Originally Posted: 10 Oct 2009 12:59 AM PDT
I find it amazing that so many people enjoy the fall as much as I do. I don’t know whether it is the change in temperature, the seasonal change in colors or the anticipation that the holiday season is getting closer which means more time with friends and family. Either way, I look forward to getting back into sweaters and jeans.
For a chef, thoughts turn to heartier dishes. The food is heavier and more comforting with an array of different squash, figs, apples, pears, persimmon, dried fruits and berries and game, especially here in Colorado. Local venison, wild boar and rabbit begin to pop up on menus all over the state. When you start eating more earthy foods, its hard to finish your meal with a sweet dessert, it’s a bit of a shock to the palate that had been accustomed to the warm and earthy notes of mushrooms, risotto and butternut squash. I tend to look for something earthy to end the meal with as well.
Hazelnut Tart with Bourbon Scented Whipped Cream
It took me awhile, but I finally got around to getting up my #3 go to dessert. We’ve been dealing with medical issues in Europe, swine flu and pneumonia here in the States, plus I was in the middle of opening a 550 room hotel, talk about trying to manage a million simultaneously moving parts. It’s fitting that I was forced to wait as long as I was as this is a great fall tart, in my opinion. Not that you couldn’t enjoy it anytime of year, but I think nut desserts fit in well with the cooler weather.
This recipe uses the same tart dough I did with the Fig and Goat Cheese Tart. If you made that one, you should have plenty left over for this Hazelnut Tart.
Sweet Tart Dough (makes enough dough for 3-4 9″ shells)
• 1 lb. butter, at room temperature
• ¾ lb. sugar
• 2 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 lbs. flour
• 1 tsp kosher salt
1. Using a paddle on an electric mixer or by hand, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
2. Add each egg one at a time until each is fully incorporated.
3. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft and malleable.
4. At this point, you can use the dough or freeze for up to 6 months. You can portion the dough into smaller amounts or press it into your shells and freeze those.
5. Press the dough into a 9″ or 10″ tart shell until it covers the bottom and comes up the sides. The dough should be about ¼ of an inch thick all around. If you need to add more, you can easily press more dough in with your fingers. The butter makes it soft enough to work with without having to roll out the dough.
6. Set aside to fill.
Hazelnut Tart Filling (makes enough for 2 tarts)
• 4 eggs, slightly beaten
• 2 cups light corn syrup
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 4 Tbs. flour
• 1 Tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 oz. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (optional)
• 2 cups whole hazelnuts, lightly toasted
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Spread the hazelnuts into your pressed out tart dough
3. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.
4. Pour the batter over the hazelnuts until it comes 3/4 of the way up the side of the tart shell.
5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-50 minutes, until the filling has set.
6. Remove from oven.
7. Cool to room temperature and serve or reserve in refrigerator for later.
As an accompaniment I generally pair it with something creamy, I’ve done either a flavored creme anglaise or, as in the photo, a bourbon infused whipped cream. Nothing too heavy, just something to add a creamy counterpoint to the crunchy tart.