This tart is for my dad. It’s right up his alley. Come to think of it, it’s right up my alley as well. I am my father’s daughter after all.
My dad is a like a squirrel when it comes to nuts. He’s not storing up for a long winter ahead – although you wouldn’t know it. He cracks me up. When I go home to visit, I’m always rummaging around the kitchen cabinets for a snack. I could attack the chocolate drawer. (Yes, our house has a drawer dedicated solely to chocolate. It's always stocked. It's always dangerous.) But sometimes chocolate just won't do. So I turn to my dad's special cabinets. At first glance, you'll see a bunch of old Nescafe jars and maybe some big bottles of aspirin or Metamucil. If you don’t know my funny dad, you might just keep on looking for a snack thinking, "there's nothing here for me." But let me tell you, the man is sneaky. Tucked away in all those old plastic bottles are treasures. Nut treasures. Sweet. Salty. Roasted. What have you. It’s all there, hidden away behind the empty promises of supplemental fiber and pain relief.
There are two possible explanations for this behavior. It's likely that my hilarious dad thinks the original packaging that housed the nuts in the first place was insufficient in some way. Not worthy perhaps. And that a more secure vessel is necessary. Imperative. And why would anyone waste money on Tupperware when that old bottle of instant coffee is perfectly good? Store-bought storage vessels would just be downright silly.
The second possibility is that my sweet dad, thinking that nighttime nut raiders might make their way to our house, has devised some clever decoys. Oh no. No nuts here. Nothing to see. Keep moving. Perhaps he’s just trying to scare me away, his nut-loving daughter. But I don’t think that’s the case. If anyone wants my dad’s riches he is more than happy to share. He’s wonderfully generous. Although I can’t say that being handed an old vitamin jar when you’re hungry does much for the appetite.
As you can probably imagine, my dad loves pecan pie. Toasty nuts smothered in sugary custard. What’s not to like? I love it too but this year I set out to rework usual nut to goo ratio. You know what I'm talking about. In a standard pecan pie, it’s usually about 1:3. I’d really prefer it to be 1:1. And in a perfect world, the crust should be an equal player too. A tender, buttery, salty pastry bed for all that crunchy caramelized nut business. This Maple Nut Tart gets the ratio back to 1:1:1 and celebrates all the nuts of the rainbow – not just pecans. Instead of the typical corn syrup, I used maple syrup for more delicious fall flavor. It’s a lot crammed into a little 9-inch tart pan.
I hope you have excellent Thanksgiving plans ahead. Gus has to work so we’re laying low this year. But this weekend my parents and Gus’ parents are coming to NYC for some fun family time. We may not being doing the whole Thanksgiving dinner thing but I wanted to make sure my dad didn’t have to forgo the nut pie. I hope he likes my version of the holiday classic. I really don’t want any leftovers. I doubt I have an old Advil jar that's big enough.
Maple Nut Tart
Follow your heart and use any nuts you like. I used walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. I toasted and roughly chopped my hazelnuts in order to get the skins off but other nuts can go in as is.
This would be excellent with a drizzle of melted chocolate to serve.
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
For the filling:
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cup mixed nuts
1. Make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some slightly bigger pieces of butter. Add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water (if necessary) and pulse just until the dough comes together. Tip out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap, and shape into a flat disc. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to about an 10-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Ease dough into the edges and then run a rolling pin over the top to trim edges. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
3. Make the filling: Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, salt, and eggs. Stir in nuts. Pour into chilled crust. Bake until the filling is puffed and set, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Remove pan edge to serve.