This is a very rich and flavorful pastry, perfect for frangipane tarts, fresh fruit tarts and tarts with plain chocolate or mousse fillings. As with all pastry recipes, all the ingredients should be as cold as possible, and the dough must be given sufficient time to rest and chill between steps.
1 10 TO 11-INCH TART SHELL, OR 6 41/2-INCH TART SHELLS OR 12 11/2- TO 2-INCH TARTLETTE SHELLS
- 3/4 cup nuts*
- 1/4 granulated sugar
- 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk, cold
For Hazelnut Tart Pastry, use 3/4 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts.
For Walnut Tart Pastry, use 3/4 cup lightly toasted and coarsely chopped walnuts.
For Pecan Tart Pastry, use 3/4 cup lightly toasted pecan halves or pecan pieces.
For Macadamia Nut Tart Pastry, use 3/4 cup unsalted, raw macadamia nuts
- Combine the nuts and the sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Use quick pulses to whir the mixture until the nuts are finely ground. Do not overprocess, or the nuts will release their oils and you will end up with a lovely but unusable nut butter! Add the flour and pulse once or twice just to blend. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse for 10 to 20 seconds, or until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of fat peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse once for 5 to 7 seconds, until the mixture just begins to come together. Turn the crumbly dough out into a clean bowl and use your fingertips to knead it lightly, rubbing the ingredients together until the dough is uniformly moist. It should be moist, sticky and crumbly, with no dry floury patches or streaks of egg yolk. But don’t overwork the dough, and be sure to use just your fingertips – there is enough heat in your hands to melt the butter, preventing it from remaining in little pockets and adding tenderness and flakiness to the baked crust.
- Press the crumble in a 10- to 11-inch tart in with a removable bottom (or press the dough into 6 tartlet tins). Make sure the dough is evenly pressed and that there are no bare patches. Using the bottom of a measuring cup helps press it in evenly. Cover the shell(s) with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. (The shell(s) can be frozen at this point, well wrapped, for up to 1 month. Do not thaw, but proceed directly to blind baking.)
- For blind baking: preheat the oven to 375f. For a partially baked shell, prick the bottom of each chilled shell all over with a fork and line the bottom(s) with a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper slightly bigger than the shell itself. Fill the liner with pie weights or dried beans reserved for this purpose and place the shell(s) on a baking sheet. Set the sheet in the centre of the oven and bake 8 to 19 minutes for tiny shells, 12 to 15 minutes for small tarts and 15 to 18 minutes for large tarts, or until the edges of the pastry are dry and just beginning to color. Remove the liner and weights and return the shell(s) to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the tins, or until the floor of the shell is dry, but not colored. Transfer the shell(s) to a wire rack to cool completely before filling and baking.
- For a completely baked shell: after removing the liner and weights, return the shell(s) to the oven for 7 to 13 minutes, or until the floor of the pastry is dry and tinged with gold. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.