This week's selection was Hazelnut and Grape Tart, from Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma. I was intrigued to make this tart. I've not baked with grapes before, and I love hazelnuts, so I was ready to see what type of flavor and texture experiences this would offer. Most of the ingredients were pretty basic-eggs, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, grapes. Then the hazelnuts and grappa. Luckily my Safeway carries hazelnuts in the bulk section. They are quite pricey, so this tart isn't inexpensive to make. But I didn't know how inexpensive until I went to the liquor store to buy grappa. Now the only time I've ever had grappa was when my husband and I were in Italy having a wonderful dinner with Gloria and Marcel. We decided we had to try the common after dinner drink. If I remember correctly, Gloria was smart and ordered lemoncello. I only managed a sip or two of the grappa, and I thought it was the nastiest stuff I've ever tasted. Not an easy taste to get out of your mind either. Okay, back to the liquor store. They had 4 selections-1 was from California, so I wasn't buying that. One was 1/2 the price of the others, so that was out also-thought it might be close to the one I tasted in Italy. That left two-they were within a couple of dollars of each other, so I chose the more expensive (but it was a larger bottle). But the cost? $63! I hestitated for a long time about buying, with the taste of the grappa I had coming back.. But I thought it would be different-how could so many great recipes in this cookbook call for it if it didn't add to the flavor. So I splurged. And I was sorry. Tasted a sip when I got home, and although it wasn't as bad as the first, I did not like it. But I was still hopeful that it was just the strong alcohol taste, and still hoping that a tablespoon to toss with the grapes would add to the flavor. Wrong again. When the tart was completed and I tasted it, each bite of grape I got had a flavor I just did not like. Guess that saved me calories, because a friend ended up with most of the tart. If you like grappa, then by all means try the tart. If you don't, then do as others have suggested, and substitute an orange liquor.
Here's the process of making the tart:
THE CRUST: I love Gina's Sweet Tart Crust recipe. It's easy to work with, and has a nice hint of orange flavor. It's quick to make in the food processor. Pulse together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, zest of an orange. Then pulse in cold butter. Next add a mixture of eggs, vanilla, and heavy cream. Knead a little, chill, then roll.
Pastry Rolled Out in Circle
I love to roll out pastry on my large silpat silicon pad.
Placing Pastry into Tart Pan
Trimming Edges off Tart Crust
THE FILLING: Egg yolks, sugar, orange zest, and salt are mixed together. Hazelnuts are ground together with sugar and folded into mixture. Egg whites are whipped until soft peaks form, then are folded into hazelnut mixture.
Folding in the Egg Whites
Filling is poured into prepared crust. Grapes are cut in half, and tossed with sugar and grappa. Then they are placed cut side down in concentric circles to completely cover tart. (Note: buy as large of grapes as you can find. The small ones take much longer to place on tart, and when tart bakes they sink into the filling.
The tart is then baked for 35-40 minutes, and you have a beautiful golden tart.