Tarte aux Noix
If you happen to be in the Quercy in late autumn, after the vendage but before the cold weather sets in, this is the only walnut tart recipe you will ever need. There are many, many versions of tarte aux noix, and this is a tried and regularly tested favourite!
The countryside abounds with walnut groves. Wherever you can’t put a vineyard, you can be sure you’ll find walnuts. In late October and November the markets are groaning with them in every conceivable state of preparation.
Of course you can always do as the locals do, take a bag and gather a kilo or two yourself. Either way this is a gorgeous way to use them.
Serves 10- 12
For the pastry
300g plain flour
50g caster sugar
150g butter – straight from the fridge
For the filling
300g caster sugar
150ml single cream or runny crème fraîche
200g shelled walnuts
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
First make your pastry. Mix the flour and sugar together, then cut up the butter and rub in. Add the egg and as much cold water as is necessary to make a firm dough (you can do all this in the food processor).
Wrap your pastry in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to chill.
Grease and line a 24cm loose-bottom flan/tart tin. Roll out your pastry and carefully line the tin. If it breaks don’t worry, just patch it up. It’ll be fine as long as there are no cracks in the bottom and the edges come right to the top. Put it back in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
This is the tricky bit.
Put the sugar and water into a heavy-based pan and boil over a high heat for roughly ten minutes. Gently stir just a little every now and then, but not too much or the syrup will go grainy and you’ll have to start all over again.
Meanwhile heat the cream.
When the bubbles in the syrup have turned a dark golden brown remove from the heat and leave for two minutes to cool. Take a whisk and pour in the cream whisking all the time. You may wish to wear an oven glove for this operation; the mixture will froth to the top of the pan. Add the butter and the walnuts. Replace the whisk with a wooden spoon, put back on a very low heat and stir for a minute or so. Remove from the heat, pour the mixture into your beautifully chilled pastry case and bake in the centre of the oven for about twenty minutes. Check that the top is not too brown, and then lower the heat to 150C and bake for a further ten to fifteen minutes.
Serve this classic tarte either warm or at room temperature with a little crème fraîche. It is extremely rich and small portions are advised.
This tarte aux noix will keep for up to a week.
Recipe by Amanda Lawrence
Photo by Ly.H. via Flickr