Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pine Nut & Honey Tart

Pine Nut & Honey Tart Slice, Overhead

Honey may just be the most sacred food there is. It is literally concentrated nectar, tastes sweeter to the tongue than refined sugar, and according to Hattie Ellis in The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets was the first and most flavorful sweetener in the West until the sugar plantation production system was developed in the 1600s. It was prevalent in both foods and rituals of Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, appears as a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity, and has been used as a medicinal tonic for at least 4,000 years.

What I particularly find fascinating about honey is that no two are alike--they are highly dependent on season, region (even micro-region), weather, and nectar source. When I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, my housemates and I developed a great fondness for the particular honey of a beekeeper who sold at the open air market. He had a huge white beard, overalls and a straw hat, and his name was Claude Qui Dort (translated as "Claude Who Sleeps." Aside from being a magical creature in our imagination, he also had the best honey and I've never had any that tasted quite like it since. Now I'm partial to Anarchy Apiaries honey from the Hudson Valley and was recently gifted some Oregon Old Blue Raw Feagles Creek blackberry and thistle honey from Camille Storch that I'm saving for something special.

Pine Nut & Honey Tart Ingredients in Kitchen

For this Pine Nut & Honey tart, I used wildflower honey from Singer's Glen, Virginia's Golden Angels Apiary-- a local honey available at Whole Foods P. Street as part of their work to support pollinators and restore wildflower habitats). I paired it with a lighter Italian lime blossom honey. Martha's original recipe (yes, we're on a first-name basis) called for additional sugar in the filling, but I didn't want to detract from the complex honey flavor, and frankly it didn't need any more sweetness. The pine nuts added a great savory crunch and together the combination felt rather Mediterranean-- like something Claude Qui Dort might eat.

Pine Nut and Honey Tart Slice, Side View

Pine Nut and Honey Tart
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes a 10-inch deep-dish tart

For the crust:
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

For the filling:
1/3 cup amber or dark-amber honey (I used Golden Angels Apiary wildflower honey)
1/4 cup light amber honey (I used lime blossom honey)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups pine nuts

For the crust:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, egg and egg yolk, and vanilla and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder until homogenous. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal and peas. With the machine running, add the cream mixture, and process just until the dough begins to come together. Shape dough into a flat disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. On a clean and lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. (My dough was pretty sticky and soft, so I ended up mostly piecing it together). Cut out a 14-inch round, and fit it into a greased and floured 10-inch springform tart or cake pan with a removable ring, pulling tart dough about 2 inches up the sides and creating a thick rim. Place in freezer while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring honeys and salt to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, add butter, and whisk until melted. Transfer the honey mixture to a medium bowl, and let cool for 30 minutes. Once cool, whisk in the cream, egg, and egg yolk until combined.

2. Place tart pan on a baking sheet with a rim. Scatter pine nuts over the bottom of the crust and slowly pour filling over the nuts, redistributing pine nuts evenly with your fingers if needed. Bake until crust is golden brown and center is set but still slightly wobbly, about 1 hour. Transfer the tart to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Remove ring from pan and serve immediately.

Pine Nut and Honey Tart Crust, Side View

Related recipes:
Meyer Lemon Honey Marmalade Linzer Torte
Salty Honey Pie
Swiss Chard & Goat Cheese Galette (with pine nuts)

Thank you to Whole Foods P St. for supplying the honey, pine nuts and eggs for this recipe. No additional compensation provided and all opinions my own. 

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