Holiday Time! Double Walnut and Chocolate Tarte

We attended our first social event of the holiday season earlier this week, a lovely dinner party. The house was beautifully decorated, the table setting festive and the conversation flowed (the wine, too, which may have contributed to the former). Each of the guests brought a contribution to the evening, with our hosts providing an elegant and delicious main course (an early Christmas gift for me – someone else made dinner!).

My contribution was a Double Walnut and Chocolate Tarte from my treasured Canadian Living Christmas Book. Over the years, a lot of of my family’s Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes and traditions have come from this book. These pages have inspired a lot of wonderful memories for my children and for me. For the most part, these are recipes I make only at the holidays, as a way of keeping them special and signalling that holiday time is here.

This tarte is rich and decadent, best served in narrow wedges. Don’t be intimidated by the pastry crust; it’s fairly straightforward to make and more forgiving than a traditional pie crust. With the chocolate drizzle on top, it looks elegant. I forgot* to take a picture of it before it was cut, but I think you can tell from the photos that it makes a handsome addition to the holiday dessert table.

Another guest brought the lemon shortbread cookies that you also see on the plate. These were divine (I’m a big lemon fan) and provided a perfect contrast to the sweet and nutty richness of the tarte. I think I’ll have to ask for that recipe and feature it here sometime, too!

Here’s to holiday baking! And better yet, to sharing the fruits of your labour with family and friends around a festive table.

Double Walnut and Chocolate Tarte

From The Canadian Living Christmas Book, 1993

Crust

  • 1-1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup ground walnuts
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp water

Filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla or coffee liqueur (I’ve always used vanilla)
  • 3 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Drizzle For the Top

  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate, melted (I find 1 oz is enough)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190° C).
CRUST: In large bowl, combine flour, walnuts, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until mixture is mostly fine crumbs with a few larger pieces.
Combine egg yolk and water and pour all over dry ingredients. Toss lightly with a fork. Press the dough into a disc, wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour. (This is a very soft dough, and needs to firm up before you can roll it out.)
Gently roll out the pastry between two sheets of waxed paper (I lightly flour the bottom piece of waxed paper and the top of the disc to help prevent sticking.) You need a more or less round shape large enough to fit into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable base. Gently ease the pastry into the pan, patting gently into place. Trim the excess pastry. (You may need to do a little repair work, patting on any spare bits to patch any tears.) If you haven’t prepared the filling yet, refrigerate the base.
FILLING: In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Then stir in the chocolate and walnuts. Carefully pour into the taste shell. (I recommend setting the tarte pan on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, as the filling may run a bit from the bottom of the pan during baking; I forgot* the parchment paper so cleanup wasn’t as easy as usual.)
Bake for about 45 minutes. The pastry should be browned and a tester inserted into the centre of the filling should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack. As a last step, drizzle the melted chocolate over the top.
Fresh from the oven and still puffed up from the heat. The tarte flattens as it cools.
 This recipe makes 10 to 12 servings.
 I made this on Sunday for the party on Tuesday. Once cooled, I wrapped it well and kept it in the fridge until it was time to leave. It had time to come to room temperature on my hosts’ counter during the appetizer and main courses.
*Yes, that makes for two things I forgot in the process of preparing this dessert. What can I say, I’m living in the midst of renovations. But hey, I still was able to produce this lovely tarte!

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