Monday, December 1, 2008

Walnut Caramel Tart To Soothe Your MOCA Anxiety

That's right, if you're like me you're a bit sick of all the MOCA drama, of everybody blogging his/her solutions and wondering why why why nothing happened yet? Duh, it was Thanksgiving weekend, do you expect MOCA Trustees to reach a decision at a pre-holiday brainstorming bash?
Anyway, since it's holiday season and there hasn't been any foodie-related thing posted here, I thought I should divert your worried ruminations with a festive tart recipe that was very successful last Thursday. I've also made 4 quarts of turkey stock but it doesn't look too good in pictures, so here's the tart instead.

Basic Tart Dough:

250g white flour (I use King Arthur)
125 butter
30g confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1 pinch of salt

250g walnuts
150g sugar
35cl creme fraiche (about 2 tubs Trader Joe's creme fraiche)
30g butter
1 generous dash of rum
vanilla extract

1) mix the flour with the soft (room temperature) butter cut in small pieces, mix well until it looks sandy, ,add sugar and salt, stir well, add the egg, mix well, roll the dough into a ball, put in plastic wrap int he fridge for about 1 hour
(NB: you can mix all ingredients in a stand mixer as well, but I don't have one).

Preheat oven at 400F.
Roll out the dough, spread it in a buttered and floured pan (I use a quiche dish), pick the dough with a fork in several places, and pre-cook the dough int he oven for 20 minutes. Usually recipes recommend you spread dried beans over wax paper on the tart dough to avoid shrinking and air bubbles, but I basically fit a second, smaller metallic tart pan over the dough and it works wonders.

2) Filling.
Heat the creme fraiche in a pot. It's OK if it boils, it won't turn sour, but it's not necessary. In another tall pot, make a caramel by heating the sugar with 2 tablespoons water. The caramel is ready for the second stage when it becomes a nice light brown color and is bubbly rather than frothy. Take it out of the burner (I put it down in my sink) and add the heated creme fraiche. WATCH OUT it's very, very hot. Wait for the projections to subside so you can mix the creme fraiche more thoroughly with the caramel. Put the caramel melange back on the stove, stir with your wooden spoon, when the caramel makes big bubbles, take it out of the stove, wait a minute or two, add the rum and the vanilla, stir well. Throw the walnuts into the caramel, stir well so each walnut is entirely coated with caramel. Normally you obtain a large mass of walnut and caramel, and a bit of liquid caramel stays at the bottom of the pan.
Pour the walnut/caramel mixture on the pre-baked tart dough, level the top with a spatula. Try to tilt the tart mold sideways a couple of time so the liquid caramel stays equally level. Put everything back in the oven for 10 minutes, still at 400F.
Let the tart cool off to before eating it. Rather than add more sweetness to it, if you absolutely feel like having some dairy when eating it I'd suggest you do so with a dollop of creme fraiche, rather than whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy, and stop thinking about MOCA for a few minutes, OK?

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