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Caramelized Walnut Tart

Several classic fortified wines, including tawny port and cream sherry, echo the aromas and tastes in this sweet, rich tart of caramel and nuts. A sweet Madeira works best to cast a lemony, refreshing complexity over the dessert. Dependable: sweet Madeira based on Bual or Malmsey. Daring: tawny port.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into
      slivers
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. ice water, or as needed

For the filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups chopped walnuts
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
      temperature, cut into slivers
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup honey

Directions:

To make the pastry, in a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar and salt and pulse to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add about 1 Tbs. ice water and mix until the dough just holds together, adding more ice water if the mixture is too dry.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Shape the dough into a flat 5-inch disk. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 2 days.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness to fit a 9 1/2 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the pastry even with the pan rim. Cover and place in a freezer for 1 hour. Refrigerate the trimmings.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until slightly set, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the tart shell from the oven and remove the weights and foil. Patch any holes with the reserved pastry trimmings. Reduce the heat to 375°F.

To make the filling, in a saucepan over high heat, combine the granulated sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly until the mixture thickens and begins to turn golden, 10 to 15 minutes. When it is evenly golden, remove from the heat and stir in the nuts and butter and then the cream. Return to low heat and simmer until very thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the honey, remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour the filling into the pastry shell and place on the baking sheet to catch any spills. Bake until lightly browned, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack an let cool completely.

Remove the pan sides and slide the tart off the pan bottom onto a serving plate and cut into wedges to serve.
Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).