Gail Simmons' Toasted Hazelnut Tarte au Sucre

By • December 20, 2017 5 Comments

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Author Notes: Growing up in Toronto, we traveled often to Montreal, to visit my grandparents and my mom’s extended family. If it was early spring, our trip included a stop at one of the many traditional cabanes à sucre (sugar shacks) — small cabins where sap tapped from sugar maple trees is boiled into some of the finest amber syrups in the world. There we indulged in treats like maple sugar and tire d’erable—a taffy-pop hybrid made by drizzling and freezing thickly boiled maple sap over icy-cold fresh snow, then turning it around a popsicle stick. All of that, while utterly delightful, could not steal the thunder from the pièce de résistance: rich, sticky tarte au sucre (sugar pie). We’d share a slice on site and often buy a whole tart to bring home.
Reprinted from Bringing It Home. Copyright © 2017 by Gail Simmons with Mindy Fox. Published by Grand Central Life & Style.
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Serves 8 to 10

Hazelnut Crust

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • Up to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 1 cup maple sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup chilled heavy cream, plus 1/2 cup for serving
  1. For the crust, heat the oven to 350ºF. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned and skins start to blister, 10 to 12 minutes. Rub the hot toasted hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel to remove skins (it’s ok if not all the skins come off), then let cool completely. Transfer the cooled nuts to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts resemble a coarse meal.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the hazelnuts, flour, and salt. Using your fingertips, blend in the butter until incorporated, leaving some roughly pea-sized lumps. Working with 1 tablespoon at a time, stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, just until the dough holds together.
  3. Place the dough in the center of the 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your fingers and a flat-bottomed measuring cup, spread and push the dough to evenly cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes or overnight wrapped tightly in plastic.
  4. For the filling, in a medium bowl, stir together the maple sugar, brown sugar, egg, flour, butter, and 1/3 cup cream until well combined.
  5. To assemble, increase the oven temperature to 375ºF with the rack in the middle. Remove the tart shell from the freezer and bake until the dough is just starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Pour the filling into the hot crust and continue baking until the crust is golden and the edges of the filling are just set (the center will be fairly jiggly), 35 to 38 minutes more. Cool the tart in the pan on a rack for 1 hour (the filling will continue to set as it cools), then remove the sides of the pan.
  6. At the table, just before serving, pour the remaining 1/2 cup chilled cream over the top of the tart, then cut into wedges.The tart, without the cream poured over the top, can be kept, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 day. Bring it to room temperature, then pour on the cream just before serving.

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