In France, patisserie windows always have a full display of lush tarts filled with custards and topped with jewel-like fruit combinations, of golden glazed apple tarts, and, best of all, especially in winter, nut tarts, like the one above. The crust is buttery and flakey, the filling sweet, the nuts toasted and crunchy. Each rich bite is rewarding, perfect to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon or to follow a meal, whether splendid or humble. The photo, by Sara Remington, is from La Vie Rustic – Cooking and Living in the French Style, as is the recipe below. It is an easy tart to make and combines walnuts and almonds, both of which grow in abundance in northern California orchards as well as in France. The nuts are harvested in September and October, just in time for the winter holidays, where they play a major role in confections of all kinds.
As a nod to nature and what it gives us, I like to serve this tart on a one of La Vie Rustic’s Walnut cutting boards .
For the Pastry
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter, cut into ½ inch chunks
1 large egg
2 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 inch piece of vanilla bean
1 ½ cups walnuts and almonds, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. F.
To make the pastry, in a bowl, stir together the flour and the sugar. Add the butter and work it in with your fingers or a pastry cutter. The dough will feel crumbly Tightly pack the dough into a ball. Using your fingers, press the dough evenly into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, reaching to the top of the rim. Set Aside.
For the filling, in a bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and eggs. Slit the vanilla bean and scrape the soft inner bit into the bowl. Beat until well blended. Stir in the nuts and pour the filling into the pan. Do not over fill.
Bake until the crust and the filling are golden brown, about 50 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Loosen the edges of the crust with the tip of a knife, then remove the pan rim and slide the tart onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.