I’ve made this a couple of times and results have been spectacular. This tart has been called “life changing”
by my daughter’s college friends. Roasting the nuts first, even if they have been roasted before, seems to be the
biggest thing you can do to make sure this recipe is a success. Give it a try!
This recipe fits a 9-inch springform or else a plain cake pan. If I double all the quantities I will have enough to
fill my 11 inch china tart dish to a depth of 1 inch. If you have a springform or tart dish then you can bake the tart
then release it with the springform pan or serve it right in the tart dish. If you have just a pie pan or cake pan and
want to release it and serve it on a plate then follow my foil method of releasing the tart as described below.
Ingredients for a 9 inch pan – double this for an 11 inch tart pan:
For the crust:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 yolks of large eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, chilled and broken into pieces or else melted. Using chilled butter rather
than melted may result in a flakier crust.
½ teaspoon non-iodized salt
¼ cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
Optional - The grated rind of 1 lemon (just use a grater to scrape off all the yellow peel part)
For the filling:
2 cups unsalted roasted mixed nuts of your choice. I like a mix of mostly pecans, with added peanuts, sliced
almonds and pistachios.
⅓ cup unsalted roasted seeds. I like sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
¼ cup honey plus one tablespoon water
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon non-iodized salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
The most important thing you can do to make this dish a success is to toast all the nuts and seeds you will
use – even if they have been roasted already. Just toast them in a 350 degree oven for 7-12 minutes, depending on
the nut. The pecans take a little longer while the tiny sunflower seeds are done very quickly before they begin to
burn. It is easy to over-roast the nuts to make a bitter taste. Be sure to check them often and pull them from the
oven too soon rather than too late. Let the roasted nuts cool a bit before making the caramel.
To make the crust, first whisk together all the dry ingredients for the crust. They are the flour, salt and
powdered sugar. Beat the egg yolks with the 1 tablespoon water, then add them to the dry ingredients along with
the butter. Add the optional lemon zest for a special touch.
Mixing the dry ingredients separately ensures that the everything will be spread evenly throughout. Plus the
crust mixture gets too stiff for folding in new ingredients as soon as you mix the wet with the dry. You can use a
mixer for all this but I find that a strong rubber spatula or wooden spoon works well. The mixture should have a
course meal-like texture, just right for the next step.
For filling a springform pan or a tart dish, be sure to use some extra butter and coat the pan or dish
completely. This is very important or else you will be chiseling the tart from the pan.
If you are using a cake pan, use my foil method to release the tart: Butter the inside of the cake pan first.
Then take a piece of aluminum foil and line the inside of the pan with it. Then butter the inside of the foil so that you
end up with the foil buttered on both sides and fitted inside the pan.
Now take the dough in 1-2 tablespoon chunks and press it into the pan with your fingers, covering the bottom
entirely. Press additional tablespoons of dough up the sides of the pan to a height of about one inch. To make sure
I spread the dough evenly, I roll a few balls of dough and place them evenly around the pan like guide markers
before pressing. When finished, prick the bottom of the crust with a fork several times to prevent it from bubbling
up. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until lightly browned then chill on a wire rack to room
temperature before filling.
Under medium heat, warm the honey with the 1 tablespoon of water until heated through. Wait until the
honey just changes color a bit, turning slightly darker and perhaps smelling a bit nutty. It is better to cook the honey
too little than too much.
Add all the other filling ingredients except for the nuts and bring to a boil under medium heat. The mixture will
bubble up and rise a bit so if you are doubling this recipe make sure that your pot is large enough for the job. Cook
at a rolling boil for about 5-8 minutes until the mixture again darkens just a bit. Then remove it from the heat and let
it cool a little then combine in a bowl with the nut & seed mixture to coat everything well. Again, it’s better to
undercook than overcook this.
Now fill the crust, scraping out all the caramel left behind in the bowl. Spread the mixture just enough to level
the nuts in the pan. Don’t worry about spreading out the liquid caramel since during baking the caramel will liquefy
and spread out evenly under the nuts and seeds all by itself.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. If you undercook the tart, it will crumble when it is cut. If you
overcook the tart the taste will be off. I’d rather under than over cook the tart. Your oven may be cooler or hotter
than mine so please experiment with your cooking time.
The crust and tops of the nuts in the filling will easily burn, so keep an eye out for over-browning. You can
play it safe and cover the tart loosely with a piece of aluminum foil during the last half or more of the baking time
and that will keep it from browning too much.
You can make this a day or two ahead of time and wrap it airtight to stay fresh. Cut into slices like a pie, and
Caramelized Nut and Seed Tart