Trail of Crumbs on Design Sponge

The nice ladies over at Design Sponge featured us and our Paris apartment in this weeks "Sneak Peak" series... So fun! Click on the below image to jump over there for a quick looky look.

Walnut Caramel Tart a la Périgord Noir

The Périgord Noir region of the Dordogne valley in France is famous for it’s walnut trees as well as black truffles, foie gras, and dreamy countryside magic. We spied on many a walnut-caramel tart in the bakery windows of towns like Sarlat, Montpazier, and Bélves. Finally, our looking at them turned into devouring them when we celebrated our friend's birthday... one of the many scrumptious evenings spent with a family that knows how to cook, laugh and eat well.


Serves 6

It takes 40 min to prepare... allow 3.5 hours in total to finish with bake time etc.

Pastry dough
2 cups  (280G) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (125g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1.5cm) cubes
1 large egg
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
2 1/2 cups (275g) fresh walnuts
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1 1/2 cups (300g) plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 stick (55g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Optional: A pinch of salt ( if you like salty caramel )
a 9-inch (20-23cm) tart pan with a removable bottom

Prepare Dough:

Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in processor) until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Beat together egg and 3 Tbsp ice water with a fork and stir into flour mixture (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 Tbsp at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. (Do not overwork mixture or pastry will be tough.)

Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and press into a 5-inch (13cm) disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make pastry shell:

Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap into a 12-inch (30cm) round. (If dough becomes too soft to work with, chill until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.) Fit dough into tart pan (discard plastic wrap), pressing against side. Run rolling pin over top edge to cut off excess dough, then press side to make dough come up slightly above edge of pan. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Make filling and bake tart:

Line a 4-sided sheet pan with foil and put in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F/ 218°c.

Lightly toast walnuts in sheet pan, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and return pan to oven.

Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Bring water and 1 1/2 cups  (300g)sugar to a boil in a 3-qt (2.8l) heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until amber.

Remove from heat and immediately but slowly add hot cream (it will bubble furiously). Once bubbles subside, stir in walnuts and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring, 2 minutes.

Pour filling into tart shell and sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Bake in sheet pan 25 minutes (check tart after 15 minutes, and if top becomes too dark in spots, loosely cover with foil).

Reduce oven to 325°F/160°C and bake until filling is set and deep golden-brown and crust is golden, 10 to 15 minutes more (filling may spill over edge in spots).

Cool tart to warm in tart pan, 30 to 45 minutes, then remove side of pan (do not cool completely before removing side of pan or tart will stick). Serve warm or at room temperature. If you'd like, sprinkle with a tiny bit of
fleur de sel, flaky salt, on top.
Cooks’ notes:
Dough can be chilled up to 2 days.
Tart keeps, wrapped well in foil and chilled, 1 week.

Recipe adapted from Julia Watson

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