Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 20 & 21 - Caramelized Walnut Tart

The Queen Herself...

Being the food nerd I am, I rented Julia Child's PBS cooking series "The French Chef" on DVD from my school's library on Friday and have been watching it all weekend.  Ever since I read her autobiography "My Life In France", I have developed a fascination with that woman.  I can't get enough Julia Child.  She is just so amazing to me.   I really admire her spirit and passion for food.  I need to be a little more "Julia" in my mindset:  Having fun with food, enjoying the simple things in life, and not sweating the small stuff!

What's suprising to me is that there are a lot of chefs out there that absolutely hate Julia Child.  I don't understand why.  Someone once told me that Julia Child's recipes are not REAL French recipes.  She lived in France for years, how can they not be real French recipes?  Apparently this person was a real master of French recipes without even stepping foot in the country...hmmm...go figure.

Anyway the DVD's are quite enjoyable.  You can tell she's a little nervous in the first episode "Boeuf Bourguignon".  But you can see she's totally having fun and wants you to so badly try and make this recipe.  BTW, you've got to try her chocolate mousse recipe.  It's to die for.

If anyone is bored, I highly recommend picking up a copy of "My Life in France".  It's a fun, pretty quick read, that will make you fall in love with Julia.  And for those of you wanting to improve your cooking skills, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1" is a great book to do just that! 

The Recipe

Ingredients: 

Crust:  Made my own (See Note)
Whipping Cream:  $1.89
Brown sugar: had
Dark Corn Syrup: had
Vanilla Extract:  had
Cinnamon:  had
Walnuts: 3.99

Total: 5.88

Note: The recipe calls for a refrigerated pie crust, which totally works if you want to make this recipe very quickly.  My own person opinion, however, is that if you're going to make a tart, you should use a tart dough (a.k.a. pate sucree).  Otherwise, you're just making a caramelized walnut pie.  You can find a lot of different pate sucree recipes out there on the internet.  (My dough is simply just butter, powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla, almond extract and flour.) A lot of them are just variations of  sugar cookie recipes, which work great!  If you're going to do a pate sucree, then you really need to make sure the dough is frozen really well.  If it isn't, the sides will melt down and collapse and you'll get a hot mess in the oven. 

If you're not a walnut fan (like Brian), you're not going to like this recipe.  The filling (minus the walnuts) is really good and can be used for any kind of nut.  I'm going to try and make this again, but use almonds.  I think that might be tasty.  Pecans would be good too, but it would be too close to a pecan pie tart for me, I'd rather just make a pecan pie.  Cashews would be totally different (if not a little pricey) option. 

THE RESULTS

Fast:  If you make your own pate sucree, this recipe could take you a while.  If using a pre-made pie crust, this recipe should only take you about 45 minutes from start to finish.

Easy:  Really easy if you use the pie crust.  The hardest part will be putting the crust in your tart pan.  The filling is super easy.

Fresh:  Fresh take on the recipe?  Maybe.  It's a variation of pecan pie using walnuts, that's somewhat original.  A caramelized walnut-orange tart would be a really fresh take.  Fresh taste?  Not really.  It's pretty sugary-sweet.  The walnuts do give it that earthy nutty taste, but that flavor isn't crisp and clean.

Overall:  This is a good recipe.  If you love walnuts, you'll love this tart.  I would serve this slightly warm with a nice healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream.   Make sure you check on your tart after 20 minutes of baking.  I ended up having to pull it out of the oven early because it was on the verge of getting too done!  Also, make sure you spray your tart pan with some sort of cooking spray before putting your dough in and try and remove the tart from the pan while it's still somewhat warm.  If you don't do these two things, you may have trouble unmolding the tart when it is completely cool.  (Just a head's up!)

Tomorrow begins the insane week of prep for the French dinner.  Since tomorrow is a no cook day, I will post the menu for y'all to see. 


1 comment:

NoodleBubble said...

I LOVE walnuts... I NEED that tart NOW!

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