Holiday Caramel Walnut Almond Cream Tart Recipe (Francois Payard)
About 5 years ago my friend Brian’s wife Sandrine gave me a copy of Francois Payard’s Simply Sensational Desserts and its become one of my all time favorite dessert books. My favorite recipe from the book so far is the Holiday Caramel Walnut Tart which is made with a layer of caramel walnut at the base and topped with a layer of rich almond cream (frangipane). This incredible pairing allows you to savor a contrasting chewy walnut caramel with a rich creamy moist almond cream. I actually visited Francois Payard’s NY Patisserie & Bistro (1032 Lexington) with my friend Vallerie many years ago and we tried this same tart and it tastes just like the one I’m about to show you. To set expectations, the tart can take some time to create in one sitting but the good news is that you can prepare different parts of it, store, then assemble quickly before serving. The entire tart can also be made a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator – just bring out to room temp before serving with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Sweet Tart Dough
1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
7 oz of all purpose flour
4.5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 small egg
Sift sugar, flour and salt in a bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and drop into the flour mixture. Coat hands with light layer of olive oil, then using your fingers roll and mix butter into the flour mixture until they are about pea sized pieces. Add egg and mix till moist. Shape into a disk and then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours or freeze up to 1 month. Allow dough to thaw and come to room temp. Roll out into a prepared buttered and floured tart pan.
Almond Cream / Frangipane
5/8 cups of sugar
1 cup of slivered almonds
1 stick + 1/2 tbl of unsalted butter (room temp / softened)
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of almond flavoring (optional / bonus)
Place 1/2 of the sugar and almonds in to a bowl of a food processor and pulse till finely ground. (You can use a clean coffee grinder for this if you don’t have a food processor). Beat the remaining sugar with the butter in a bowl using an electric mixer. Add the ground almond mixture and mix until combined. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time, mixing after each addition till light and fluffy. Mix in the flour and almond flavoring till combined. Frangipane / Almond Cream can be stored for a few weeks in an airtight container.
Walnut Caramel Tart Recipe
2/3 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of water
3 tablespoons of apricot jelly (Hiro Brand is preferred)
Confectioner’s Sugar (decorating)
Preheat oven to 350F. Bring water to boil over med-high heat in a pan and mix in the sugar. Carefully stir (don’t splash) to prevent sugar from sticking to the sides of the pan. In about 3-5 mins the sugar will caramelize and start to turn brown. Remove pan from the heat and add in the chopped walnuts and quickly stir to coat the walnuts with a wooden spoon. Then add the heavy cream. (It’s hot and may splatter so beware). The caramel mixture will most likely become very sticky difficult to stir. At this point, place the pan over medium heat and stir till mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5 mins at room temp. Pour the walnut caramel into your unbaked pastry shell. Allow to cool till the caramel has hardened.
Spread in the almond cream (frangipane) and smooth top with a knife. Place tart into the oven and bake for 30-40 mins until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool for 20 mins. Spoon the apricot jelly into a bowl and microwave at high power for 1-2 mins till it begins to bubble. Immediately filter the glaze through a fine sieve into a 2nd bowl. Spread the apricot glaze over the tart. To decorate you can sprinkle confectioner’s sugar. Enjoy!