I discovered this tart whilst reading The Alice B Toklas Cook Book first published in 1954. For those who aren’t aware Alice shared her life with Gertrude Stein in the first half of the 20th century living in Paris. Fredrich (not his real name), an Austrian, was employed as their perfect servant and cook, and was engaged to Duscha, a friend of Gertrude and Alice’s. According to Alice, one day, the devil, in the guise of a dark eyed beauty, met and fell in love with Fredrich, and threatened to kill him if he didn’t marry her instead. On the day of his disappearance (it seems Fredrich was quite weak) we find Alice, Gertrude and the weeping Duscha, enjoying the Tender Tart he baked as a parting gesture, with a cup of tea. Sorry, but if you want to find out how this human drama turned out you’ll have to buy the book; if it’s still available.
This recipe for hazelnut tart is one that I’ve wanted to try for some time now, and recently I did, but it wasn’t quite what Alice was promising, so I had to adapt the recipe, which turned out beautifully. It was truly delicious, and lived up to its original name: a Tender Tart. I served it with a good dollop of crème fraîche, the acidity works well with the richness of the tart, and a small glass of sticky wine worked a treat too.
At this time let me point out that Fredrich’s wonderful tart was even more enjoyable than the story it’s wrapped in, and obviously a lot more tender than him.
Hazelnut Tart or a Tender Tart
- 200g plain flour
- 100g unsalted butter
- 1 egg yolk
- A little milk
- Pinch of salt
For the Tart filling
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1tsp pure vanilla
- 1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
- Crème fraîche for serving
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1tbsp cream
- 20cm-22cm tart tin with removable bottom
Firstly make your pastry. Process flour, butter and salt in food processor until it starts to come together, add egg yolk, a little milk, and process just until it forms a ball. Remove, shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
In an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until light and creamy, and then gently fold in vanilla and hazelnuts with a large spoon. Set aside, whilst between 2 sheets of baking paper, you roll out a little more than half the pastry, and place it in the tart tin. Spoon in the hazelnut mixture, and then roll out the rest of the pastry, laying it on top of the tart, and pressing the edges together so they adhere. With a pastry brush, gently brush the glaze over the tart, put it on a baking sheet, and place it into the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, let rest for 30 minutes before serving with spoonfuls of crème fraîche.