Here is an impressive and delicious addition to the Thanksgiving feast: Chocolate Walnut Tart with Crisp Walnut Crust.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, in part because of the food, but also because of the many wonderful memories that it evokes. I remember making construction paper turkeys in Mrs. Bush's third grade classroom in Chesterton, Indiana, tracing carefully around my fingers to make the tail feathers. As we worked in our snug classroom, we could see black storm clouds blowing in from Lake Michigan.
My mother worked hard to produce an elegant and beautiful Thanksgiving dinner, continuing the tradition of her family. She was from Chicago, and even though we lived far from the city in a more rustic environment, she was still able to bring together a magical dinner for our family and visiting relatives. A huge turkey with chestnut stuffing, spiced peaches, mashed Idaho potatoes heavy with cream. A fire burned in the sandstone fireplace in our dining room, overlooking the lake.
And of course the pies. Like most families, we had several. I don't think my mother ever made a chocolate tart, but I'm sure she would have liked this one. I made this with a crisp walnut crust that cuts like a dream, and a filling of bittersweet Belgian chocolate, eggs and walnuts. It's both rich and light, and is a lovely finish to any special meal. Especially my favorite meal.
Chocolate Walnut Tart with Crisp Walnut Crust
Spray a 10" tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375F
For the Crust:
1/4 cup walnuts (heaping)
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur unbleached flour)
pinch of salt
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg white (save the yolk for the filling)
1 stick unsalted butter (1/4 lb)
For the filling:
6 ounces dark Belgian chocolate, or other high-quality bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 eggs plus 1 additional egg yolk (left from the crust)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons strong coffee (optional)
2 and 1/3 cups walnuts, chopped
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
1/3 cup cream
- Make the crust: In a food processor bowl with blade attached, process the walnuts until the are very finely chopped. Add the flour, salt, and brown sugar. Pulse to combine.
Add the egg white and soft butter. Pulse until well-mixed.
- Sprinkle the crust mixture into the prepared tart pan, then press with your fingertips to evenly cover the pan and up the sides, extending about 1/4 inch above the pan.
- Bake the crust at 375F for 10 minutes. If the sides begin to slump, press back into place with the back of a spoon and continue cooking.
- Make the filling: In the food processor, combine the chocolate, egg yolk, eggs, salt,
brown sugar, and white sugar. Pulse until well-combined.
Add the coffee, cream, butter and walnuts. Process until walnuts are chopped quite small (but are still visible), and all ingredients are well-mixed.
Pour mixture into cooked crust.
- Bake the tart for 30 to 35 minutes at 375F. If the crust is getting too brown, reduce heat to 350F. Remove from oven, cool on rack until room temperature. Note how the tart is puffed as it comes out of the oven. It will subside as it cools.
- Decoration: Mix 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1 Tablespoon water in a small bowl. Microwave until boiling vigorously. Brush this simple syrup just around the edge of the tart, working in sections, and adhere walnut pieces to the edge. When finished, pour the excess syrup over the walnuts. As the syrup cools and dries, the walnuts will stick to the tart.
- Serve and collect compliments!