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Author Notes: A Hazelnut Custard tart created after the birth of my first child who was conceived in Italy on my honeymoon (while we were talking about waiting a year and a half until we had kids). Before he was born, we referred to our "bun in the oven" as "Bacio" (kiss, in Italian). Although, we gave him a "proper" name he continues to go by Bacio. Bacio recently turned 18 years old. I took the opportunity to revise the recipe to make it for his birthday celebration. You learn a lot after 18 years of baking (and child-rearing)! I hope you enjoy the new transformed version. —Robert Notzon
Makes: a 10" tart
tablespoons Unsalted Butter - Chilled
tablespoons Water - Iced
tablespoons Vodka (from the freezer)
- Place the Flour in a bowl and hollow out a well in the center.
- Take the Butter and slice it into small pads and place in the flour well and mix it into the flour until the mixture is uniformly crumbly.
- Stir in the Sugar.
- Beat the Egg lightly in a separate bowl before pouring into the flour-butter mixture (don't mix until you add the Water and Vodka).
- Add the Water and 1 Tablespoon of Vodka and mix all these ingredients together until it becomes soft dough. If it is a particularly dry day, you may need to add a little more Vodka. Do this sparingly, as you do not want your dough to be too wet. The dough should have no dry pockets of flour. Be careful to not overwork the dough, though.
- Once mixed, form into a disk, wrap in plastic bags and then refrigerate for at least one hour. (Tip: roast the Hazelnuts while chilling the dough – see below).
- Once chilled, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until approximately 1/8th of an inch thick. Place into your tart pan. Chill the dough again for at least 30 minutes (this helps insure that your edges don't collapse during the pre-baking). Pre-heat the oven to 425 °F while the dough is chilling for the second time.
- Take the dough-lined pan and prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork to keep the shell from trapping air pockets. As an added safety precaution, you can line the dough with waxed paper or foil and put beans, rice, or pie crust weights to keep the crust weighed down. Bake the shell for 20 minutes at 425 °F. (Tip: prepare the custard while baking the crust – see below). Remove the weights after removing from the oven.
Custard filling, Hazelnut covering, and Whipped Cream topping
cups Hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
cup Heavy Cream
tablespoons Brown Sugar
tablespoons Rum (dark rum, not spiced)
cups Heavy Cream
cup Hazelnut Liqueur
- Hazelnut preparation: Arrange the Hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 350 °F for approximately 8-9 minutes. Be careful not to burn them or they will become bitter.
- Remove and let cool. If the hazelnuts still have their brown skin you should remove it. I do this by rubbing a handful of the nuts at a time between my hands. This process is usually easier after the hazelnuts have been toasted and cooled a little. Don’t worry if all of the skin doesn’t come off.
- Once cool, chop the Hazelnuts coarsely. Set aside.
- Custard preparation: The important part here is to mix these ingredients without adding a lot of air bubbles (or letting the mixture rest if you do get too many air bubbles).
- Crack the Eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly with a wire whisk until just mixed.
- Add the Heavy Cream, Honey, Rum, and Brown Sugar all at once and continue to beat lightly with the wire whisk until just mixed.
- Baking the Tart: Gently pour the custard mixture into the prebaked tart crust (you can do this immediately after the prebaking the crust, but if you are not ready, the crust can sit cooling on a rack until you are ready) (again, do not add air bubbles while pouring).
- Bake the Tart in the oven for approximately 15 minutes at 425 °F. It will still be liquid in the middle.
- Pull out the tart and quickly sprinkle the coarsely chopped Hazelnuts across the top of the custard completely coating the surface.
- Return the Tart to the oven to bake for a further 5 minutes or so until the hazelnuts are just toasting on top and the center is almost firm.
- Remove to cool on a rack. The tart may be served either slightly warm or chilled.
- Whipped Cream preparation: Beat Cream and Sugar in a mixer with a whisk attachment.
- While the mixture is beating, slowly drizzle the hazelnut liqueur (or extract) into the blender until soft peaks form. Do not over whip. If not using immediately, let chill in the refrigerator.
- Serving the Tart: The tart should be presented whole for effect. Once presented, slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Mangia!!!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Tart