Nuts store very well in the shell in a cool, dry and airy place. They are often sold in netting bags so that air can freely circulate. Freshly cracked walnut meat is a luxury product and I have found it freezes perfectly if stored in an airtight plastic container, allowing you to enjoy fresh-tasting walnuts for several months. So buy plenty.
Photo: Marina Oliphant
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- Shortcrust pastry
- 180g unsalted butter
- 240g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup water
- For tart
- 1 x 24cm loose-bottomed flan tin
- 1 x shortcrust pastry (see above)
- 120g softened unsalted butter
- 150g castor sugar
- 300g walnut kernels, ground in a food processor
- 5 tbsp honey
- 50ml rum
- 5 egg yolks
- 100ml cream
- 150g best-quality dark chocolate
This quantity will line a 22cm, 24cm or 26cm loose-bottomed flan tin, with varying amounts left over. I use it for both sweet and savoury tarts as I prefer its crispness to the "shortbready" character of sweet shortcrust pastries. I refer to this pastry as Damien's pate brisee, since the recipe comes from my friend Damien Pignolet.
Remove butter from refrigerator 30 minutes before making pastry. Sift flour and salt onto a marble pastry slab or workbench. Chop butter into smallish pieces and toss lightly in flour. Lightly rub to combine partly. Make a well in centre and pour in water. Using a pastry scraper, work water into flour until you have a very rough heap of buttery lumps of dough (I am the daughter of a builder and this action always reminds me of my dad working a much larger well of water into a ring of powdered cement). Using the heel of your hand, quickly smear pastry away from you across the workbench. It will combine lightly. Gather together, then press quickly into a flat cake and dust with a little flour. Wrap pastry in plastic film and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. When required, roll out pastry, dusting generously with flour as necessary. Line pastry with foil and fill this with dried beans or pastry weights.
Line tart tin with pastry and weight as described in panel above and bake at 200C for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180C.
Cream butter and sugar to a smooth paste in a food processor. Add walnuts, honey and rum. Stop and scrape the machine to ensure the ingredients are well mixed at this stage. Mix yolks and cream lightly and slowly add to the food processor with motor running.
Pour into par-baked pastry shell and bake 30-35 minutes until the centre feels set but still a bit springy. Cool completely.
Melt chocolate in a bowl over hot water. When melted, stir until smooth and either pour over the surface of the tart, or allow to cool and then spoon into a squeezy sauce bottle and drizzle squiggles in a criss-cross pattern over the tart.
This recipe features in Winter which is available now in all good bookstores RRP $34.95. To order direct call 1300 656 059 or visit www.smh.com.au/store