and there is no guessing of how many tablespoons of water you need to put to get the right texture. I wrote the recipe below with super specific instructions. If you are like me, need detailed foolproof instructions, you are at the right place.
The best thing about this tart is that if you have your crust ready, it comes together in less than 45 minutes. If you can, I recommend making the crust a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge so that it will be ready when you are ready to bake.
Are You Scared of Making Your Own Caramel? Me, too.
Second component is making the nut-caramel filling.
Now, I know some of you are scared of making your own caramel. Believe me, you are not alone. However, this Sucanat-sweetened caramel is rather easy to make. Unless you are proficient of making caramel, I highly recommend investing in a candy thermometer as the temperature and texture is crucial for making caramel.
Once the temperature reaches 260 F degrees, all you have to do is to add in the cream, butter, vanilla extract, and bourbon. If you are not a fan of bourbon or serving this to kids, feel free to omit it. Once you mix in the nuts, you pour the mixture into the par-baked and cooled crust and bake for 10 minutes in the oven.
Once it is out the oven, it is the hardest part, because you have to wait. It has to cool down. Otherwise, not only you won’t be able to slice it, but also it will melt on you. So do yourself a favor and wait until it fully cools down.
A Few Notes on The Recipe:
– Slicing this caramel nut tart is not as easy as slicing a cake. I found that a serrated knife works best.
– If you have never used Sucanat in your baking before, I cannot recommend it enough.This is the brand I use. (affiliate link)
– I served my caramel nut tart with a scoop of ice cream. However, I just tried it with a generous dollop of creme fraiche and it was not too shabby.
– If you want to make it a day in advance, you can certainly do so. Just make sure to cover it with plastic after it fully cools down and keep it in the fridge. Take it out 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, sprinkle it with flaky salt, and accept the compliments.
Caramel Nut Tart Recipe
For the tart crust:
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (1 ⅓) ounces Sucanat this is the brand I used
- 1 ¼ cups (6 ¼) ounces all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small cubes – chilled
For the Caramel Nut Filling:
- 1 cup (5 ⅓) ounces Sucanat
- ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon bourbon optional
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups unsalted mixed nuts I used a combination of pistachios, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashews
- ½ teaspoon flake sea salt
- 1 cup vanilla ice cream optional
To make the tart crust:
- Whisk together the egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a spice grinder, grind Sucanat until fine and powdery.
- Place Sucanat, flour, and salt in the bowl of a food process. Pulse a few times to ensure that they are mixed.
- Scatter chilled butter cubes on top and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, 15 (1-second) pulses.
- While the food processor is running, slowly pour the egg mixture through the tube and process until the dough barely comes together, about 12 seconds.
- Transfer the dough onto a clean surface and shape into a 6-inch disk.
- Wrap it tightly with stretch film and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. You can make this 2 days in advance and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use. It can also be frozen up to 2 months.
- Remove the tart dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll it onto an 11-inch circle and transfer it to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently ease the dough into the pan by lifting edges of the dough with your hand while pressing into the corners and the fluted sides of the pan.
- Run your rolling pin over the top of pan to remove any excess dough. Loosely cover the tart pan with stretch film and place in the fridge for 30-minutes. (Dough-lined tart pan can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month)
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 Degrees.
- Place the dough-lined tart pan on baking sheet, line with a double layer of aluminum foil, making sure to cover the edges to prevent from burning, and fill with pie weights (or dried beans).
- Bake until the crust is golden brown, for 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through the baking to ensure even baking.
- Remove pie weight and let the crust cool on the kitchen counter.
- Do not turn the oven off. Turn it down to 350 degrees F.
To make the caramel:
- Heat Sucanat, water, and salt in a small-size tall-sided saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until Sucanat fully dissolves.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring constantly, until it is slightly thickened (vigorously bubbling) and registers 260 F degrees. This should take 10-12 minutes.
- Off the heat, carefully pour in the heavy cream and swirl to incorporate. Be careful as it will vigorously bubble. Once the bubbling subsides, whisk in butter, bourbon (if using), and vanilla extract.
- Stir in the nuts.
- Pour warm filling into the cooled crust. Using the back of a spatula, evenly distribute the mixture.
Bake the tart:
- Set tart-pan on a baking sheet and bake until caramel is vigorously bubbling, about 10 minutes.
- Let it cool for at least 2 hours and then sprinkle it with sea salt.
- When ready to serve, carefully remove the tart from the pan, slice and serve with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or just by itself.
This recipe has been adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Naturally Sweet Cookbook.