This week's Sunday SlowBakers recipe was for a Grape and Hazelnut tart from Dolce Italiano. I confess I had my doubts about this one. Would grapes work as a tart filling? Wouldn't they cook down to a squishy jam encased in chewy skins?
I was proved wrong.
The recipe uses Gina's sweet tart crust, which is very easy to mix up. After chilling, the challenge comes in getting it flat enough to roll out. The dough fought me at first, and then all of a sudden was silky and pliable.I roll onto parchment paper taped to the counter, so it's easy to then flip it into the tart pan without the trauma of it tearing.I had enough leftover dough for a small pie crust!
The filling calls for a good amount of hazelnuts to be ground in the food processor, then an egg yolk mixture to be put together, then egg whites to be whipped. One technical change I made was to clean out the processor after the nuts were emptied, and whip the egg white in that instead of the mixer. It's easier to clean, and I find eggs whip incredibly fast in it.
Once the batter is mixed together, it gets poured into the crust, and topped with halved grapes mixed with sugar and gappa. I used grand marnier instead, to complement the orange zest in the crust and filling.
As the tart bakes, the grapes sunk and spaced out. It was lightly browned after 40 minutes, so I took it out.
OK, let's taste this baby. I took it to a friend's house for dessert. We all loved the almost merengue-like filling, with the crunch of hazelnuts. And the grapes surprised me, with their juiciness staying contained and giving an interesting texture and taste contrast. Not all my tasters liked the grapes, though. I found the crust not as crisp as I prefer, and think next time I'd give it an extra few minutes in the oven to brown on the bottom more.
With the leftover crust dough, I lined a small pie plate. I made more of the filling, but used pistachios instead of hazelnuts. Instead of using grapes again, I roughly chopped up some good chocolate, and scattered it on top. Haven't tasted this yet, but really, how can you go wrong with nuts and chocolate? Note that this one baked longer, and the crust is almost too brown. Need to find that happy medium.
I think I'd better invite people to dinner tonight!