Nut Crackle

Frosting, sauces and garnishes

Yield: about ½ cup (enough to garnish 1 cake or tart, or 6 individual desserts)
Recipe: 86/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 321

Needing a garnish for a dessert that I wanted to make, I made this simple yet elegant nut crackle garnish. For my particular dessert I doubled the recipe, and for some reason the “crackle” never really solidified completely, making it difficult to break into pieces. Perhaps I should have kept in a bit longer in the oven to cook the syrup more, but I am not sure if that was the problem. I will keep you posted!

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup sliced or chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) pure maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminium foil and grease well with butter.
  2. Sprinkle the foil with the nuts, then pour the maple syrup overtop, stirring just slightly.
  3. Bake for about 18 minutes, until the syrup is bubbling vigorously. Let the crackle cool completely and store at room temperature until ready to serve.
  4. To serve, peel the foil away from the crackle and break it into pieces to use. The crackle will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Valerie

Nut-Crust Tart Shell

Foundation recipes

Yield: one 9-inch baked tart shell
Recipe: 25/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 113

    This nutty dough recipe somehow looks good even before it is baked, even just rolled up in a ball. As seems to be often the case for me, I had a little trouble making this dough. I have now come to realize that I am not very good at making dough and crusts. Practice makes perfect, I guess! My main problem I think is that I tend to follow a recipe to the letter, even if I feel that something is amiss. In my case, it is usually water. This time I followed my gut and added a little extra water to ensure that the dough stays together. It did the trick. Of course I made this recipe for a specific dessert which I will post next: the rocky road tart (it looks as good as it sounds!).

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts (e.g. walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (90 mL) cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the nuts and 2 tablespoons of the flour until the nuts are finely ground.
  2. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour, the sugar and the salt in the food processor. Pulse to blend.
  3. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture has a sandy texture.
  4. Add the cold water and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. If necessary, add a little extra water to ensure that the dough is cohesive.
  5. Shape the dough into a disc a cover in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until the dough is firm, at least one hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, break the chilled dough into 4 pieces and knead them back together to soften them. Knead the dough briefly and roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness. Delicately transfer the dough to a 9-inch, removable-bottom tart pan. Make sure to press the dough into the corners and trim away the excess dough. Chill the dough for 10 minutes.
  7. Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork. Place the tart pan on a baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown around the edges and dry in the centre. Let the tart shell cool prior to placing the filling.

Notes from Anna:

  • The dough can be frozen at step 5 if desired and thawed in the refrigerator before rolling.

Valerie