We were nuts at home. Literally. The two walnut trees in our garden were shedding nuts faster than we could gather them up. Even faster than the squirrels could scurry away with them. There was no avoiding baking with them.
Once again, I turned to my Heartland cookbook for inspiration and found exactly what I needed.
Marcia, Marcia Marcia...
Mmm caramel. Don't hate me but I prefer it over chocolate. The tartlets came out just the right mix of chewy, crunchy and sweet. I added some cinnamon to the shells to kick up the flavor a bit. These are a great addition to any Thanksgiving feast.
Caramelized Walnut Tartlets
(From Heartland: the Best of the Old and the New from Midwest Kitchens by Marcia Adams, Clarkson Potter 1991 From the Tapawingo Restaurant, Ellsworth, MI)
Makes 12 Tartlets
For the Crust:
- 12 tablespoons (1 + 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened.
- 2 cups AP flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 + 1/2 teaspoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon (my addition)
For the Filling:
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons dark corn syrup
- 2 + 1/2 cups walnut halves, slightly toasted in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.
- Put the butter, flour, salt and sugar in a processor and pulse until throughly combined.
- Add egg yolk and cream and process until dough forms.
- Press the dough into a flat 1 inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Divide the dough into 12 separate pieces. Take one piece, with your hands, form into a ball, please on a lightly floured surface, press down and roll into a small circle. Transfer the dough to a tartlet pan and press in to form the shell. Repeat until all tartlet pans are filled.
- Cut out circles from parchment paper to line the bottom of each tartlet pan. Place pie weights or beans in the shells and bake for 10 minutes. Take the pie weights out of the shells and return to oven for another 5 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
- Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil for 1+1/2 minutes the brown sugar, butter, cream and corn syrup.
- Place the walnut halves into the bottoms of the pastry shells.
- Pour the hot syrup into the shells over the walnuts.
- Place the shells back in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until the syrup starts to bubble.